LATHROP, Mo. -- An international aircraft manufacturer calls Lathrop its home -- and the company doesn't need a hangar. A basement will suffice.
The outfit was recently recognized as one of the state's top small businesses. They don't build 747s. They're into smaller aircraft.
Gerry Hinshaw loves getting things off the ground.
His expensive toys start underground. Hinshaw's cellar is home to Giant Model Products, which, according to the owner, is one of the world's leading distributors of remote-controlled model airplanes. Gerry is a former auto transport driver, who, after being injured on the job, turned a plane-making hobby into a cyber-storefront that does business around the globe via the internet. GMP has flying objects in the air in as many as six different countries.
"A lot of people have contacted me through the internet," Hinshaw said. "They've read the stories. They've seen the products and reviews on our products, which have been fantastic."
Hinshaw says his planes are more durable than those from his competitors. The average airplane costs $300-500. Some of the larger birds even come with turbine jet engines, and a price tag of up to $20,000. Hinshaw's business has taken off so well that he was recently recognized by the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Center, which celebrates achievement in business management and job creation.
"They tell me they've never had anyone as enthused as I am with the knowledge that I have ever come forward to anything like this," Hinshaw said.
Only 22 small businesses received the award. Gerry's family loves being able to do worldwide business without having to leave Lathrop.
"I think it's pretty amazing to be the son of a guy who's known throughout the world for selling airplanes," Caleb Hinshaw said. "Being in a small town like this and having such a big name out there, it really matters."
"It's a 24-7 job," Hinshaw beamed. "I don't mind it. I love to work."
Gerry Hinshaw says he will soon go to work as an online professor. His knowledge of aircraft building attracted the interests of the Universities of Arizona and Wisconsin, both of which will use his expertise in the coming year.