Imagine planning the grand opening of your new state-of-the-art office space and manufacturing facility, only to instead shut down most in-person operations?
That is where BAE Systems found itself in April with its new facility in Cummings Research Park, as the state of Alabama underwent a shelter in place order due to the novel coronavirus. But the world of national defense does not stop turning and the company quickly pivoted to a work-at-home model for most of its employees in Huntsville. While the ribbon-cutting has been paused, the mission has not.
Hiring is still “full speed ahead,” for the 83,000 square foot facility, said Joe Wasley, director and site executive of Huntsville Business Center for BAE Systems. The company signed tax incentive agreements with the city of Huntsville, city of Madison and state of Alabama promising to hire 200 new employees by the end of 2021, with a goal of 100 by the end of 2020. Wasley said that the internal hiring goal is actually closer to 300. With the limitations on in-person gatherings, the company is utilizing their telepresence capabilities to conduct virtual and phone interviews for positions in critical engineering, manufacturing, program management and business development.
The new facility was devised with the future in mind, Wasley said. It was custom-designed for open seating, with 25% of the space used for “hot desking,” where employees will share an office desk as opposed to each employee having their own personal desk. This type of floating seating is designed for flexible work schedules. The facility will also feature laboratory and manufacturing spaces, and work at the site will include the design, development, and manufacturing of precision munitions, missile seekers, and aircraft survivability technology.
With the number of defense contractors in the Rocket City competing for the best and the brightest in the technology fields, what sets BAE Systems apart from the rest?
Wasley said that in addition to the opportunity to work in a new cutting-edge facility on inspired work, BAE Systems champions a work/life balance for its employees, and provides workforce training and career growth opportunities. The company prioritizes hiring veterans and “we are huge believers in diversity and inclusion,” Wasley said.
But it is the opportunity to make a difference for the warfighter that brings their employees to work every day.
“We protect those who protect us,” Tim Southward, deputy site executive and program manager, said. “Our employees get to be part of a mission, applying their skills to innovative defense applications.”
It was announced July 15 that BAE Systems received $179 million in total awards from the Army, as part of the Limited Interim Missile Warning System Quick Reaction Capability program. This is the newest partnership, joining existing contracts that the company already has with the Army and the Missile Defense Agency.
When acquiring the land in CRP, BAE Systems strategically purchased the acreage around the new facility with the intention to grow beyond the current footprint. While the company is part of one of the largest aerospace corporations in the world, building the Huntsville facility from the ground up has felt more like creating a start-up, Southward said, with BAE Systems planning to be an active partner in the community. The company has already established multiple local partnerships to advance STEM education.
“It plants us in the long run in Huntsville,” Wasley said.
BAE Systems is currently hiring for both hourly and salary positions. Interested candidates can visit jobs.baesystems.com.