‘We make it gold’
September 13, 2007
Zahir Teja points at a picture of an engine.
“It’s like a maze of spaghetti, right?”
Then he clicks through a series of other pictures on his computer. The engine when his company received it; the engine when it was being inspected; the engine when it was being torn apart; the engine when it was being rebuilt.
“New spaghetti now,” says Teja, president of Phoenix Aerospace Inc. “Al dente.”
He smiles and adds that his company is doing well.
Last week, his nine-employee business got a $363,000 contract from a military defense contractor. This month, it is moving from Carson City to a better location in Mound House. Right now, he is finishing the process of taking it public as – Phoenix International Ventures Inc. – the parent company of Phoenix Aerospace Inc.
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Teja, also the president of the parent company, wants to start acquiring businesses similar to Phoenix Aerospace, businesses that manufactures, remanufactures and upgrades support equipment – such as weapons loaders and engine transporters – for military airplanes.
His company’s relationship with the military and military contractors works like this, Teja said. “They send us their junk and we make it gold and send it back to them.”
Since opening in 2004 on Lockheed Way, Teja has spent a lot of time convincing clients his business does quality work. With remanufacturing, for instance, customers have to believe that the business can rebuild equipment, some containing parts that aren’t made anymore, for a cheaper price than it would take to build it new.
Teja knows the basics of doing this, but company engineers, such as Kevin Fukagawa – “a genius in this (stuff)” – are the experts.
Fukagawa said a benefit of remanufacturing equipment is also that he can catch and fix something that is getting close to breaking.
Teja, said being able to run a business like this amazes him.
“There’s no country like the USA,” he said. “People can moan and groan. If you want to work hard and do it right, you can get any place you want. It’s America.”
In 1973, Teja came to the country from Tanzania where he was born. He studied computer data technology in California and, in 1992, he started working for a company that sold airplane support equipment.
“You can get any education you want (in America),” he said. “It’s available; no one stops you.”
The business will always have work if it does a good job, he said, because equipment always needs maintenance, especially if it’s used in wars.
He compared it to a company selling an insurance policy.
“OK, Zahir will probably live 70 years, 65 years,” he said. “Based upon that, the company figures out opinion X. The insurance company will make money and Zahir will get what he wants. Correct?”
“You see,” he added. “In the end, everyone’s a human being.”
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.
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