Vertex Gets Welcome Mat

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Vertex Aerospace won the contract, competing successfully with Boeing, and took over the operation Oct. 1.

President and CEO Dan Grafton visited Meridian for a get-acquainted visit Monday.

"We'll support all of the aircraft, including ground based training systems, to support their flying programs there," Grafton said.

The company CEO said Vertex, headquartered in Madison, Miss., has been around for 28 years.

"We do a lot of business with the United States Navy and this is an advance of our already good Navy business and we'll be supporting the almost 200 T-45s in both Meridian and Kingsville, Texas," Grafton said.

Vertex acquired Raytheon Aerospace in June of this year and then was recently sold to L-3 Communications for $650 million dollars in cash. The deal will close in December and will make an already big company even bigger.

"We have over 7,000 employees in 325 locations," said Grafton. "We're in 42 states. And the Navy is our largest customer."

Vertex realized over $500 million in revenue in 2002, anticipates $630 million this year and projects about $710 million in 2004.

Frank Lanza, chairman and CEO of L-3 Communications, said the purchase was made because Vertex is a growth company that is well positioned to benefit from projected increases in the annual $115 billion operations and maintenance budget established by the Department of Defense.