Oklahoma City-based aerospace company DRG keeps it all in family
Over the past decade, Oklahoma City-based Delaware Resource Group has grown from a small aerospace operation founded by the Busey family to employing more than 650 people worldwide.
Company founder Phil Busey Sr. had built a well-established career as an attorney in the banking industry and tribal matters when he decided to strike out on his own in 2002 to explore a business in government contracting, which often gives preference to minority-owned companies. The Busey family has American Indian heritage from both the Cherokee and Delaware tribes, and the company also takes its name from the Delaware Tribe.
Busey said he wanted to keep the family-like qualities in the business as it grew. Wife Cathy Busey is executive vice president and oversees much of the company's finances. Sons Brian and Philip Busey Jr. are senior vice presidents, with Brian also serving as chief operating officer, and Phillip as chief communications officer for the company.
“We get along very well, which is really unusual with some family businesses,” Busey Sr. said. “Both Brian and Phil have separate talents and those blend well with each other, and Cathy is very good with numbers and finance and it has created a good balance.”
Finances were sometimes rocky for the company and the Busey family as DRG was starting out.
When Philip Busey Jr. and Brian Busey were college students, they stayed close to home, graduating from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford to save the family money. Philip Busey Jr. worked at the local newspaper and Brian Busey worked assembling furniture.
Philip Busey Jr. remembers his father driving to Weatherford in his beat-up car to make installment payments to the bursar's office at Southwestern. One time, he paid $200 to keep the brothers in school for two more weeks.
“He would drive out to Weatherford and he had this Mercury Sable with a shattered windshield,” Philip Busey Jr. said. “It was a humbling experience.”
Eventually, the business grew enough to employ both brothers, who set about helping to grow the company.
“I remember getting on airplanes and traveling for three years, knocking on doors, nobody knew who we were,” Brian Busey said. “By 2011 or 2012, we had grown from about 150 people to about 500 and it seemed like it happened overnight.”
The U.S. Air Force in Europe recently awarded DRG a five-year prime training contract to train active-duty military to fly F-15E, F-15C and F-16 warplanes and Sikorsky HH-60 helicopters.
Delaware provides academic, live and simulator training for military personnel training to fly missions as part of the contract.
“It's a big deal for us because we've been in the fighter-training business since we started, but for us to win an international contract is big for our growth strategy,” Brian Busey said.
The contract begins this month and DRG is expanding to new locations in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy in support of the new contract. The company also recently opened a new office in India to support C-17 training operations and F-16 training at the U.S. Air Force's Warrior Preparation Center in Einsiedlerhof, Germany.
The company recently moved into a new 38,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in the Quail Springs Corporate Park.
“We treat most of our people like family and we've been able to all make it work also because we are passionate,” Philip Busey Jr. said.
CONTRIBUTING: Real Estate Editor Richard Mize