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Andrew Waterson

Bridgeport, W.Va. is home to less than 10,000 people: but in this small town is a company that’s taken off in the last 40 years. Pratt and Whitney Engine Services repairs corporate and regional aircraft from all corners of the globe. Since opening the Bridgeport location in 1971, the company has evolved from mainly new engine manufacturing to focusing on engine overhaul and repair. The spot is ideal for servicing customers from five continents.

Pratt & Whitney

“We’re just off I-79,” said General Manager Andrew Waterston. “We don’t necessarily have to be close to our customers because they ship parts to us. But we are close to major transit hubs and airspace. We have access to a fly-in hangar. We fly our aircraft into the airport and repair the engines in the hangar.”

Waterston recently transferred to Bridgeport from the company’s headquarters in Canada, and was pleasantly surprised by the supportive environment in West Virginia.

“Government officials have been very accessible,” he said. “We can pick up the phone. It’s very easy. They’ll come out and work with us. I just find the accessibility to government officials is a very nice thing in this state. The ongoing communication and knowledge of our company from the state’s leaders is reassuring.”

Waterston leads a dedicated workforce that has served Pratt and Whitney for many years, and their skill and experience is a competitive advantage.

“We’ve had a very low turnover rate. Our employees and technicians have a very high tenure. The aircraft engine industry is knowledge-based and highly skilled. Having a workforce that is very reliable and a very low turnover rate has helped us,” he said. “In this area we have access to employees that have come out of the tech schools, or who have worked in the aerospace industry or the military. We have a large portion of employees who have military backgrounds and training.”

West Virginia’s economic stability has also paid off for Pratt and Whitney. As the company transitioned from manufacturing to repair, there was new training involved. The company has used about $650,000 from the state for those purposes.

“The state is able to offer training programs for our employees because it’s in a financial position to do that, and we’ve taken advantage of those programs,” Waterston says. “Being in a stable environment also helps when it comes to keeping our employees happy. We all appreciate being in a growing area of West Virginia.” Waterston considers his company to be one of the state’s best-kept secrets.

“Look at what we do right here in Bridgeport,” he said. “We can compete worldwide with the workforce and facilities we have here. Pratt and Whitney has always been able to look ahead and redesign and prepare for the future. As the company’s vision unfolds, our West Virginia location will be able to support that. We’re looking forward to the future here.”

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