Ahead of last year's Farnborough Air Show, Rachid Bendali, LORD Corp's head of aerospace business strategy in Europe, told ShowNews of his company's plans to double its sales within a decade, with much of that growth coming from investments in the continent. A year on, the Geneva-based executive says the company is on track towards meeting that ambitious target.

“It's going really well,” Bendali says. "We've had another banner year in 2014, and we expect even more growth in '15 than we realized in '14. Of course, in the aerospace world it takes a little bit more time to get traction than in certain other areas, but our focus is yielding benefits.”

The decision to grow the company's European operations was a logical move considering the limited further expansion possible in the North Carolina-headquartered LORD's home market. The company opened an administrative and technology center in Geneva in 2009 and has been working towards a deeper expansion of its business in the region.

“Europe is not only a region where there's a lot of technical innovation top to bottom, from Clean Skies all the way down to what the sub-sub-suppliers do in terms of research and development, which is really important: but also Europe produces more than 50% of aircraft worldwide, of course led by the Airbus Group,” Bendali says. “So that's a major focus for us on new platforms, on new developments. Also, we have to take into account the business that we have, and ask how we have access to more markets and serve our existing customers better. And that's through partnerships.”

While the company continues to pursue growth through acquisitions, its pursuit of strategic partnerships is a vital element in its plans to achieve those ambitious overall goals. A key part of LORD's ongoing European expansion has come through a distribution deal signed last year with the Airbus Group's Satair subsidiary, which has enhanced LORD's ability to serve extant customers as well as new ones.

“The partnership agreement with Satair means in essence they become a distributor for our products that already exist to customers in the Europe, Middle East and Asia region,” Bendali explains. “So far it's going really well, and we're starting to see the benefits of that in terms of geographic expansion, and customers that we didn't reach well enough in the past.”

The company is also expanding its own European staffing, with the aim of providing more finely tuned local services. It has also opened an office in Toulouse.

“We're making investments,” Bendali says. “Our technical centre in Geneva keeps acquiring local talent that not only speaks the local languages but is a short hop away from all our major customers.”

The aim is to have the best of both worlds: for LORD to serve localized markets with precisely and appropriately tailored solutions, yet leverage the resources and marketplace muscle of a multinational.

“Our customers are really happy that they have another viable source with the financial stability and the strategic vision to help them develop new systems and new aircraft,” Bendali says.

He also implies that the company's investment in projects like Clean Skies offer a means of both maintaining technological advantage and reassuring current and potential future customers that LORD are in the market for the long haul. “We participate in the Clean Sky 1 project, and we're the only engine-attach system provider on that project. We've submitted early proposals for a work package on engine-attach systems for Clean Sky 2, and we are in the process of developing similar proposals for work packages on the rotary wing side for Clean Sky 2 as well. These are projects that will never yield a production system – as we all know, they're research and development projects – but we're making those investments nonetheless.”

The strategy towards investment, partnership and engagement is reflected in LORD's presence here, which stresses the personal touch rather than giving the hard sell to the company's extensive range of technologies.

“For us, Paris is an opportunity to meet current customers at high level, but also to develop new ones,” says Bendali. “We do not exhibit at these shows: we have a chalet and we communicate that way. But we have a significant presence, as we did two years ago (here), and our executive team is looking forward to listening to our current customers for their needs and areas where we can collaborate and improve together. We're also looking to develop new relationships.”