Building a Dream(Liner)
Growing up in Oregon, Matt Towsley gazed out his car window at the massive Boeing complex. “Everybody has somewhat of an infatuation with rockets and airplanes,” says Towsley, superintendent of facilities and asset management at Boeing South Carolina in Charleston. “When I got the opportunity to be a part of something so alluring, I couldn’t pass it up.”
Towsley, though, took a winding path to the aerospace industry with stops in manufacturing and maintenance. He started his academic career as a marketing major and basketball player at Montana State University. After graduation, he worked in Canada for a year before joining Terex (Genie), a construction equipment manufacturer, as a maintenance manager in Redmond, Washington. “Being very lean-minded, I deployed new practices in maintenance and made significant improvements in cost,” he says. “I made a name for myself as a culture change leader.”
In 2010, Genie sent Towsley to recover their plant in Fort Mill, South Carolina, which was in danger of closure. With the implementation of a lean management system, he was able to double the plant’s capacity and achieve profitability. After four successful years, Towsley was ready for a new challenge. “My wife and I had always wanted to live in Charleston, so I joined Eaton Aerospace, managing the site that makes power control pieces such as hydraulics, landing gear, and other internal components.” Towsley applied his diverse skills to lower costs, increase production rates, and take the company from low 60’s to 98 percent on-time delivery.
Nearly two years later, a job posting from Boeing caught his eye. “I read it and thought, this is me to a T,” he said. “I applied and really liked the leader who interviewed me.”
Boeing hired Towsley in 2016 as senior manager at Boeing South Carolina, where he oversees equipment maintenance in the manufacture of the 787 Dreamliner. Recently, he was promoted to an enterprisewide superintendent maintenance role.
“My new role is to facilitate step level improvements in efficiencies and cost savings across the enterprise,” he says. “We’ll deploy pilot programs at Boeing South Carolina first, then spread them to our other sites.” He’s also involved in leading human capital resource development.
Currently, Towsley is a student in Haslam’s Aerospace and Defense Executive MBA program. “I found the program extremely appealing because I wanted to learn about the whole industry, not just earn an MBA,” he says. “I’m enjoying the chance to gain insight from my peers and industry experts, learning about different leadership styles, and capturing the big picture of aerospace.”