It was an up-and-down week for Fort Worth, the F-35 Lightning II and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
First, there was the good news that the Air Force picked Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth to get a squadron of F-35 stealth fighters sometime in 2020. The base was picked partially because the sprawling Lockheed Martin plant where the jet is built sits right next door.
Then Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson had what she called a “great meeting” with President-elect Donald Trump about getting the costs of the F-35 down while also boosting employment at the Fort Worth plant by 1,800 workers. Most recently, the company had said it was going to add about 1,000 folks.
In another milestone, Lockheed delivered its 200th operational aircraft, this one built for the Japanese government. The F-35 was flown to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where the training by the Air Force and international customers is done.
But on the downside there was a letter to Hewson from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, a frequent critic of the program, over the latest production delay, which could boost the cost of the program by $500 million. He wrote that he had a hard time reconciling this with her promises to “drive down” F-35 costs.
“This is yet another troubling sign for a program that has already nearly doubled in cost, taken nearly two decades to field, and has long been the poster child for acquisition malpractice,” McCain said in a statement.
While Hewson continues to make nice with Trump over the F-35, McCain’s statement and letter clearly show that the stealth fighter still has to fly through some rough skies, especially since it is one of the few things where McCain and the president-elect are of the same mind.
“If Lockheed Martin believes it is possible to aggressively drive down the cost of the F-35, it is time for the company to reveal its plans to do so to the Congress and to American taxpayers,” McCain said.
Goosehead Insurace gives Solana a goose
Goosehead Insurance, a fast-growing agency and franchiser, is moving its corporate headquarters from Irving to the Solana business park in Westlake.
The company has signed a lease for 62,000 square feet in office space at Solana, which recently completed a $70 million renovation. Goosehead plans to move about 150 employees to Westlake by Aug. 1 from its current home office on Royal Lane, CEO Mark Jones said.
Goosehead, founded in 2003, is one of the country’s largest personal line agencies, selling policies offered by a variety of major insurers for automotive, homeowners, renters, motorycle, boat and other coverage, Jones said. Over the last five years, the company has opened 250 franchises in Texas, California, Florida, Virginia and Illinois.
In a statement, Jeff Eckert, a managing director with JLL in Dallas, said Goosehead joins a roster of companies that includes Sabre, TD Ameritrade, Marsh & McLennan, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Fidelity and Charles Schwab with operations in the Westlake-Southlake area. JLL negotiated the lease on behalf of the landlord, Equity Office Properties.
“Significant capital investments to the infrastructure, recent high-end renovations to the real estate itself and strong institutional ownership from Equity Office have made Solana a real option for companies like Goosehead Insurance to strongly consider for its office space needs,” Eckert said in the statement.
Solana has 1.2 million square feet of Class A office space and 44,000 square feet of retail space. The development has a recently renovated 38,000-square-foot Larry North Fitness Center, a full-service Marriott hotel and conference center, and numerous restaurants.
Goosehead Insurance also has a sales office in Fort Worth on South University Drive.
American CEO sells stock
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker made a small profit in a stock sale last week.
Parker sold off 90,000 shares that were stock appreciation rights, which are similar to stock options, earning $329,861.28 from the sale. The options were awarded to Parker in 2007 while he was chief executive of US Airways and were set to expire in April.
According to a government filing made Thursday, Parker sold the shares at $49 a share. Since the stock rights were priced at $45.01 a share, he made about $3.99 per share.
The sale was part of investment plan Parker filed back in October that said the shares would be sold if American’s stock [ticker: AAL] reached a certain price. After the sale, Parker still owns over 1.5 million shares of American stock worth approximately $73.6 million.
He gained $9.47 million in December as part of a similar stock sale noted in the investment plan.
Tandy award presented
David Aldrich, a broker with the commercial real estate firm William C. Jennings Co., has been awarded the 2016 Charles D. Tandy Commercial Realtor Award from the Society of Commercial Realtors.
The award recognizes commercial Realtors who best exemplify the highest in professional standards, the organization said. It is named in honor of the late Fort Worth businessman Charles Tandy. The award was first presented in 1990.
Aldrich, a Fort Worth native, has been with the Jennings Co. for 32 years. He began his brokerage career in 1984 before transitioning into property management.
Bill Thornton, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s CEO, presented the award recently. Sandra Baker