-Great co-workers, some of the easiest to get along with and more genuine people I've worked with.
-The town, Duluth is a great outdoorsy city (but you better like winter, like nine consecutive months of it with long stints of sub zero weather).
-Small company atmosphere where young engineers can get great, hands on experience and ownership/responsibility (probably too much).
-Benefits: I know it's general aviation, but pay is severely low and the COL of Duluth is actually not that low (which is somewhat ironic considering the price point of the planes they build), 401k matching takes an entire year to kick in, vacation is comical (40 hours total for your first TWO years - if you're allowed to take any).
-Life/work balance: the jet program is in survival mode after the program was scrapped for several years, only a handful of the original engineers were kept on and then they re-started the program and hired the entire jet dpt. after they were bought up by a Chinese company (who's ownership and long term plans are not the most transparent to say the least). With customers deposits still in place the new team has had to keep up the original timeline with a bulk of the new employees being fresh out of school or laid off from other industries with very limited aircraft experience overall (very low budget operation). The jet program is kind of like a start-up without the fun, perks, or talent. Weekends are very common and 6-10's are very common in crunch time for several consecutive weeks (which is unfortunate bc most employees are young parents). Don't be surprised – more... if you work a lot of 60-70 hour weeks until the jet is fully certified.
-Employee development: there is absolutely no training and it is sink or swim, you will likely not even get an annual review, and if you do what you say will not matter as you will be placed where the company needs you not where your interests lie. There is no career/employee development plans, and if you get ahead on your project you will placed on random assignments not remotely related to your background. Very limited opportunities to move around within the company, so you better enjoy your dpt. for years.
-Culture: Rather contentious - there seems to be some bad blood left from the large lay-offs several years ago still lingering in the air. Some of the techs are really hard to work with (probably a result of being worked like dogs for too long). Not many people are really into the company or product, just there for a paycheck it seems or if they're really into aviation. Communication and teamwork across design groups is severely lacking and dysfunctional - it's usually who gets there first wins, not necessarily the best design bc of the time crunch everyone's working under. Engineering management can be very difficult to work with, would recommend working with the airframe structure groups as their leads are more hands on and provide better guidance. There is seldom praise for a job well done from engineering management, and a weird amount of overly-critical feedback for such a inexperienced team (you'd be surprised how a positive/fun work environment can influence ppl's work quality). Employees are skittish about potential lay-offs if Caiga milestones are not met or after the jet program is completed.
-Process: There is large lack of oversight in the engineering and design process, and young engineers are thrown to the wolves and have to make engineering calls that could be very detrimental long-term. Unsafe design practices are not uncommon and a majority of employees would probably not feel safe flying in this aircraft. Very much a cowboy-shooting from the hip environment.
Re-cap: if you're fresh out of school or really into aviation this could get a good start to get some experience, and then move on to a company that treats their employees better.
Advice to Sr. Mgmt:
Life/jobs are full of challenges, it's how you react to these and how you treat your employees on a day to day basis that differentiate your company from the rest, retain talent, and inspire people to create great products. – less