StandardAero is the world’s largest independent Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul provider for aircraft engines. In 2017, StandardAero purchased the former Vector Aerospace plant, based in Slemon Park.
The company has sites all over the world. Summerside is the headquarters for the business unit which includes a site in Calgary, three in the US, and in Singapore, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, and France. “Workers from Summerside have had exciting opportunities to travel and work at those sites,” says Brenda Cousins, Human Resources Manager.
Two years ago, when StandardAero acquired Vector Aerospace, the turboprop work done in the StandardAero Winnipeg site was transferred to Summerside, which is now a centre of excellence for turboprop engines. “It has been an exciting couple of years, and we have been fortunate to have the opportunity to expand,” says Brenda.
Over the past two years, approximately 70 additional people have been added to the team in Summerside. Also, the facility was expanded by adding an additional 30,000 square feet.
“When others try to understand our success and how we work so well on PEI, we have often heard it referred to as our secret sauce,” says Brenda. “It’s not really a secret. Islanders have a reputation for being hard-working individuals. It is the people that make us such a success.”
“When hiring, employee referrals have been huge for us,” says Brenda. “We also post jobs on our website, on social media and job posting sites, and we do recruitment campaigns.
“We also host co-op placements with local high school students. We have hired a number of those students after they graduate from high school or post-secondary.
“We also work closely with Holland College, primarily with the Aircraft Turbine Technician program and the Precision Machining program. OJT placements give the students insight into our workplace and it also allows us the opportunity to assess them in our work environment.
“We have formed a great partnership with the Atlantic Canada Aerospace & Defence Association (ACADA) and are working closely with them to promote aerospace as a rewarding career choice right here on PEI.
“The youth in our education system now will be the talent pool we want to draw from later. Some of our employees who are recent college graduates have visited high schools with ACADA and attended job fairs to engage with youth and answer questions about working in the industry. We will continue this investment at every opportunity, because our industry is thriving on PEI and the forecast looks very strong for the future.
“Our turnover is quite low, and our retention rate is healthy at approximately 95 percent. However, in 2019, we had a record number of retirements. Seven long-serving employees left the company, and it is important to get that knowledge transferred, so that we can maintain those skills in the business.”
“We offer a competitive compensation package and a full benefit plan at no cost to employees. We also offer a pension plan and other perks such as employer-paid safety shoes and an annual reimbursement for those who join a gym and stay active. Our family events, community involvement, and employee celebrations are also very important for us.”
Training and development leads to advancement
“StandardAero offers skills development opportunities, and there is lots of room for advancement,” says Brenda. “That is the story of much of the senior management team, who at one point started at an entry-level position. We support people and help them take the career path they would like to follow.”
Current hiring needs
“Some positions we are currently looking to fill are entry-level technical roles which do not require a lot of experience, such as parts cleaners, bench operators, and coating technicians. We look for applicants with some sort of technical background, hands-on experience, and strong interest in learning this industry.
“We are also hiring mechanics. Typically, these people have worked at a mechanic shop or another aerospace company. When filling the mechanic role, we tend to promote employees from within to give them an opportunity to do more challenging, complex work and continue to build their skills. Then we backfill the entry level roles again.
“There are currently a few openings in shipping/receiving as well as specialized roles in IT and sales.”
Security screening required
“Much of the work we do is for the US military, which has strict regulations as to who can have access to their product. We do criminal background checks and complete a five-year background verification. Unfortunately, this process can sometimes take a number of weeks to complete, which has been a challenge for us at times, but we are working through it.”
Decline in applicant numbers
“When we first expanded about two years ago, there were many applicants to pick from, but we have seen a significant decline in numbers in the past six to eight months,” says Brenda.
“Unfortunately, some applicants for our entry-level positions do not have all the fundamental skills we are looking for, such as basic computer skills. Everything we do, including time keeping, engine paperwork, and communication, is computerized.”
“We offer a lot of training for those who do not have an aerospace background. New employees spend three to four weeks in the classroom with our training manager and subject matter experts to learn foundational skills. Following that, more training is done with a mentor and job shadowing is done beside a fully-skilled person, which is a great way to pass on the knowledge.
“StandardAero is a very highly regulated environment. We are required to track the training and proficiency level of all employees, especially those in a technical capacity.
“We do on-going classroom training, required industry training, leadership development, mentor training, health and safety training, and continuous improvement training. Some kind of training session is offered on a weekly basis.
“Cross-training is also important to allow us to be flexible. Training people in areas outside their primary job function means we can move people around to help maintain the work flow.
“Developing and challenging employees is a good retention strategy for us. People want to be continuously challenged, and we want to help them continue to grow and work with us. Our people are our biggest asset.”
How to apply
Visit www.standardaero.com. Scroll down and click Careers and then on Start Your Job Search. Select the PEI-Summerside location and then click Search to find a list of open positions.
Applicants can apply online through that portal. Emailed or hand-delivered applications are also accepted.
“The Hiring Manager reviews all applications, identifies potential hires, schedules interviews and security screening, checks references, and makes an offer of employment to the right candidates.
“If anyone is interested in applying, don’t hesitate to call 902-436-1333, because the website can be a bit tricky. We are happy to answer any questions.
“We have a strong mandate to grow, and we plan to continue to hire. The opportunities now as StandardAero are better than they have ever been, so we hope that applicant numbers will increase and that our efforts in the next few months will result in more hiring.”
For more information, visit www.standardaero.com. Scroll down and click Careers and select PEI from the location list.