TransDigm Inc. was formed in July 1993 in connection with the acquisition of certain businesses from IMO Industries Inc. TransDigm Group Incorporated (“TD Group”), was formed in July 2003 at the direction of Warburg Pincus Private Equity VIII, L.P. (“Warburg Pincus”) to facilitate the acquisition of TransDigm Inc. In March 2006, certain stockholders of TD Group and certain members of our management sold shares of TD Group common stock in an underwritten initial public offering. TD Group did not offer any shares of common stock for sale in the initial public offering and TD Group did not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders. As a result of the initial public offering, TD Group’s common stock is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “TDG.”
In May 2007, certain of TD Group’s stockholders, including certain members of our management, sold shares of TD Group’s common stock in an underwritten public offering. As a result of this offering, TD Group was no longer a “controlled company” for the purposes of the NYSE listing requirements. TD Group did not sell any shares in the offering and did not receive any proceeds from the offering.
We believe we are a leading global designer, producer and supplier of highly engineered aircraft components for use on nearly all commercial and military aircraft in service today. Our business is well diversified due to the broad range of products we offer to our customers.
We estimate that over 95% of our net sales for fiscal year 2009 were generated by proprietary products for which we own the design. In addition, for fiscal year 2009, we estimate that we generated approximately 80% of our net sales from products for which we are the sole source provider.
Most of our products generate significant aftermarket revenue. Once our parts are designed into and sold as original equipment on an aircraft, we generate net sales from recurring aftermarket consumption over the life of that aircraft, which is generally estimated to be approximately 30 years. We estimate that approximately 60% of our net sales in fiscal year 2009 were generated from aftermarket sales, the vast majority of which come from the commercial and military aftermarkets. These aftermarket revenues have historically produced a higher gross margin and been more stable than sales to original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs.
We primarily design, produce and supply highly-engineered proprietary aerospace components (and certain systems/subsystems) with significant aftermarket content. We seek to develop highly customized products to solve specific needs for aircraft operators and manufacturers. We attempt to differentiate ourselves based on engineering, service and manufacturing capabilities. We typically choose not to compete for non-proprietary “build to print” business because it frequently offers lower margins than proprietary products. We believe that our products have strong brand names within the industry and that we have a reputation for high quality, reliability and customer support.
Our business is well diversified due to the broad range of products that we offer to our customers. Some of our more significant product offerings, substantially all of which are ultimately provided to end-users in the aerospace industry, include: (1) mechanical /electro-mechanical actuators and controls used in numerous actuation applications; (2) ignition systems and components such as igniters, exciters and spark plugs used to start and spark turbine and reciprocating aircraft engines; (3) gear pumps used primarily in lubrication and fuel applications; (4) specialized valves used in fuel, hydraulic and pneumatic applications; (5) engineered connectors used in fuel, pneumatic and hydraulic applications; (6) power conditioning devices used to modify and control electrical power; (7) specialized fluorescent lighting; (8) specialized AC/DC electric motors and components; (9) aircraft audio systems; (10) engineered latching and locking devices used in various bin, security and other applications; (11) lavatory hardware and components; (12) rods and locking devices used primarily to hold open cowlings to allow access to engines for maintenance; (13) specialized cockpit displays; (14) elastomers used in various clamping and heating applications; (15) NiCad batteries/chargers used to provide starting and back-up power; and (16) starter generators and related components.
Sales and Marketing
Consistent with our overall strategy, our sales and marketing organization is structured to continually develop technical solutions that meet customer needs. In particular, we attempt to focus on products and programs that will lead to high-margin, repeatable sales in the aftermarket.
We have structured our sales efforts along our major product offerings, assigning a product manager to certain products. Each product manager is expected to grow the sales and profitability of the products for which he or she is responsible and to achieve the targeted annual level of bookings, sales, new business and profitability for such products. The product managers are assisted by account managers and sales engineers who are responsible for covering major OEM and aftermarket accounts. Account managers and sales engineers are expected to be familiar with the personnel, organization and needs of specific customers, to achieve total bookings and new business goals at each account and, together with the product managers, to determine when additional resources are required at customer locations. Most of our sales personnel are compensated, in part, on their bookings and their ability to identify and obtain new business opportunities.
Though typically performed by employees, the account manager function may be performed by independent representatives depending on the specific customer, product and geographic location. We also use a number of distributors to provide logistical support as well as primary customer contact with certain smaller accounts. Our major distributors are Aviall, Inc. (a subsidiary of The Boeing Company) and Satair A/S.
Manufacturing and Engineering
We maintain fifteen principal manufacturing facilities. Each manufacturing facility comprises manufacturing, distribution and engineering as well as administrative functions, including management, sales and finance. We continually strive to improve productivity and reduce costs, including rationalization of operations, developing improved control systems that allow for accurate product profit and loss accounting, investing in equipment, tooling, and information systems and implementing broad-based employee training programs. Management believes that our manufacturing systems and equipment contribute to our ability to compete by permitting us to meet the rigorous tolerances and cost sensitive price structure of aircraft component customers.
We attempt to differentiate ourselves from our competitors by producing uniquely engineered products with high quality and timely delivery. Our engineering costs are recorded in Cost of Sales and in Selling and Administrative captions in our Statements of Income. Total engineering expense represents approximately 9% of our operating units’ aggregate costs, or approximately 5% of our consolidated net sales. Our proprietary products, and particularly our new product initiatives, are designed by our engineering staff and are intended to serve the needs of the aircraft component industry. These proprietary designs must withstand the extraordinary conditions and stresses that will be endured by products during use and meet the rigorous demands of our customers’ tolerance and quality requirements.
We use sophisticated equipment and procedures to attempt to ensure the quality of our products and comply with military specifications and Federal Aviation Administration (the “FAA”) and OEM certification requirements. We perform a variety of testing procedures, including testing under different temperature, humidity and altitude levels, shock and vibration testing and X-ray fluorescent measurement. These procedures, together with other customer approved techniques for document, process and quality control, are used throughout our manufacturing facilities.