AUTOAIR GEARS UP FOR SALES BOOM

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AutoAir Composites Inc., rebounding from a deep slump earlier this decade in its aircraft components market, is projecting sales of $30 million, an increase of about 50 percent over 1996.

AutoAir, the chief subsidiary of publicly held Cade Industries Inc., builds composite engine and airframe components and engine test equipment in a cluster of three plants in Lansing, Mich.

To handle the expected business increase, AutoAir earlier this month acquired a 45,000-square-foot building in Sunfield, Mich.

The firm plans to consolidate its engine test equipment business in the Sunfield plant, giving it more space in Lansing for composites production. It also builds the test equipment, which is installed in aircraft overhaul shops.

AutoAir also specializes in short runs and prototyping of highly engineered aerospace composites. The company fabricates a number of large-scale parts, such as nacelles and engine bells, and builds tooling for aerospace and automotive markets.

AutoAir's sales peaked at $26 million in 1992, then plummeted to $13 million in 1991 as production of jet engines used on the MD-80 airliner declined.

``When its volume reduced, we were heavily involved in making components for that engine,'' said marketing head Dennis Bagwell.

The firm slowly bounced back, while working to diversify its customer base.

For 1996, Lansing-based Cade reported profit of $1.06 million on sales of $34.9 million.