It was important to L3Harris Technologies Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Brown that the L3Harris headquarters be located in Melbourne.
It was important enough that Brown, formerly the Harris chairman and CEO, made a deal with former L3 Technologies CEO Christopher Kubasik to headquarter L3Harris in Melbourne, after the two companies merged. L3 would come first in the name, and L3Harris’s headquarters would be in Melbourne.
“In a merger like this, you make tradeoffs,” Brown said. “I thought it was important that we be headquartered in Florida and Chris thought it was important that L3 come first. I thought it was a great trade. I would rather be here than it be called HarrisL3.”
L3Harris now is the largest aerospace and defense company based in Florida, as well as Florida’s eighth-largest company overall. L3Harris is one of the 10 largest aerospace and defense companies in the world and the sixth largest in the country.
The location of the company’s headquarters has implications for both L3Harris and Brevard County. For Brevard, it means that some jobs formerly located at L3’s now-defunct headquarters will be transferring to Brevard County. Some jobs deemed redundant will be eliminated, but the company expects the net L3Harris employment to increase in Brevard County.
For L3Harris, the location means that the company will be located where Harris had already established infrastructure and where 7,000 employees already live.
In Florida, the company has 8,400 employees with an average salary of $90,000 across 40 locations in the state. It does about $306 million a year in business with Florida suppliers, as well as $125 million in regional research-and-development funding. Its major facilities in Brevard County are in Melbourne, Palm Bay and Malabar.
Brown said that though he considers Florida a great place to do business due to its tax laws, a much larger part of the decision was the fact that Harris Technologies had become “part of the fabric of the community.”
“To me it was much more important to be part of Brevard County than it was to be part of thousands of companies and millions of people in mid-town Manhattan, and that’s really where the decision came from,” Brown said.
The location also places L3Harris in the same county where other aerospace and defense companies such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin also have sizable presences.
“I’ve been impressed with the Space Coast,” Kubasik, now vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of L3Harris, said. “I’ve learned more about it. There are great companies here, industry partners that we work with, a few that we compete with, but it’s a great place to be.”
Florida college students might also celebrate the fact that L3Harris will be headquartered in Melbourne. Harris had consistently recruited from Florida colleges such as the Florida Institute of Technology and University of Central Florida.
The company is trying to diversify the schools it recruits from, Brown said, but the company still sees quite a bit of talent coming from Florida schools.
“At the end of the day what we need to focus on is getting young folks coming out of schools with technical backgrounds to Melbourne,” Brown said. “We’re focusing a lot of times on it … We’re trying to make this an exciting place to live and work.”
L3Harris has already begun some of the hard work of merging two large corporations. Employees already have new emails with the new company name and will soon be learning about any changes to benefit plans and other possible shifts. Brown said he thinks the biggest challenge of the merger will be keeping employees focused on customer satisfaction as the changes take place.
“Mergers like this of this size … people can take their eye off the ball, they can get caught up in how the company is consolidating, coming together, and really I just want to make sure we don’t take our eye off the ball,” Brown said. “I talk about this relentlessly with people around the company.”
Brown said he hopes to maintain some of Harris’s core values in the merger. One of those is the company’s focus on diversity and inclusion. Harris received perfect ratings from the Human Rights Campaign for its LGBT inclusion. The company also made significant efforts to recruit diverse candidates and grow the ranks of women executives.
“That to me is very important, and we’re going to build this right into the way we build L3Harris as a company,” Brown said. ‘It’s part of the way we’re built, and I think it’s critically important.”
The company will also continue making efforts to give back to the community, Brown said. Harris had policies in place to match certain employee contributions and encourage employees to volunteer with charities.
We have been longtime contributors into Melbourne and Brevard County and we expect to continue to do the same … That’s what the company is based on,” Brown said.