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Sun., Feb. 17, 2013, 4:18 p.m.

Hayden firm headed by exec accused of slapping child on flight has 130 workers

Updated Sunday, Feb. 17  7:34 p.m.

The company that runs the Hayden business headed by Joe Ricky Hundley announced his dismissal Sunday afternoon. An AP story explains the decision.

Recent news stories about a North Idaho businessman embroiled in accusations of abusive behavior on a commericial flight sent us back to the news library to get some context..

The first wire story from the AP on Friday noted that Joe Rickey Hundley, who runs Hayden-based UNITECH Composites, has been charged with assault for slapping a child on a Feb. 8 flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta. On Saturday newer stories reported that Hundley was suspended by his corporate superiors.

The original stories include assertions by the child's mother that Hundley, who's 60, used a racial slur..

Hunley and UNITECH have been mentioned in a number of previous stories.

In October 2012 a reporter interviewed Hundley and wrote about the company. The story said Hundley is running a company with 130 workers. For this area, that's a major manufacturer. The story below was part of the SR's The Road Ahead series, focusing on jobs.

What began as a mom-and-pop startup in Hayden more than 30 years ago has grown into a major Northwest supplier of composite parts for the aerospace industry.

Tucked into five buildings at the Coeur d'Alene Airport, Unitech Composites and Structures produces and ships 14,000 airplane parts per month. Much of the fabrication happens in the controlled environment of clean rooms using materials such as Kevlar, fiberglass and phenolics.

The company is capitalizing on growing demand for lightweight parts for a new generation of super-efficient airplanes. About 40 percent of its business is military orders, and the rest is for commercial aircraft.

The manufacturer's products can be found on every commercial and military plane assembled by Boeing, and soon it will begin supplying parts to Boeing's European rival Airbus, which is expanding its footprint in the U.S.

Unitech was acquired three years ago by AGC Aerospace & Defense, a private equity corporation based in Oklahoma City. AGC has invested millions of dollars in the Hayden operation this year alone, including for a large new autoclave, which uses heat and pressure to cure composites, Unitech President Rick Hundley said.

"We've done just enormous things to this business - major investments in plant and equipment as well as in the people," he said.
The company has 130 employees and is adding more each month as demand for its products grows.

An earlier story, in the business section, noted that UNITECH had landed a signfiicant defense department contract to build components for military helicopters.

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.