Countless Long Islanders have seen the U.S. Navy’s elite flying squadron, the Blue Angels, perform aerobatic stunts at the annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park.
But most spectators are likely unaware that those F/A-18 Hornets are equipped with emergency oxygen systems made on Long Island. Ronkonkoma-based East/West Industries is an award-winning designer and manufacturer of aircraft seats, ground support equipment, and other lifesaving products.
“I love what I do,” says Teresa Ferraro, president of East/West Industries. “Saving aircrew lives is our first concern.”
Ferraro runs the company with her brother, Joe Spinosa, vice president of business development. The family business, which started as a small store in Bellmore in 1968, has grown to become one of the leading providers of high-performance products for the military and commercial customers in the aerospace industry today, serving Sikorsky Aircraft, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed, Bell Helicopter and all branches of the U,S, Department of Defense.
The woman-owned company is celebrating its 50th year in business. Ferraro says its founders, her father Dom Spinosa, a mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry, and mother, Mary Spinosa, whose background was in finance, were “true visionaries and entrepreneurs.”
The company has more than 28 patents and has manufactured more than 3,500 types of seats for helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft since its inception.
Over the last 16 months, East/West Industries has gone through a growth spurt, moving its operations to a 50,000-square-foot building, nearly twice the size of their prior facility.
“We have long-term employees and very low turnover because we have created those values of being a family business,” says Ferraro.
Mentoring young people and supporting veterans is also important to the company. Fifteen percent of its workforce are veterans. The company has 82 employees, up from 55 three years ago.
The Industrial Development Agency featured it as a model manufacturing company. Earlier this year, The Boeing Company recognized East/West Industries as Supplier of the Year in the Global Supplier Diversity category.
“Our quick response to our clients’ needs, our performance, quality of products, on-time delivery, affordable price and product diversity keep our customers coming back,” says Ferraro.