The foundation for what is now Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. dates
to the summer of 1956 when Flo and Bob Irwin founded Fullerton Air
Parts at Fullerton Municipal Airport in Southern California. Bob, born
and raised in Kansas City, MO., a pilot since the 1940's and active in
the CAP and other aviation groups, knew airplanes and the parts that
were needed to keep them flying. Flo, a native of Rochester, New York,
had no aviation background but learned the business quickly and knew
what it would take to keep customers coming back... fair prices and
good service. Fullerton Air Parts grew into one of the largest retail aircraft
parts suppliers in the western states during the next nine years.
In 1965, Bob and Flo Irwin sold the business and founded another one
which sold only one product, aircraft grade spruce lumber for aircraft
construction and restoration. Aircraft Spruce Co. quickly added more
products to its small catalog and adopted the name Aircraft Spruce &
Specialty Co., with a goal to offer everything pilots and aircraft builders'
needs. As Aircraft Spruce served more customers and more and more
products were added, staff grew from 2 in 1965 to over 150 today.
Jim Irwin, Bob and Flo's older son, grew up in the business, working in
jobs such as cutting metal and spruce, pulling and shipping orders, and
managing kit programs such as the Vari-Eze back in 1975 while still in
college. Graduating from California State University at Fullerton in
1978 with a degree in business administration (marketing), Jim
acquired the company and became president in 1980. Jim's wife Nanci,
who graduated with an accounting degree from the University of
Southern California in 1977, is vice-president and works full time managing
the company's accounting and data processing departments.
Jim Irwin has logged over 4000 hours as a multi-engine, instrument
rated pilot since 1976 and Nanci Irwin is a licensed private pilot as well.
They fly the company Twin Cessna extensively on business throughout
the Southwest. The couple's three sons -Mike, Jeff and Rob- are all in management positions with the company.
Flo and Bob Irwin, along with Jim's younger brother John, moved to
Lake Havasu City, Arizona in the fall of 1983 and founded ACS
Products Co., which manufactures a line of products which is distributed
by Aircraft Spruce. Flo Irwin passed away on June 10, 1989, but
the legacy of this warm, outgoing, and talented businesswoman lives
on in the businesses she founded and built to serve the aviation community.
John Irwin and his wife Frances now manage the
ACS Products Co. operation. Bob Irwin was an instrument rated pilot with
more than 2000 hours logged and based his 1968 Navion
Rangemaster at Lake Havasu City until May 2000 when Bob retired as
a pilot, after fifty years of flying, and moved the Navion to Chino Airport
for his grandchildren to fly. Prior to acquiring the Rangemaster in 1976,
Bob owned a Vultee BT-13B and a 1949 Ryan Navion. Bob Irwin passed away on June 26, 2015 at his home in Lake Havasu City, Arizona at age 95.
Aircraft Spruce was housed in downtown Fullerton, CA. from its founding
in 1965 until late 1997. The last 24 years in Fullerton the company
was operated in a historic Fullerton former citrus packing house, which
we eventually outgrew. In the fall of 1997, Aircraft Spruce moved to a
new, 62,000 square foot facility in Corona, California. In the Spring of
2004, Aircraft Spruce East moved to a new 52,000 Sq. Ft. facility in
Peachtree City, GA from its old home in Griffin, GA. Aircraft Spruce
Canada was opened in Toronto in December 2006 and moved to the Brantford, Ontario Airport in October 2008. We are proud of the
tradition of our company that now dates back some 52 years, and are
pleased to have had the opportunity to help aviators around the world
build the plane of their dreams. Our growth, from a single room in 1965
to 120,000 square feet in three facilities that we have today, has been
a direct result of the loyalty and patronage of our customers. Our goal
is to continue to provide the very best in products, prices, and customer
service to our friends in the years to come.