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Aerospace support firm moving closer to Boeing, airport

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Aerospace support firm moving closer to Boeing, airport

Boxell Aerospace founder Lance Syner (right) walks away from a US Airways jet at Charleston International Airport with Martin Fletes, (left) and Robert Hess, both Boxell line technicians. The company provides aircraft maintenance at the airport and for Boeing cockpit seats.

A Charleston aircraft maintenance firm is moving closer to its customers.

Boxell Aerospace plans to move from West Ashley to a new $750,000 facility near Charleston International Airport and Boeing Co. by the spring.

The newly acquired 2.8-acre vacant site is on Fellowship Road near the edge of Boeing's future expansion site between International Boulevard and Dorchester Road, putting it within a half-mile of the 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in North Charleston.

"We can be at Boeing or the airport in five minutes," Boxell founder and President Lance Syner said.

The company's new 3,000-square-foot facility will serve as an adjunct to its around-the-clock aircraft maintenance service at the airport and cockpit seat repair at Boeing, allowing for quicker response to customers and providing an additional site to meet future growth, Syner said.

Boxell provides maintenance to Dreamliner cockpit seats. The seats, all with their own computer systems, are made in England, installed in Kansas and then sent to North Charleston or Everett, Wash., for final assembly.

If there is any kind of modification to the seats that Boeing requires, or they are damaged or need a warranty upgrade, Boxell does the work on the factory floor or the flight line, Syner said.

"Anything electromechanical with the seats, we take care of it," he said.

The new site, dubbed "Mission Control" by employees, will allow the company "to expand its capabilities worldwide and serve a growing and much-needed service demand for Boeing 787 component repair," Syner said.

Started in 2006 at Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island, Boxell, named after Syner's mother's maiden name, first served general aviation aircraft.

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In 2011, he sold the Johns Island operation to Jeffrey Johnson of Charlotte for his aircraft service business.

"We wanted to focus our efforts on commercial aviation," Syner said.

In early 2012, the company moved to a leased space in a multitenant business park on Savage Road in West Ashley. It's about the same size of the proposed facility.

Boxell has 12 employees, 10 of them are Federal Aviation Administration-licensed airframe and power plant mechanics.

"We have the business prospects to double in size in Charleston in the next five years, hence the new facility," said Lou Winoski, Boxell business development director.

The new location is expected to spur growth in the repair industry, a segment with sustained demand, he said.

In addition to the new building, Boxell also recently expanded into Georgia, adding an airline maintenance operation with three employees at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport to support JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines and a regional carrier for US Airways. The company expects to announce similar support agreements with other airlines over the next several weeks for Savannah, which is home to a huge Gulfstream Aerospace factory.

"This is part of Boxell's planned expansion into airports having demographics and market conditions similar to Charleston International," Syner said. "Proximity to Gulfstream's Savannah production operations is a contributing factor to our expansion as Boxell supports first-tier suppliers to Gulfstream as well."

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.

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