Raytheon Integrated Product Team Lead Clyde Campos, left, with Airborne Environmental Control Systems CEO Bill Lee in Port Angeles on Thursday. Campos said he anticipates a long-term relationship between Raytheon and Airborne ECS. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Department of Defense contractor Raytheon visits new Port Angeles company

PORT ANGELES — A major Department of Defense contractor anticipates a long-term relationship with Airborne ECS, a company that recently relocated to Port Angeles.

“They blew my expectations away for a company of their size,” said Clyde Campos, integrated project team lead for Raytheon. “Usually small companies are not that mature.”

Campos visited Airborne’s new facility in Port Angeles on Thursday for a preliminary design review of an environmental control system Airborne ECS is developing for Raytheon.

Raytheon was the first client to visit the facility, which is still under construction at 2007 O St. Campos said he was impressed with the company’s one-month turn around on the preliminary design, something that typically takes around seven months.

Campos said he couldn’t share details about the contract with Airborne, but he expects it to be “a little over” $500,000.

Airborne ECS President and CEO Bill Lee said he was excited to have Raytheon be the first visitor to his facility, and that other visits are planned in the coming weeks.

“It’s good to have them here,” Lee said. “It’s nice to see their faces as they walk through our doors and be our first customers in our brand new facility.”

The company designs — and will soon manufacture itself — cooling systems for military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor systems, which are commonly used on unmanned aerial vehicles and fighter aircraft.

Airborne’s products deal with temperatures ranging from 4 Kelvin — that’s about minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit — up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, he said.

Lee, who grew up in Joyce, had operated the business virtually out of his home in New York, but relocated his headquarters to Port Angeles with plans to manufacture.

Lee said Airborne is now growing quicker than he had anticipated and he expects to have 30 people working in the facility by the end of 2017.

The company, which is about 18 months old, has already won four major programs, he said.

That twice as many as he had expected.

“That’s pushing us to grow faster and hire more people for the assembly and testing in our phased roll out,” he said.

Within five years he anticipates having hired 100 people.

“I keep saying the same number to everybody, but I actually think it will be over 100,” he said. “But it’s 100 over 5 years, that’s what I promised.”

Lee said earlier this month his company had already captured $200 million in business, a number he expects to climb to $1 billion by 2026.

The company is leasing a building from the Port of Port Angeles.

During the first phase the company is leasing 5,000 square feet of space, with plans of expanding an additional 10,000 square feet for production around April of 2018.

Then the company plans to expand another 10,000 square feet for engineering and office space around September of 2018.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.