Unison Industries

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Unison Industries
IndustryAviation & Aerospace
Number of locations
Dayton, Ohio
Norwich, New York
Saltillo, Mexico
Key people
Giovanni Spitale, President
John Parish, VP Sales
Ron Barker, CFO
Scott Searles, VP Marketing
Productsaircraft engine components
Revenue$500 million (2007)[1]
Number of employees
ParentGE Engine Services, Inc.

Unison Industries, LLC, headquartered Jacksonville, Florida, is involved in the design, manufacture, and integration of electrical and mechanical components and systems for aircraft engines and airframes.[2][3]


Frederick Sontag holds a B.S. in physics from Harvey Mudd College, an M.S. in physics from the University of Nevada, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He worked for several corporations during the 1970s before finding himself unemployed.[4]


Sontag invested his life savings in 1980 to secure an $8 million loan for a leveraged buyout of Slick Electro, an aircraft ignition manufacturer in Rockford, Illinois. One of Sontag's first initiatives was to completely redesign the components and materials in the "Slick" products to make them more durable, reliable and easier to maintain.[5] Business was good for several years, but in the mid-1980s, the small airplane market took a nosedive and the company was forced to lay off 180 workers. Sontag dedicated more resources to research and development for better and more diverse products. In 1988, Unison invented the first solid-state ignition system for turbine-powered aircraft, which gave the company notability in the commercial aviation market.


The following year, the company purchased Bendix's aircraft ignition business from the Allied Corporation, which increased Unison's sales 500%. At the time, Bendix was the world leader in ignition systems for turbine aircraft.[5][6] The Bendix plant was in Jacksonville, Florida.

He relocated the business to Jacksonville, then paid off the original loan and reincorporated it under a new name.[7][8] The company has one of the highest numbers of engineers in Jacksonville.


Unison acquired the Engine Electrical Systems Division of BFGoodrich Aerospace in 1997, which added satellite wiring harnesses and space ignition systems to Unison's product line.[5]


In April 2000, Unison purchased Westport International, located in Orange, Connecticut. The 45-person center was managed from the Norwich, NY operation. In the Fall of 2001, company officials made the decision to move the operations at Orange to the larger complex at Norwich. It was the first time in company history that Unison had closed a facility.[3]


In April 2002, after twenty-two years operating as a private entrepreneurial business, Unison became a wholly owned subsidiary of GE Engine Services, Inc., a subsidiary of the GE Transportation division of the General Electric Company.[9][10] Sontag agreed to remain with the company as a consultant to assist in the transition.[11]


Unison serves both original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket customers in the general, commercial, and military aviation markets. The company manufactures turbine and piston engine ignition systems, electric power generation and control systems, electrical wiring harnesses and panel assemblies, sensors, switches, and bellows assemblies, tubing, ducting, brackets, flex joints, and air valves.[12]

The company operates several manufacturing facilities and logistics centers worldwide.

The company is a defense contractor, and several of their products are utilized in military applications, including ignition generators for the BGM-109 Tomahawk, which is a cruise missile. They were also involved in the development of the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 turbofan engine used in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.[13]


On January 30, 2006, a cylinder of krypton gas exploded at the company's Jacksonville facility. One person was injured and more than 40 people were exposed to low-level radiation and underwent decontamination procedures.[14][15]


  1. ^ Gibbons, Timothy J.: "Making flights in Jacksonville" Florida Times-Union, June 21, 2007
  2. ^ Bennett, Jane: "Unison expands headquarters" Jacksonville Business Journal, December 6, 2002
  3. ^ a b Schoolcraft, Lisa R.: "Unison closing Connecticut facility" Jacksonville Business Journal, October 5, 2001
  4. ^ Hunziker, Janet & Jones, Trevor: "Product Liability and Innovation: Managing Risk in an Uncertain Environment" ISBN 0-309-05130-4, Page 196, 1994
  5. ^ a b c "History" Archived July 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Unison Industries
  6. ^ "Unison Industries, Starting up" Archived June 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine The Manufacturer, Company Profiles
  7. ^ Gordon, Mark: "Cranking the engines: Business is booming for Unison Industries" Florida Times-Union, January 22, 2001
  8. ^ Finotti, John: "Unison rides aviation's ups, downs" Florida Times-Union, April 28, 1997
  9. ^ "GE Engine Services To Acquire Unison Industries, Inc" (Press release). GE Engine Services. January 8, 2002. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  10. ^ Fla. Blast Injures Eight, Releases Gas
  11. ^ "Press Release" GE Aviation
  12. ^ Unison Industries: Unison Industries-AboutUs Archived February 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Defense bill sending millions to Jacksonville" Jacksonville Business Journal, October 17, 2008
  14. ^ "Explosion On Southside" WTLV News, January 30, 2006
  15. ^ "Radiation checked in N. Florida explosion" Florida Today, January 30, 2006

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