MARSHALL AEROSPACE AND DEFENCE – PROVIDING GLOBAL CAPABILITY
By Julian Nettlefold
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold meets Steve Fitz-Gerald Chief Executive of Marshall Aerospace and Defence.
In his previous incarnation as a rookie salesman working for SMC Engineering in the eighties, it was always a pleasure for the Editor to go up to Cambridge to see Marshall Specialist Vehicles as it was then to discuss forthcoming Land Rover projects with John Arnold and his team. Thus BATTLESPACE has followed the developments at Marshalls since 1998 with the Editor having the pleasure of attending the Company’s 100th Birthday Party in September 2009. We revisited the Company in August of this year to meet Steve Fitz-Gerald Chief Executive of Marshall Aerospace and Defence. The Marshall Group now boasts a turnover approaching £1.5 billion this year in a business spanning motor and truck dealerships, private jet servicing and leasing, an airport, military aircraft support for Lockheed Martin and Cessna and other marques including Bombardier and Boeing, chauffeur services, vehicle engineering, specialist engineering and armour.
Steve Fitz-Gerald joined Marshall Aerospace as Chief Executive Officer in January 2011. With a background mainly in Aerospace and Defence, Steve is an industry leader with a great track record. He began his career with Plessey Radar in 1974 as an electronics engineer. He became President of Cobham Aviation Services Division until December 2010.
Evolution of the Marshall Group
It is worth looking at the evolution of the Marshall Group since its inception in October 1909 to see how the Company has evolved to become one of the U.K.’s largest private companies and a world leader in aerospace and defence.
Marshall of Cambridge was founded by David Gregory Marshall on 1st October 1909 in a small lock-up premises in Brunswick Gardens, Cambridge, as a chauffeur drive company for Cambridge University in particular. During the First World War, the chauffeur business continued, and the garage premises, which had relocated to Jesus Lane were used to help with servicing and maintenance of Army ambulances.
In 1921, Marshall became the first Austin distributorship for Cambridgeshire. Marshall entered the aviation business in 1929, opening its first, and small, airfield on what is now the Whitehill housing estate, providing flying training on de Havilland Gipsy Moth aircraft. Moving to the present airfield in 1937, the Company quickly became involved in teaching RAF pilots to fly and, during the course of the Second World War trained over 20,000 pilots; one sixth of the total number trained for the Royal Air Force.
The Company strengthened its flying training skills by the establishment in 1938 of an ‘ab initio’ flying instructor training scheme. During the Second World War, Marshall became involved with Lord Nuffield’s Civilian Repair Organisation carrying out modification, repair and maintenance work on over 5,000 aircraft in support of the war effort. David Marshall’s son, Arthur, later Sir Arthur Marshall, was educated at Tunbridge School and Jesus College, Cambridge where he gained a First Class Degree in Engineering, took over the running of the Company in 1942 upon the death of his father.
In 1960, the Company began its strong links with the North American aircraft industry when it became the first Gulfstream Service Centre outside the USA. These US links were strengthened in 1966 when Marshall began a relationship with Lockheed Martin in introducing the C-130K Hercules aircraft to Royal Air Force Service. Since then, the Company has provided support to the Royal Air Force on an unbroken basis on the C-130 Hercules conducting many major modifications which have included wing rebuilding, fuselage stretching and the installation of air-to-air refuelling equipment at the time of the Falklands War in 1982 in just 19 days. In 1982, the Company further strengthened its relationship with Lockheed