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When aerospace and industrial control systems manufacturer Woodward, Inc. announced in 2012 that it would grow its Rockford operations, it was a cause for celebration."We assessed numerous locations before making the decision to expand in Rockford; we were most concerned about workforce availability and capability, along with the ability to be competitive in our markets," says Tom Gendron, Chairman and CEO of Woodward. Established in 1870 right here in Rockford, the then Woodward Governor Company was founded by Amos W. Woodward, who invented and patented a control or governor for mechanical waterwheels. Under Woodward's son Elmer, the company designed and manufactured controls for hydro- and industrial turbines and diesel engines, until they entered the aviation market in the 1930s with a control for aircraft propellers.Woodward's success, Gendron says, is "rooted in our history of innovation and focus on serving our customers. We continually strive to understand our customers' toughest control system issues and proactively provide innovative solutions to help them succeed in their markets. This formula has served and will continue to serve us well."Indeed it has today Woodward has a $2-billion global presence with locations in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East providing control systems and components to markets as varied as aerospace, aviation, power generation, process industry, and transportation. Major customers include Boeing, Caterpillar, Cummins, General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt and Whitney, Raytheon, and Rolls-Royce. In the aviation field alone, Woodward supplies products to about 75 percent of all propeller and jet engine equipped aircraft. In addition to serving as one of Rockford's top ten employers, Woodward is also committed to rejuvenating the Rockford region; they make both financial and curriculum contributions to Alignment Rockford an organization that supports Rockford's public schools and also actively sponsor several programs with Rock Valley College, including one for summer interns. Gendron, a Rockford native himself, is the Chairman and a Co-founder of Transform Rockford, a non-profit regional volunteer group that is formulating a strategic plan to bring long-term improvement to the social and economic condition of Rockford by 2025. With 1,500 members (employees) between its original North Second Street location and its new Rock Cut Campus, Woodward will continue to aid in Rockford's transformation. Named after the nearby state park, the Rock Cut Campus in Loves Park boasts a 70-acre site with a 450,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building that houses Woodward's Aircraft Turbine Systems and with it, is on a path to grow total employment to over 2,000 in a decade.Sagar Patel, President of Aircraft Turbine Systems, has this to say about what that means for Rockford."Woodward's culture is like the feel of a large family who cares about the success of all our stake-holders customers, shareholders, suppliers, community and, above all, our members. Our members also enjoy long-term employment and share in the success of Woodward. More than 15 percent of our company stocks are owned by our current or retired members; it leads to a lot of pride and ownership in the long-term success of Woodward. Many generations have enjoyed their successes and we look forward to continuing that journey."

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