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Beehive Industries Ribbon Cutting
Weekend edition May 03, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Beehive Industries invests $4 million in new West Knox facility

The manufacturing company is on pace to more than quadruple its footprint.

A then Florida-based company that acquired a Knoxville start-up in November 2021 announced Friday morning that it has opened a new 60,000-square-foot facility in West Knoxville in a $4 million investment that expands its existing space locally by a 12X factor.

Beehive Industries, which was located in Deerfield Beach, FL at the time, acquired Volunteer Aerospace, a company founded in 2016 by Jonaaron Jones, his wife (Rachel), and Devon Burkle. Volunteer Aerospace started in the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) but moved in late 2017 into a building in the Hardin Valley Area of West Knoxville.

Jonaaron Jones
Jonaaron Jones

We first spotlighted Volunteer Aerospace in this early 2018 article in teknovation.biz when Jones told us the start-up’s growth was occurring much faster than he had expected. Fast forward six years, and the same thing can be said for Beehive Industries that is now headquartered in Englewood, CO.

The company is on pace to more than quadruple its footprint, and the Knoxville expansion is a significant part of the plan, expanding from approximately 40,000 square feet less than six months ago to almost 170,000 square feet by the end of 2024.

At the time of the acquisition of Volunteer Aerospace, Beehive Industries explained that it supported the company’s vision of reindustrializing America by scaling the company’s core capabilities, employee base, and resources.

Beehive Industries gives tours of new facilities.
Beehive Industries gives tours of new facilities.

“Our vision is to reindustrialize America, and part of that means investing in the next generation of American manufacturing,” said Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Ehteshami in the November 29, 2021 announcement. “Volunteer Aerospace is at the forefront of key additive and advanced manufacturing methods and a testament to what a strong and self-sufficient future looks like for this country.”

Today, Beehive Industries has nearly 200 employees in four locations across three states. It is a U.S.-based additive manufacturing (3D printing) company specializing in the design and development of jet engines as well as parts manufacture across high-technology industries and defense.

Beehive Industries gives tours of new facilities.

“Knox County continues to be a terrific area to grow as a business with Pellissippi State Community College, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, the University of Tennessee, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory providing a well-trained workforce and technical partnerships to advance the state of manufacturing for this country,” Jones said.

He’s a jack-of-all-trades for the company whose current role is serving as President of Beehive’s Additive Manufacturing Sales.

A little more than a month ago, the company announced the successful completion of something termed “first fire.” That’s a significant milestone in the development of any new jet engine, whereby the engine produces thrust for the first time as fuel is ignited within the system. It is the first in a series of tests to validate engine performance known in the industry as FETT (first engine to test).

Sample engine
Sample engine

“That occurred 16 months after we launched the effort with one-tenth of the cost,” Gordie Follin, Chief Product Officer, told attendees at Friday’s event.

Over the next 12 to 24 months, Beehive Industries will be scaling up from producing a few engines each month to producing thousands at the Knoxville facility. Including the Colorado location, the company plans to have the capacity to produce 10,000 engines through its additive manufacturing process.

Others who spoke at the ribbon cutting included Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Second District Congressman Tim Burchett, and Robert Wagner, ORNL Associate Laboratory Director for the Energy Science and Technology Directorate. Doug Lawyer, the Knoxville Chamber’s Vice President for Economic Development, presided at the event.

Beehive Industries Ribbon Cutting
Beehive Industries Ribbon Cutting

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