Bill Lewandowski, CEO, is a West Point Academy graduate, who completed a 20 year career in the Air Force where he also obtained a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering.His major experience and responsibility were in Air Force Laboratories R&D Programs where he held positions as project and program manager, test area chief, section chief, division chief and program management reviewer of systems organizations.As the recognized Government wide expert in the area of Independent Research & Development Programs, he was responsible for the development of Government wide policy in this area. In the Pentagon, he served as secretariat to the prestigious Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. Upon retirement, Mr. Lewandowski joined the Aerospace Industries Association as Manager, Materials Management, and proceeded to be promoted to Director and Assistant Vice President, Technical Operations, over the next 10 years.He was responsible for the following Committees: Materials Management, Manufacturing, Engineering Management, Competition Advocate, Industrial Modernization Incentive Program, Electronic Data Interchange, National Aerospace Standards on Cutting Tools and the Technical Operations Council.For his entire 20 year career at AIA, he was responsible for the Tri-Association Advisory Panel on Small Businesses which consisted of the Small Business Liaison Officers from the member companies.When he first arrived at AIA the percentage of DoD and NASA subcontracts to Small Disadvantaged Businesses was stagnant at 1.6%.Managing and facilitating a number of industry initiatives implemented through the TRIAD Panel, the industry continually increased that percentage over 4 years when it surpassed its 5% DoD goal and NASA 8% goal.
During this 10 year period, Mr. Lewandowski saw major changes in the industry that were driven by the “Lean Manufacturing” tenet of long term relationships with fewer suppliers; industry consolidation and outsourcing of everything not core in answer to the death spiral of the DoD budget after the cold war; and management confusion in the canceling of mil specs as part of acquisition reform.As a result, industry had given more work to a shrunken supply base that couldn’t get the product out the door on time because of extensive customer in-plant auditing.In answer, Mr. Lewandowski developed a non-attribution forum where customers (AIA members) and suppliers (AIA Associate Members) could address issues suppliers were having in doing business with their customers.In 10 years the Council has grown from 30 to 170 suppliers; twenty-six major council meetings have been held; many issues were addressed and solved; customers’“buying” organizations laid out supplier expectations; and many suppliers grew strategically.Mr. Lewandowski has been privy to and guided the experiences of the aerospace supply base in its challenges and solutions.In 2003, he was recognized by “Aviation Week and Space Technologies Magazine” with their Laurel Award for the advocacy of suppliers and his tireless efforts to improve suppliers to succeed in a much tougher business climate.He has seen the ups of today’s surging aerospace markets and the downs of the effect of 9/11.He understands how fragile a supplier’s existence is.
"An aerospace supplier gets up in the morning and hits himself over the head with a 2X4. If that is the worse thing that happens, it has been a good day. The way to turn the 2X4 into a toothpick is to strategically grow".