The Composite Approach Team
It’s not too often that you run across a work environment where you actually like everyone you work with and call many of your co-workers friends; or strong, caring friends at that… and then there’s Composite Approach–where the closest thing that comes to mind is an old TV sitcom that ran for much of the 80’s called Cheers, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.” Except Mike has replaced Norm and Steve is the new “Coach” … well, the list goes on. Meet our team, where we’re more than co-workers, we’re family.
Owner / Technical Director
Husband, father, friend, crew chief; Brian Harris is a man of many talents and titles—mostly, he’s a man of his word. Oddly enough, titles aren’t really his thing, and that’s probably why he is as successful as he is at all that he does. Brian’s keen eye for perfection has set the bar in the composite aircraft industry. From the ground up, Brian has built his business around the basics: trust, honesty, integrity, and the good ole’ fashioned handshake. Since 1997, Brian has sculpted Composite Approach into one of the leading contract composite manufacturers in the industry; with much of our focus being in the Composite Kit Aircraft Sub-contracting business, he is continually pushing our envelope into the world of Advanced Composites as well. Born and raised in Bend, Brian has spent the majority of his life seeking every back road known to exist in Oregon. A long-time bow hunter, off-road four-wheelin’ junkie, dirt bike racer, mountain biker, pilot, and professional tinkerer, it’s a mystery how Brian finds time to sleep.
CFO / AR / AP
Wife, mother, friend, crew chief to the crew chief; Holly Harris is hands down one of the nicest women on God’s green earth. Her impeccable organizational skills, stunning sense of class, and orderly detail have given new life to a side of our business that we haven’t seen in our history. Having spent 12 years as our behind-the-scenes bookkeeper, it wasn’t until the fall of 2015 that Holly decided to make it public and official. With a degree in elementary education, Holly has spent several years of her life pouring into the lives and minds of our youth. We’re thankful and blessed to have Brian’s better half here at the office!
An Oregon native, Sam grew up on the wet, rainy side of the Cascade Mountain Range, in Salem. After high school he migrated south to San Diego County in Southern California, to complete a degree in Aviation Flight Technology. While in college he pursued his maintenance apprenticeship at a local aviation maintenance facility. After marrying and having his first child he realized the value of family and a different pace of life drove him back to the Northwest, this time to the drier side of the Cascades, Central Oregon. Since arriving back in Oregon, Sam has excelled in the high tech aviation industry, as a production flight test pilot and flight line lead mechanic at Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing in Bend, to more recently Operations Manager of RDD Enterprises, who specialized in custom aircraft kit manufacturing, aircraft modifications, and a full-service maintenance facility. We were pleased to welcome Sam onto the team as a General Manager in October of 2013. Sam is married to his best friend and is very involved in his three very active kids’ lives. Just like at work, he is a huge proponent of all things team-oriented—as evidenced by his experiences from coaching little league football, basketball, volleyball, and baseball for his kids, to leading mission teams to Africa through his church. He is committed to excellence and hard work in achieving the collective goals of all team members. His hobbies include hunting, hiking, backpacking, and all things outdoors that bring him closer to nature and the One who created it.
Kelley handles everything behind the scenes here at Composite Approach. As a former office manager for the Air Force, she certainly brings a lot of experience to our company. From fending of FedEx to crunching the numbers, there is still always something that we need from her. When Kelley’s not in a mountain of paperwork, she’s probably in the mountains glassy-water kayaking! She also loves spending quality time with her husband, two kiddos, two dogs, two cats, and two bunnies. Kelley has a big heart for Composite Approach and is always keeping our company in motion.
Growing up as a Michigan native, Brian has known a thing or two about business from a young age. Working his way up as paperboy for the Grand Rapids Press, he eventually worked on building nuclear submarines in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard; later to earn his MBA degree. Now his next chapter is right here at Composite Approach where he runs everything from sales to marketing. And that’s not the only thing he runs- Brian is a triathlete that’s tackled the Boston Marathon in under three hours! He appreciates how Brian H. and Sam make sure everyone’s goals are in alignment, and we all seem to pulling in the same direction at Composite Approach. As a father of two perfect daughters and a husband of 25 years, we are truly grateful to have Brian as a part of our team.
Production Manager / Customer Liaison
Originally one of the Back Street Boys, Mike can move on the dance floor like none other. Or maybe the story goes something like this. After Brian spent a few years building planes by himself, he decided to hire some help. Some might call it help, some might label it as a really bad nightmare, either way, Mike McReynolds showed Brian a few magic tricks and a sleight of the hand later, became Brian’s go-to man, a “second” of what would become the “three” amigos. Mike built a few Lancair kits over the years and quickly became a lead foreman around the ever-growing shop that is now hammering out Kitty Hawk Flyers. After a stint away from all of the carbon fiber dust and airplane goodness, Mike “re-joined” team Composite Approach, back and better than ever (much like a Back Street Boys reunion) re-establishing his shenanigans around the shop. Mike is an incredible asset to our team and a machine when it comes to being a Kitty Hawk Lead. He is an “air master”—overseeing production of aircraft parts and acting as a liaison for aircraft customers. All kidding aside, he’s one of the most liked and respected guys around. We are truly blessed to have our close brother back. An awesome dad to three kids and a loving husband to his better half, Mike spends most of his spare time hanging out with his family.
Lead Engineer / CNC Programmer
As a kid, Guy had his own drawer full of disassembled appliances—he didn’t put them back together, he just wanted to see how they worked. As he grew older he got a diverse spread of experience putting things together through construction work, dabbling in web design, a database internship, a job at Stereo Planet (setting up wiring for home stereo systems) and house framing. In school he studied computer science, then engineering physics, and ended up obtaining his degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University. An internship at Epic Aircraft turned into a position on staff as a mechanical design engineer. Later Guy worked for Lancair as a mechanical engineer, and then at Advanced Energy as a mechanical design engineer, which became the position of engineering manager. Fun fact: Guy first met Brian, and Mike at Father’s House, where Guy later became an associate pastor for a time. These connections led to his current position as senior mechanical engineer at Composite Approach. He appreciates that Brian offers a flexible work schedule, which is helpful for him as a husband and father of two. He also values the quality of private ownership (and with it, the absence of office politics and endless meetings and emails), as well as the fact that he has the privilege of helping to develop his position; he says, “I have more control over my destiny here.”
CNC Lead Engineer
As CNC Lead Engineer, Brian is always making the cut. After getting involved in robotics, CAD, and CNC clubs in high school, he moved to New York to pursue mechanical engineering. Shortly after, Brian came to Central Oregon for the climbing, back-country snowboarding, mountain biking, and Composite Approach of course. Being interested in the aerospace field, and having a prominent background in tech, Composite Approach seems like the perfect fit for such a talented individual! We are thankful to have Brian direct the operation of our CNC machines, and simply be apart of the team.
Research & Development Team
At Composite Approach, you can find Jason working on just about anything, with a wide range of skills that he’s picked up along the way. From using fiberglass to create automotive audio panels, to gaining welding experience at Foose Design. Working on hot rods there, his team earned the Don Ridler Award and went on to star in TLC’s “Rides” and “Overhaulin'”! From there he got more involved in aircrafts, working on planes like Lancair Evolutions, where he just so happened to meet Sam. Ever since he has been an big asset to Composite Approach. When he’s not busy with product development, you can often find him bow hunting, camping, mountain biking, and spending time with his family. We’re fortunate to have Jason as a part of our team!
Lay Up Team
Lead Composite Technician
Growing up, Jack liked remote control cars—and anything else that moved. “If it makes noise, I like it,” he says. A true, native-born Bendite, he loves anything outside—including exploring the woods, riding his motorcycle, and working on his 1997 Ford F250. Jack was introduced to woodworking in high school, in a woodshop class during his freshman year. He started his own business, crafting cutting boards for two years. After high school, he earned his Associates of Arts degree at Central Oregon Community College, while working swing shifts as a composite technician at Epic Aircraft. This was his first experience in composites, and he enjoyed it so much that, after graduating from COCC, he decided to take a full-time day job in the industry—here at Composite Approach! Jack says he appreciates the care shown by the management toward employees, as well as the willingness to listen to and work with employees. He says the leadership is well-structured and he likes that the technicians have a lot of responsibility and influence in their projects. We’re happy to have Jack on board! These days, Jack still enjoys woodworking as a hobby, plays drums and bass, and really likes pot-stickers.
Lead Composite Technician
We’re blessed to have Lisa and the incredible talent she possesses here at the shop. Our expert pre-preg lay-up technician, Lisa brings 16 years of composite craftswomanship to our company. Whether it’s laying up Liquid Robotics Wavegliders at the speed of sound or crafting our Auxiliary Fuel Cells, Lisa’s headstrong determination baffles us. A Redmond, Oregon native, Lisa spends her free time chasing her kiddo, riding her horse, and stalking four-legged creatures across the vast expanses of Eastern Oregon. When asked what she appreciates and what keeps her here at Composite Approach, she says, “The diversity of work and all of the different disciplines and mediums we work in. I’m always working on and learning new things.”
Small Parts Lead / Training Specialist
No matter the situation, Pam is known here at Composite Approach for lighting up a room! Her unconditional charisma makes her a great leader to guide new employees to take on becoming layup technicians- and at the rate that Composite Approach is growing, that guidance is critical. What’s more is in the midst of that, she is still cranking out small parts like nobody’s business. Pam joined our team with the background of working alongside Lancair Experimental, where she worked on fuselage parts with some of the employees we have here today! Outside of work, Pam likes to be outside: camping, hiking, four-wheeling, and simply spending time with her family. As much as Pam loves to help us grow, we love having her on our team.
Lead Fuselage Specialist
With plenty of expertise under his belt, Cesar is always making quality parts in the Lay Up department of Composite Approach. Working with Lancair Certified, and Lancair kit builds, there’s a thing or two he knows about making composite parts; hence him leading the charge with fuselage production! It won’t take long being around Cesar to know that he has a passion for music–aside from the fact that he knows how to spin some vinyl–given he was formerly a DJ. Outside of work, he loves to hang out with his friends and play sports. Cesar brings such a friendly presence to our team here at Composite Approach, and sees the value in the work put into the final product. We’re so glad to have him!
Oven Operator / Layup Technician
Safety Operations Coordinator / Documentation Specialist
Liquid Robotics Inc. Team
Composite Technician / LRI Liaison
Father of three and foremost a husband to an incredible wife, Dan is a machine when it comes to building parts. Keep him well fed and he’ll crank out more parts than an assembly line of eight. Dan spent a few years building Lancair IV landing gear, so his familiarity with the Evolution project wasn’t anything new. Today Dan spends his days building Wavegliders for our good friends down at Liquid Robotics, while also acting as a liaison between LRI and Composite Approach. A central Oregon native, the younger of the Nelson dynamic duo finds himself chasing his three kiddos on the local hiking trails on the weekends and long summer nights. Dan is an avid hiker and backpacker, and likes to think of himself as an amateur mountain climber. A while back, Dan got himself a new mountain bike (and this time it didn’t come with training wheels)—he makes sure it gets lots of use in his free time. When asked what he likes and appreciates, and what keeps him here at Composite Approach, he says: “I love working with friends, I really like the personal responsibility given to all of us, and the encouraged creativity in our work.”
Kitty Hawk Assembly Team
Kitty Hawk Lead
Kristian originally hails from Sacramento, California, and spent some time in Ohio and Arizona before establishing a home base in Oregon. When Kristian first hit double digits, he was recruited by a neighbor for a competitive BMX bike racing team, with Phoenix Bicycles in Portland, Oregon. Test riding and racing BMX bikes has taken Kristian all over the country, and has given him a unique background in the carbon world—he test-rode some of the very first carbon bikes in the BMX industry. This career lasted about 10 years, and to this day Kristian still enjoys riding for fun and competing independently. These days, Kristian still works professionally with carbon—but this time, he’s on the manufacturing end. Kristian is all about learning as much as he can—so he’s a perfect fit for the opportunities in research and development here at Composite Approach. He loves the fact that he can be part of “building things people have never seen.” He really appreciates the positive environment and how teammates are willing to help each other out. Kristian is known around the shop for his ever-present smile, can walk on his hands for a good two minutes, and loves a good bowl of cake in milk (minus the frosting, of course).
Kitty Hawk Lead
Matt rocks at a lot of things; one thing in specific, is keeping Kitty Hawk Flyers in swift production. You can find him bonding, leveling, and inspecting- just to name a few things he does around here. Having experience with working with Lancair kit planes and Evolution aircraft, Matt came to Composite Approach utilizing his expertise to take part in some of the most essential parts of assembly. He loves the culture and hard-working culture this company brings. Although, Matt only works here for hobby because he is a full-time drummer in a rock band! His passion for music has taken him to go on tour to every state in the country, but that is second to his passion for people, as it is quite apparent at Composite Approach. We are grateful to have Matt here with us!