Aviation Business News

Top Table Interview: Looking at the long term

Lee Kelsey, chief operating officer, Farsound
photo_camera Lee Kelsey, chief operating officer, Farsound

With some recent leadership changes and investments in new and expanded facilities, Farsound is intending to keep pace as the MRO sector evolves. Chief operating officer Lee Kelsey tells MRO Management more.

How do you view Farsound’s current position in the aviation industry?

Farsound is central to the global aviation industry, especially when it comes to aircraft engine parts. We provide tailored logistics and supply chain solutions to all our customers that meet their individual challenges and match their precise specifications.

As well as supplying aero engine parts, we provide bespoke warehouse management, and line feed and advanced kitting solutions, all designed with our customers’ needs in mind.

This customer focus and attention to detail are, I believe, just two of many reasons why more and more customers around the world are entrusting us with their aero engine, supply chain and logistics requirements.

Another is our dedication to quality, which is embedded in everything that we do. Our quality management systems, coupled with our experienced teams, allow us to provide our customers with fully traceable and conforming products each time.

That is of the utmost importance, both to us and to those with whom we work.

You’ve recently opened new and expanded facilities in Madrid, Texas and Toronto. How important are these locations for you, and what activity goes on at each?

At the end of 2021, we secured a new facility in Toronto, measuring around 20,000 square feet, to support our customers in Canada and further afield.

Located close to the airport and easily accessed by public transport, the expanded facilities are well-suited to our operations in Toronto and a much better fit for us in terms of layout, scale and our sustainable working goals.

Then, at the end of 2022, we opened a brand new facility in Madrid in Spain. It was developed to service Farsound’s customers across Spain, Portugal and the rest of Europe. In particular, the new facility supports our work with Spanish flag carrier airline Iberia and its fleet. The facility includes a brand new trolley system, designed and created specifically to transport aero engine parts around the warehouse. We are now rolling the trolley system out to other Farsound facilities around the world.

Finally, in the spring of 2023, we expanded our warehouse facilities in San Antonio, Texas to help meet the needs of our growing customer base across the US, Canada and Latin America.

That warehouse contains four separate buildings, each measuring 93,600 square feet. The site also has spacious office facilities and plenty of parking for staff.

Tell us more about your recent HQ opening in the UK – was this a strategic decision?

Our new, purpose-built UK HQ building in Brentwood, Essex is an integral part of our global growth strategy and investment in our teams and capabilities. Its opening was a key part of our wider growth and development strategy.

Our new HQ building has been a very special project for us all at Farsound because we had significant input into how the facilities were designed and built.

Planning was extensive, as we wanted to not only cater for our existing staff’s needs, but also allow ourselves room to grow within the HQ building in the future, as our teams and services expand.

Staff facilities include an on-site canteen, gym, yoga area and games room, which all support the wellbeing and work-life balance of our people.

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Farsound's new UK HQ building is in Brentwood, Essex
Farsound’s new UK HQ building is in Brentwood, Essex
What innovations and technologies have your incorporated into your new HQ facilities?

The building is equipped with some of the latest IT and logistics solutions. We are especially proud of our £1.2 million, state-of-the-art robotic picking system. Installed in our operations area, it speeds up the automatic picking of aerospace parts. This helps us to streamline the picking process, speed up the order process for our customers and relieves a lot of pressure on our busy picking teams.

The system also helps us with our quality control and inventory checks, which is extremely important to us. We use it to help us keep a close eye on what goes out of our warehouse. This way, we can make sure that all aero engine parts and other products meet our customers’ exacting demands and comply with industry standards and safety requirements.

Has sustainability been a key consideration in the design and construction of your recent new facilities?

Sustainability and green working is very important to us. We are proud to have been awarded ISO14001 environmental management systems certification. This demonstrates our dedication to managing our impact on the environment and working to reduce the effects of climate change.

Sustainable working was a major part of the planning for our new UK HQ building. We have installed solar panels on the roof and electric vehicle charging points in the car park. In addition, we have built plenty of secure bicycle storage to encourage people to cycle to work.

Other green working initiatives that we have implemented in our new UK HQ include using reclaimed greywater for flushing toilets and encouraging staff to reuse and recycle wherever possible. We have also switched to more eco-friendly packaging, reducing our reliance on plastics wherever possible.

There’s been some recent leadership changes in the organisation. How is this going to play a role in your continued growth?

We are very pleased to have strengthened our leadership team in recent months, in order to support our next phase of global expansion. We benefit from several talented, dedicated and ambitions senior leaders, who are working together to ensure the long-term future of Farsound and to grow our operations on a global scale.

Our former executive chairman Kevin Sargent has now been named non-executive chairman, while Chris Knott, previously group finance director, has been appointed chief executive officer for Farsound globally.

I have moved from my previous position as global sales director to become chief operating officer, overseeing our sales, quality and global operations, as well as the development of innovative products and services.

Jonathan Medhurst is our new chief procurement officer, responsible for global inbound supply solutions and supplier relationships.

How will you ensure the company continues to evolve in the future? What is your 10-year vision?

Farsound’s commitment to growth and global expansion is evident from the large investments of time, effort and money that have been made across our various international bases.

From our brand-new UK HQ building to the expansion of our facilities in Madrid, San Antonio and Toronto, we are dedicated to supporting our customers and growing our teams and capabilities in every possible way.

We intend to keep pace as the aviation and MRO sectors evolve. We are looking into how we can expand our offerings, including broadening the scope of parts that we can offer our aviation customers from only supplying aero engine parts, to branching out into other areas of aircraft fitting and maintenance. We are excited to see where the next 10 years will take us.

This advertorial feature was first published in MRO Management – October 2023. To read the magazine in full, click here.

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