Q&A with Keith Bagley, President of Hartzell Engine Tech
Hartzell Engine Tech (HET) offers aircraft engine accessories and cabin heating solutions to meet the demanding challenges of today’s aircraft systems. Hartzell Engine Tech President, Keith Bagley, shares how the company continues to improve upon performance, quality, and support.
Hartzell: You have extensive experience in commercial aerospace manufacturing and operations. What drew you to general aviation?
Keith Bagley: After earning my undergrad degree in mechanical engineering, I had a couple of job offers. One was with a roofing shingle manufacturer, and the other was with Pratt & Whitney as a manufacturing engineer. When I imagined telling people I help to manufacture shingles versus jet engines…let’s just say it was a pretty simple decision. I held several positions at Pratt & Whitney’s facilities in Maine and Connecticut and served as the General Manager of their OEM operation, Columbus Forge, in Georgia. Then, after over 13 years in the commercial aerospace industry, I received a call about a position at Hartzell Engine Tech. I hadn’t even heard of general aviation at the time, but going from a big corporate environment to the autonomous, family-like atmosphere at Hartzell was very appealing.
H: Since joining HET, you’ve earned your private pilot’s license and instrument rating. Why did you want to become a pilot, and how does it inform how you approach your role?
KB: Joe Brown really encouraged me to pursue flying because he believes it’s important to have aviators in the business. So I jumped in with both feet, earning my PPL in 2018 and instrument rating in 2019. This year, I transitioned to flying a TBM and have over 1,100 flight hours now. Becoming a pilot has absolutely changed my perspective on everything we do at HET. It raised the significance of delivering the highest quality products and getting it right the first time. Plus, I’m that much more connected to our customers and end-users. When someone calls us because they’re stranded on the ground with a bad starter, I know exactly what that feels like. I want to do everything to help them because it’s not a business transaction at that point; it’s personal.
H: HET has built a solid foundation of industry-leading aviation brands. Can you share more about the types of products you offer?
KB: Our portfolio consists of Janitrol Aero, Fuelcraft, Plane-Power, Sky-Tec, and AeroForce Turbocharger Systems. With the product lines we offer, anything that’s firewall forward in reciprocating engines falls into our realm of possibility. Our focus is completely on engine accessories — if it’s bolted onto the engine, it’s something we would consider making at some point in time.
Quality Aircraft Accessories (QAA), also part of the Hartzell Family of Brands, enhances HET’s aftermarket presence by providing an e-commerce platform and full product life-cycle support for HET products.
H: What’s on the horizon for HET?
KB: We’re always going to work on being the best at what we do, constantly improving our products and expanding our current product portfolio. Our focus has been predominantly on piston engines, but we also see growth opportunities for engine accessories in the turboprop market. The demand for private business travel and general aviation as a whole has undoubtedly spiked in the wake of the pandemic. Add to that the pilot shortage, and we’re seeing increasing demand from the flight schools who use our products on their trainers.
H: ‘Built on Honor’ is the guiding principle for the Hartzell Aviation Family of Brands. What does it mean to you?
KB: To me, Built on Honor means doing the right thing, whether it’s the right thing for a customer, an employee, or a colleague. It’s about taking a person-first approach and acting with integrity — doing what’s right even when no one is watching. Built on Honor solidifies the strong culture at the heart of all the Hartzell Aviation companies.