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After almost a year of searching for a location, F. List officially opened a production facility in the Greater Montreal region on May 14, 2018.
Together with officials from the federal, provincial and municipal governments, F. List Canada cut the ribbon on a 59,000-square-foot manufacturing and showroom centre in Laval, Que., north of downtown Montreal, between Pierre Elliott Trudeau International and Mirabel airports.
“We spent a lot of time … working with brokers and local governments to try and find the best place,” said Sean Johnson, chief executive officer for the Canadian company. “This is going to become the base of all of our operations in North America.”
F. List, a high-end business jet interior manufacturer, announced last year it would make Greater Montreal its first manufacturing facility outside Austria. Johnson said the company chose Montreal for strategic reasons, including the fact it has the third-largest cluster of aerospace companies in the world, with government support and a skilled workforce.
F. List received $1.2 million in funding from the Quebec government and $1 million from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to support infrastructure and equipment.
“F. List has a long and successful history in Canada, working very closely with Bombardier and other partners in the region. It made great business sense to set up our centre of Canadian operations here in Laval, where we are so close to so many great aerospace businesses and opportunities,” said Katharina List-Nagl, the CEO of the parent company, during the ceremony.
F. List provides surface finishes for the Bombardier Global 5000, 6000 and 7000, as well as to Zodiac Business Aircraft Interiors, which builds the cabinetry for the Global line.
With the business jet sector improving in recent years, especially in the United States, the company sees Montreal as a logical entry point into the wider North American market.
“In the last two years, business jet owners seem to be flying more hours, which is a good sign,” said Johnson, who joined the company in April after more than 20 years with Bombardier. “That usually follows the economy, and the economy is improving as well.”
Beyond local aircraft manufacturers such as Bell and Bombardier, he said there could be opportunities with U.S.-based business jet companies like Gulfstream, Dassault, and Boeing. The company also wants to strengthen its position in the aftermarket with owners looking to renovate interiors with wood, stone, leather and other surface finishes and component assembly.
It already has a reputation for high-quality refurbishment in Europe through a service hub in Berlin, Germany, and is eyeing partnerships with North American services centres or maintenance, repair and overhaul providers like Duncan Aviation.
That is part of the plan as well–to build the aftermarket business by refurbishing aircraft with companies that might prefer to get high-end finishes from a North American provider rather than from Austria.
With talks well underway with several “key accounts,” new customers would be announced shortly, said Johnson.
F. List actually began production in Laval in April with a small team of 10 employees. Johnson expects to grow that to 20 in the next months and to 100 by 2020. Among the skillsets he’ll be seeking are carpenters, painters specializing in lacquer and high-end finishes, and machinists.