A group of people squeezed together in a shuttle bus, listening to the driver as they traveled slowly along the taxiway at the Ardmore Industrial Airpark. Stopping in front of a massive hangar, the group got off for a tour of the main King Aerospace Commercial Corporation building.
"Put your cell phones away, please. You can't take any photos in here," said Marty Auten, King Aerospace purchasing lead and Ardmore Chamber of Commerce Ambassador.
The tour was part of the chamber's Business Before Hours event Tuesday morning.
King Aerospace is a privately-owned company located at the Ardmore Industrial Airpark that provides a variety of services to airplanes including avionics, maintenance, paint and interior refurbishment.
A large plane filled the hangar as workers went about their business, looking at different parts, while the group moved through the facility looking at a number of photos from projects big and little, listening to how the facility operates on a Management Information Systems for Aviation and filling a room where refurbishing interior design for an airplane comes to life.
Attendees also got a peak of a small plane taped off and ready for some fresh paint further down the taxiway. King Aerospace operates out of several blue hangars at the airpark.
As the group convened back at Jake's Joint for breakfast, King Aerospace Chairman and Founder Jerry King talked about the company he built more than 20 years ago.
When King left an aviation company in Dallas, he decided to start a business. It came down to two different airparks.
"It was between here and the Sherman-Denison airpark and they really wanted me over there, but I came here because of the runway and the utilities," he said.
Ardmore was willing to give King a shot and 25 years and $30 million later, here he remains.
"We're trying to create more jobs here. It is difficult, but our competition are places like Dallas and other places around where there's much more conveniences, air traffic and things," he said. "But we've done a good job."
The number of employees fluctuate based on work load. Often times, technicians from all over the nation will come to work on projects. King said the company has worked on the U.S. President's plane, as well as presidents' planes from other countries.
The company always makes sure anyone flying into the airport in a military uniform gets fed for just $1, as well.
"That's my way of saying thank you for serving our country," King said.
Current number of employees at King Aerospace is approximately 80 people, with around 40 employees from Ardmore and the surrounding areas. The airpark itself though, will have more than 1,000 employees coming and going for work at places like the Dollar General Distribution Center, East Jordan Iron Works and Beetle Plastics.
"There's a lot going on out here," chamber president and CEO Mita Bates said. "Any given day, we're like a little city and having 1,200 to 1,500 employees out here, which many people don't know."
Several projects are in the works to help the airpark remain viable and meet the needs of tenants, she said. Projects at the airport include replacing Taxiway Alpha and a new air control tower.