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Published February 28, 2011, 11:16 AM

Chinese Firm to Acquire Cirrus Industries

CEO, Oberstar say jobs will stay in Grand Forks, Duluth
Plane manufacturer Cirrus Industries of Duluth says it has been sold to a Chinese company.

By: Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune

Cirrus Industries CEO Brent Wouters and former Congressman Jim Oberstar both said they expect Cirrus to keep its jobs in Duluth and Grand Forks following an announcement that the company will be acquired by a Chinese aviation company.

“You have my word that we’re going to preserve jobs here; we’re going to grow jobs here,” Wouters told the Duluth News Tribune.

While he would not release terms of the deal, Wouters said there was an agreement made to keep jobs in Duluth and Grand Forks. Moving them overseas, he said, would cost the Chinese company too much money.

“The quality of what we do here and the work ethic and efficiency with which we do it are really unparalleled,” he said. “They (the Chinese) don’t want to disturb what we have.”

Oberstar, who helped bring the company to Duluth in 1990s, said he was “really excited” about the acquisition.

“We in Duluth have nothing to fear from a Chinese partnership with Cirrus,” he said. “This an all-around strong, good development.”

Oberstar acknowledged that Cirrus will lose its control of the company and its ability to keep jobs locally, and said long-term that could have an impact.

“Long-term I would expect to some migration,” to China, he said. “But for the next five to 10 years we will see a strong partnership by the Chinese in Duluth.”

Cirrus will be purchased by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Ltd., based in Zhuhai, China, with the acquisition expected to close midway through the year, Wouters said.

Oberstar said the Chinese have long wanted to get into the aviation manufacturing industry, and purchase of Cirrus was major step toward achieving that goal.

“CAIGA brings new resources that will allow us to expedite our aircraft development programs and accelerate our global expansion,” Wouters said.

He also noted that China Aviation “understands the strength and talent of Cirrus’s workforce.” He said the new company will invest in Cirrus employees in both Minnesota and North Dakota.