Hot Shots: USA

Features Hot Shots: USA Speaking Your Language By Richard Rowe April 2001 In this issue’s Hot Shots feature, we showcase three geographically and product diverse manufacturers that have contributed greatly to their particular fields of...


With no engines to maintain, and backed by sound engineering principles, WASP products have been out in the field for almost as long as the company has been in business. As such, the company’s parts division has become an important part of its business. "Parts and service represent large parts of the company’s business and are both growing fast," comments Silver. Parts represent roughly 12 percent of the business, while employees in the parts department make up almost 10 percent of the total work force.

The GSE parts division at WASP comprises an inventory of nearly 3,000 different parts to support equipment, with a computerized inventory to monitor parts usage and to provide shipping dates and inventories for customers.

"We ship over 90 percent of parts orders within 24 hours of receipt," says Silver, well aware that customers usually need parts yesterday.

Great emphasis is placed on supporting the spare parts business with designated staff taking orders. "Although those folks can help a customer with a technical question, more often the person with the problem would be directed to one of our service technicians who are actually lead persons from the production line," explains Silver.

"These are the people we feel are best suited to remotely ‘trouble-shoot’ a problem. If the tech support person feels that the problem merits an engineer’s efforts he will work with the appropriate engineer to come up with a solution. Our number one task is always to get the customer up and running as soon as possible."

Silver says that it is only after that task is accomplished that attention turns to fault finding. "Fault finding does have a certain negativity associated with it but it is really necessary to prevent the same problem from reoccurring," he adds.
WASP hopes that its quest for improved after sales support and better efficiencies all round will be helped by a major building project that will transform the company’s current disparate facilities. Ground was broken in October 2000 on a new GSE manufacturing facility in Glenwood which will double the size of the existing facility and feature greatly improved material handling equipment such as robotic welding and laser fabricating equipment to reduce cycle times. The new facility should be ready by the summer, says Silver. WASP will then move its parts warehouse into the former GSE division manufacturing building and step out of the lease arrangement in Sioux Falls.

Like others, WASP has benefited in recent years from the airline community’s relatively new-found appreciation of all things GSE. "We have seen a huge replacement in GSE, and much of our growth in the last four to five years has come from that replacement," says Silver.

Today, WASP lists most U.S. major carriers as key customers, many of which are now settling into multi-year agreements on equipment purchase. "The larger customers are certainly looking at multi-year terms," says Silver. "While there is no definite agreement on how much they will buy, we agree to deal on the basis that they will buy some [equipment] and we agree to hold the price in exchange for their loyalty." United, Continental, Northwest, American and, to a lesser extent, UPS, have all signed up for such deals.

In a market that continues to evolve through mergers, acquisitions, and the kind of consolidation that is already apparent in the airline and ground handling arenas, WASP is looking carefully at its own position in the market. It is by no means a truly global player, but is no small fry either. Having been in business for more than 20 years, WASP has clearly made good on its early commitment to be there for customers in the long term and wants to continue serving its loyal customer base for many more years to come.

After so long in the business, John Silver has noticed many changes in the GSE industry, but one or two stand out in recent years. One is the rise to prominence of the service companies. The fact that such organizations bid on specific projects--perhaps looking to open up a new station in one to two months--means that they need equipment quickly, something that can test the production capacity of even the most nimble of GSE suppliers.

"They are mostly buying equipment that has been bought before, so there is no huge problem engineering wise, but we do need to respond in terms of the manufacturing process," says Silver. This is where the new facility complete with laser welding and robotic procedures is likely to pay dividends.

We Recommend

  • Company
    Wasp Inc.

    Wasp Inc.

  • Article

    Filling a Need

    USAF Contracting for a universal munitions trailer

  • Article

    Filling a Need

    USAF Contracting for a universal munitions trailer

  • Article

    Selecting Cargo Equipment

    Understanding your operations will help in selecting the right cargo equipment to better serve your customers, writes Michelle Garetson. June/July 2003 While spec sheets and price lists are...