Beechcraft CEO confirms Costco is taking part of the company’s property

UPDATED — As Have You Heard? first reported last summer, Costco is coming to what is currently Beechcraft property at the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road.

During an interview with Aviation Week, Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture this week confirmed for the first time that the chain is taking part of the company’s property for a future store.

The article explained that “Beechcraft has also consolidated its pistons and turboprops production into a single facility in Wichita, closing the pistons plant. That facility, Boisture says, is ‘on its way to becoming a Costco.’ He said the sale of Plant 3 and property at the south end of the Beechcraft campus will reduce its so-called ‘square mile’ on Wichita’s east side by about 20%.”

An updated version of the Aviation Week story says “big box store” instead of Costco.

Previously, Beechcraft spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said the company had no information or comments to offer about a possible sale to Costco.

In May, Have You Heard? had this update:

Costco has about 17 1/2 acres under contract. The deal isn’t likely to close until later this year. That’s substantially further out than initial time lines suggested. It looks like part of the holdup was the Hawker Beechcraft bankruptcy filing. There were some questions related to environmental issues at the plant as well.

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Uncommon Market to open in Lincoln Heights Village on March 1

UPDATED — Renee Rhodes and Jodie Hinds have been selling new and vintage home decor at various shows in Kansas and Oklahoma for more than a year with an intent to one day open a permanent shop. They’ve wanted to be in Lincoln Heights Village at Douglas and Oliver, and a space finally opened.

“That was kind of my indication it was time to open a store,” Rhodes says. “When we saw the sign, we said, ‘Well, this is it,’ and jumped in.”

Uncommon Market will open March 1 in the former Angela Snow Photography space. Snow moved her business to the former Artifacts space at the center.

Rhodes says the Uncommon name “says a lot about the things that we carry.”

“It’s just kind of an uncommon mix of things,” she says. “All of those things that kind of make you feel good.”

That includes pillows, frames, furniture and bath and body products. The store also will accept some furniture consignment pieces, and Rhodes will sell some repurposed pieces of her own.

“It’s not major overhaul but just kind of a facelift,” she says of what she does.

This is in addition to her full-time job as a risk control specialist with IMA. Hinds also has a full-time job with Hawker Beechcraft.

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Flight International to profile Wichita

WICHITA — A reporter with Flight International, an aviation trade journal based in London, is in Wichita this week to do a spotlight on the aviation cluster here.

Talk has circulated that the story may be an examination of “the demise of Wichita,” which makes writer Stephen Trimble, who is based in Washington, D.C., laugh.

“I can confirm that rumors of my story of the demise of Wichita are greatly exaggerated,” he says. “There’s no real preconceived agenda, to be honest.”

Trimble says his publication regularly does country reports, which focus on the aviation industry in various countries. The United States, he says, is “just too big to have any real context,” so the publication looks at individual clusters.

So how does he find Wichita is faring?

“I’ve been trying to figure that out,” Trimble says.

He’s visiting all the major aircraft companies and a number of subcontractors. Naturally, not everything is rosy with Boeing’s planned departure and Hawker Beechcraft’s uncertain future.

Trimble also is visiting the National Institute for Aviation Research and the National Center for Aviation Training, and he says those programs are offering hope.

“That’s very encouraging.”

In other struggling places he’s visited, Trimble says, “They don’t have this kind of thing.”

The story will come out late next month, just before the National Business Aviation Association annual convention.

“There are some definite bright spots,” Trimble says of Wichita. “The question is where things go from here.”


Costco has a top pick for Wichita property

WICHITA — Costco has identified a top pick for property to open its first store in Wichita, but no one with the cost-cutting competitor to Sam’s Club is talking yet.

Sources says the Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is interested in the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road, which is Hawker Beechcraft property.

“We do not have any information or comments to provide at this time,” Hawker spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said in an e-mail.

Hawker’s bankruptcy doesn’t appearing to be hurting a potential Costco deal, although it sounds like it may be slowing things.

In April, Have You Heard? reported that Costco was once again seriously eyeing Wichita – as it had several years ago before a deal fell apart.

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Eurest is out, Treat America Food Services is in at Hawker Beechcraft

WICHITA — A dwindling workforce at Hawker Beechcraft has resulted in a change in food service companies that feed employees and handle meals for Beech Activity Center events.

North Carolina-based Eurest had the contract since January 2002. Now Kansas City, Mo.-based Treat America Food Services has it.

“It was a great contract,” says Amanda Brown, Eurest’s communications director.

After fulfilling the contract, Brown says Eurest chose not to continue to do business there.

“It was due to financial hardship … based on the past couple of years with the economy, and there was just a decline in the guest count.”

Joel Fitzpatrick, Treat America’s district manager, says the company has expanded offerings to employees with new company kitchens and increased vending machines. He says 80 percent of the break rooms have been renovated. Some also now have air conditioning.

“We’re just trying to get our legs underneath us here,” Fitzpatrick says. “And then we’ll see if there’s a calling for us to go outside of here and cater.”


You don’t say

“Is that company even open today?”

Sedgwick County District Judge Terry Pullman’s comment Monday about Hawker Beechcraft after several of the company’s employees appeared in his courtroom as potential jurors

Tiahrt establishes two new businesses for consulting and investments

WICHITA — After years of adhering to schedules that weren’t necessarily the ones he chose, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt now has two new companies where he calls the shots — including scheduling.

“I have more control of my time, which is something I covet,” he says.

Todd Tiahrt LLC is a consulting company, which will focus on aviation, aerospace and energy issues.

“I’ve done a lot of work in all three of those areas over the years,” he says.

Todd Tiahrt Enterprises is for other ventures.

“I’m looking for some places to invest,” Tiahrt says. “Not that I have a lot to invest, but I hope to some day.”

Almost all of his consulting clients, such as Hawker Beechcraft, are local. Tiahrt says he’s “trying to help with some local issues.”

“I just kind of know how things get done, and I’m trying to help people get things done.”

He’s spending about three weeks of every month in his Wichita office at 10500 E. Berkeley Square Parkway.

While “Tanker Todd” is known for his work helping Boeing get the $35 billion contract to build the Air Force’s new fleet of aerial-refueling tankers, he says he can help general aviation clients, too.

For instance, he says he worked to try and prevent user fees that have to be paid every time a plane takes off and lands.

“It has a devastating impact on the number of people who fly,” Tiahrt says. “I’ve opposed that strongly in Congress.”

Tiahrt says he looks forward to having a more in-depth focus on a limited number of subjects, “rather than the last 16 years when I had to know a little bit about everything.”

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You don’t say

“Actually, the airlines are our best sales people, and we love them. We love them.”

Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture, speaking today at Rotary Club of Wichita, on the new TSA pat-downs and scans

You don’t say

“Beechcraft sneezed, and I caught a cold.”

Larry Burke, owner of Copper Oven Cafe Bakery, on how business is off right now in part because of concerns over Hawker Beechcraft leaving Wichita

You don’t say

“It’s gotten to the point I’ve almost memorized their phone number.”

— Mayor Carl Brewer on staying in touch with the governor’s office on the Hawker Beechcraft situation