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Joyce Pae Keeps Verus Aerospace Flying High

The past few years at Verus Aerospace certainly haven’t been easy for Chief Financial Officer Joyce Pae.

Pae said she has been in “survival mode” while navigating Verus, which in February changed its name from Cadence Aerospace, through industry issues such as the pandemic and the temporary grounding of the Boeing 737 Max planes.

“Our company lost significant revenues just like many others in the industry,” Pae told the Business Journal.

In the last year, however, Verus has rebounded through a split of the company led by Pae that was completed in May 2023.

Since the split, Pae said Verus experienced “high, double-digit growth” and has stronger liquidity than it did prior to the pandemic.

Pae’s efforts were affirmed on May 9 when she was one of five winners honored at the Business Journal’s 17th annual CFO of the Year Awards in the private company category, at the Irvine Marriott.

Difficult Decisions

When the pandemic hit, keeping Verus operating became Pae’s top priority.

She said she tapped into Paycheck Protection Program loans, reached out to the Department of Transportation for Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection grants and, in some cases, had to make difficult decisions like reducing headcount.

“We took advantage of whatever was available to keep the door open basically,” Pae said.
Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm Arlington Capital Partners in January announced the formation of a new company called Kinetic Engine Systems that will focus on manufacturing engine components for aerospace and defense.

It was formed through a combination of assets from Verus, one of Arlington’s portfolio companies, and three other acquired companies, according to a news release.

Pae has stepped in as CFO at both Verus and Kinetic for the last 12 months.

“It’s a lot of balancing,” Pae said.

The splitting of the company made sense for Verus, Pae said.

“One is aero structures, and the other is engine components,” she said. “This way it’ll be easier to manage, and we can support the customers much better.”

Overall, the split process took around four months to complete, Pae said.

Verus has since closed two acquisitions for Kinetic and finished the rebranding process for both companies, according to Pae.

She also said Verus recently found someone to replace her at Kinetic and looks forward to focusing solely on one company again.

“I’ll have the capacity to inject myself in more strategic decisions that I may not be able to get involved in right now because I’m managing two companies.”

Relocating

Pae first joined Verus as vice president of finance in 2013 before moving up to CFO in 2018.

Prior to Verus, she spent four years at another private equity-backed aerospace company in Santa Ana called Synchronous Aerospace, which was sold to Portland, Ore.-based defense contractor Precision Castparts Corp. (NYSE: PCP) in 2012. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

While a large part of her career has taken place in Orange County, Pae grew up and attended school in Illinois.

She received an accounting degree from the University of Illinois and an MBA in marketing and international business from Northwestern University.

In 2006, Pae and her husband James of 27 years, moved to Orange County to start their family and be closer to Pae’s parents.

She became introduced to private equity and the aerospace industry while working as a consultant.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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