Business

Collins Aerospace in search of 'game-changing solutions'

The transition from Rockwell Collins to Collins Aerospace, part of Raytheon Technologies

Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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Collins Aerospace’s long history in Cedar Rapids and nearby communities began with Arthur Collins and his founding of Collins Radio in 1933. It has evolved and grown into the city’s largest employer.

That history has seen a few twists and turns in recent years as the company known until two years ago as Rockwell Collins deals with acquisitions and mergers, and a pandemic that halted, and still hinders, commercial air travel.

Saturday will mark the six-month anniversary of Collins Aerospace officially being a part of Raytheon Technologies.

The first six months have shown mixed results. The company is going through major cuts on the commercial aerospace side, but the defense side has a record-high backlog of projects.

“In the midst of this pandemic, commercial aerospace is facing a very challenging time,” Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes said in a call with analysts Sept. 16.

“It’s more clear than ever that the balance of commercial and defense in the aerospace space actually works.”

Instead of a 50-50 or 55-45 percent split between defense and commercial aerospace sales, Hayes sees it being a 2-to-1 split favoring defense during the pandemic.

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Hayes envisions “significant revenue synergies” helping the company find “game-changing solutions.”

For example, if Collins Aerospace has a technology that could be useful for a different project at a Raytheon division, now that technology can be shared.

“I believe we truly are stronger together,” Hayes said.

Here’s a look at what’s happened in the past three years:

2017

April 13: Rockwell Collins completes an $8.6 billion acquisition of Florida-based B/E Aerospace, which makes airplane interiors. The move brings Rockwell Collins’s global employee total from 20,000 to 30,000.

Sept. 4: United Technologies Corp. announces a $30 billion acquisition of Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids’ largest employer.

2018

Feb. 22: Rockwell Collins announces the headquarters for Collins Aerospace will be in Florida, but the mission systems and avionics units will stay in Cedar Rapids.

Nov. 26: UTC completes its acquisition of Rockwell Collins, which becomes Collins Aerospace.

2019

June 9: UTC and Raytheon Co. announce a merger of equals to become Raytheon Technologies. Thomas Kennedy, the CEO of Raytheon at the time, tells investors he first suggested the merger to Hayes, CEO of UTC at the time, in the summer of 2018 while UTC was acquiring Rockwell Collins.

Oct. 28: The U.S. Department of Justice antitrust regulators asks Collins Aerospace to divest its military Global Positioning System business as part of the proposed merger between UTC and Raytheon Co.

2020

Jan. 20: BAE Systems agrees to purchase Collins Aerospace’s military GPS business for $1.925 billion.

April 3: UTC and Raytheon Co. formally merge to become Raytheon Technologies in a $135 billion deal. Elevator manufacturer Otis and air-conditioning maker Carrier are spun off into separate companies.

July 10: BAE Systems submits a proposal for a $139 million classified defense aerospace facility in Cedar Rapids that would keep between 650 and 700 jobs in the Corridor. In the following week, the Cedar Rapids City Council and Iowa Economic Development Authority approve property tax incentives for the project.

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July 28: Collins Aerospace experiences a 35 percent decline in sales and 125 percent drop in operating profit, according to parent company Raytheon Technologies’ second-quarter investors conference call, as coronavirus impacts the commercial aerospace industry.

July 31: Collins Aerospace President Stephen Timm says in an email to employees the company has been going through voluntary separation agreements, furloughs, salary reductions, a hiring freeze and cuts in discretionary spending.

“As difficult as this decision is, resizing our workforce is necessary for Collins to better align with future business demand in this evolving environment and to position the company for long-term success,” Timm writes in the email.

Sept. 4: Collins Aerospace to lay off 72 Iowa employees, according to a WARN notice filed with Iowa Workforce Development.

Sept. 16: Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes says the company plans to lay off more than 15,000 employees and specifically mentioned Collins Aerospace as a source of those job cuts. The next day, a Collins Aerospace spokeswoman says the 15,000 number includes previous cuts during the pandemic.

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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