As far back as he can remember, Don Myers was fascinated by airplanes.
His father was a pilot, his brother’s a pilot, and so is he. Although Myers’ duties as director of aerospace sales and marketing at Toray Composite Materials America Inc. and newest role as S.C. Aerospace Advisory Board chair keeps him out of the cockpit most days, his interest in aerospace technology and family heritage has him grounded firmly in the field.
Alongside his father and grandfather, Myers remembers going to Reagan National Airport as a child to watch the Concorde fly in and out. He remembers seeing the plane Chuck Yeager used to break the sound barrier.
“Being around the technology my whole life made a career tangible,” he said.
Although Myers was born in Columbia, his father’s military service kept him on the move at an early age, and he spent time in Virginia and Southern California before returning home to South Carolina to finish high school at A.C. Flora.
While still in school, Myers played baseball and did his best to keep busy.
“I worked for the local rec like Chris Farley’s character in ‘Black Sheep,’ and I worked at the mall,” he said. “I had to be doing something.”
After graduating high school, Myers decided to go big and enroll at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, Florida. The college produces the most aerospace engineers and is the largest university of its kind in the U.S.
“Dad was an engineer first and foremost, and his understanding of the technology inspired mine,” he said.
Before joining the S.C. Aerospace team, Myers’ career included work in the corporate and general aviation industry with extensive experience in commercial, military, and corporate aircraft operations; sales and finance; supply chain management; and Federal Aviation Regulations.
Q&A with Don Myers:
UBJ: How will S.C. Aerospace define success in 2020?
MYERS: Success will mean continuing work on what we’ve been doing, which is to connect, grow, and support the aerospace cluster in the state.
First and foremost, I’d like to grow the number of companies involved in S.C. Aero. Participation is at the core of what we are trying to do, and actively increasing the number of companies is key to this.
UBJ: As an aerospace executive and chair of an organization trying to grow the sector in your home state, what keeps you up at night?
Right now, it’s workforce. We currently have what I refer to as a “high class” problem in our state’s aerospace manufacturing sector.
We have a lot of exciting things happening in the sector, but it’s a problem if we don’t have the workforce to support it. It’s absolutely critical that we continue to put efforts into growing and preparing our workforce to be successful.
This starts in the classroom at a young age and spans all the way to how we develop applicable training and curriculum in the classrooms of our technical schools and universities, to how we recruit talent into the state. S.C. Aero will continue to lead the efforts on this and work with the state on making this a priority.