Michael Benson, President, Baron NDTMichael Benson, President
Safety and reliability are top priorities in the aerospace industry. Over its lifespan, an aircraft performs numerous takeoffs, inflight maneuvers, and landing cycles, which invariably places enormous stress on all its components and structures. Aircraft structures are also susceptible to corrosion and fatigue damage. High-quality inspection and non-destructive testing (NDT) serves as the first line of defense to keep such threats at bay. Not only aircraft, NDT also helps determine the structural integrity, strength, reliability, suitability, and overall health of industrial assets and public infrastructures such as dams, pipelines, and bridges. With numerous lives at stake, it is absolutely critical for companies to keep these essential assets operational and identify potential mechanical and structural failures in equipment and materials proactively.

However, companies often struggle with utilizing NDT effectively, as they lack the comprehensive understanding of various NDT methods available, their advantages and disadvantages, and the knowledge of different specifications and standards. This is where Baron NDT is moving the needle as a one-stop NDT shop.

As a Jacksonville, FL-based repair station, Baron NDT specializes in non-destructive aircraft and industrial testing, training, and certification of NDT personnel and Level III Consulting services. From Magnetic Particle Inspections (MT), Liquid Penetrant Inspections (PT), Ultrasonic Inspections (UT) including advanced Phased Array (PAUT), Eddy Current Inspections (ET), Radiographic Inspections (RT), Thermography Inspections (IRT), and Visual Weld Inspections (CWI)— Baron NDT has the capabilities and the knowledge to cover the entire gamut of NDT services. With this broad range of inspection capabilities, Baron NDT supports companies in the aerospace, nuclear, oil & gas, marine, fabrication, and amusements industries to navigate the complex NDT landscape.

“We’re one of the few companies that can perform NDT across every platform, whether it’s aerospace or industrial fabrication. We do not know of any other company with such varied expertise that can inspect a rocket ship, a navy boat, a power plant, as well as a Boeing 777 on the same day,” states Michael Benson, President at Baron NDT. In addition to conducting dam and pipeline inspections, Baron NDT conducts inspections on roller coasters for amusement parks. The company is also working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and also performs inspections on U.S. Navy ships.
  • We’re a one-stop-shop for all the NDT needs—from engineering, Level III certification of procedures, approvals of procedures, and the implementation and performing of the actual tests

The Beginning Chapters

Baron NDT was founded as a Service-Disabled Veteran- Owned Business by Benson, who served in the U.S. Navy for ten years. Having been a hands-on inspector with over 20 years of experience in quality inspection, Benson decided to start his venture and began the long process of building the foundation for a successful NDT company. Given that all NDT companies must have a Level III on staff per regulation for inspections, Benson achieved 6 ASNT Level III certifications in Visual Testing, Magnetic Particle Inspections, Liquid Penetrant Testing, Ultrasonic Inspections, Eddy Current Inspections, and Radiographic Inspections.

Beginning with online training and non-destructive testing consulting in 2016, Baron NDT continued to add more equipment to its arsenal. Baron NDT is now an FAA certified repair station (Part 145) working on all aircraft types, including heavy passenger aircraft. From humble beginnings with Benson as the only employee, Baron NDT has aggressively grown over the past three years to become a multi-million dollar business with over 300 clients worldwide. Currently, the company is working on contracts in Italy, Cuba, and several states in the U.S., including Florida and Georgia.

Achieving Highest Level of Integrity with Robust In-House Capabilities

What distinguishes Baron NDT from other players in the market is its capability to quickly obtain NDT equipment and tooling. Benson’s critical industry acumen and history of conducting nondestructive testing has helped develop a vast network, enabling him to procure tooling according to the requirements of a project faster than anyone else in the industry. Moreover, Benson personally supervises all activities to ensure client satisfaction and also helps develop and generate procedures for the military and spacecraft of large companies like Virgin Galactic. Under his leadership, Baron NDT has enhanced its in-house capabilities to develop and generate NDT procedures for assets that may not have a procedure in place. “We’re a one-stop-shop for all the NDT needs—from engineering, Level III certification of procedures, approvals of procedures, and the implementation and performing of the actual tests,” Benson asserts.

We’re one of the few companies that can perform NDT across every platform, whether it’s aerospace or industrial fabrication

Due to Benson’s broad expertise, Baron NDT can successfully deliver its services in hard-to-staff places like Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Although it’s challenging to get people to pass background checks there, Benson has been able to deploy skilled professionals and submit a name to conduct advanced testing within a day. Impressed by Baron NDT’s work and quality of service, the German multinational conglomerate Siemens praised Baron NDT for inspection on all its Cuba projects.

Undivided Focus on Customer Satisfaction

Leveraging their fully insured Level III capabilities, the Baron NDT team seamlessly handles all documentation sent over by the client and effectively quotes, bids, and determines the tooling they need while ensuring compliance with the project requirements. Baron NDT’s subject matter experts are keen on delivering each project on schedule and with the highest level of integrity. “Customer’s schedule is number one priority to me. I never want to hear a customer say that we’re waiting on NDT. That’s my whole motto. And if someone says they’re waiting on NDT, then I know we’re failing,” remarks Benson. To put things in perspective, Benson explains that if there is an aircraft that’s running four weeks behind schedule and needs to be inspected, Baron NDT’s team would leave no stone unturned to get them up and running as quickly as possible, even if it requires working around the clock.

“Even though we’re scaling our business rapidly, we are nimble enough to place customer satisfaction at the core of everything we do by focusing on service quality. In fact, we have a direct line of communication with our clients and they can reach out to me directly whenever any problem/issue arises and expect a quick resolution,” says Benson. This is highly unlikely in bigger companies wherein reaching the top management is a grueling challenge.

Benson’s vast industry knowledge as a hands-on inspector has enabled him to shape up an incredibly high-performing team that has the capability to handle all NDT requirements. Benson ensures that his valuable knowledge trickles down to each of his team members so that they are equally equipped to perform a job. He also trains and certifies every inspector personally. In fact, Benson recently conducted inspections on an Airbus A319 with one of his inspectors in Kansas City. “We often hear our clients complain about NDT inspectors’ lack of knowledge of equipment and procedures, and we show them that it is never going to be the case with Baron NDT,” claims Benson. The company’s NDT technicians are all trained and qualified to SNT-TC-1A, NAS410, and ATA-105 standards, meeting and exceeding the requirements for all major projects across different industries.

Committed to Quality Excellence

With its quest for innovation, Baron NDT stays ahead of the curve by leveraging the latest technologies in the market. The company has been gaining huge traction due to the consistent quality of its services, as evinced by numerous glowing testimonials. Matthew Gazaleh, a client, shares, “Baron NDT is a knowledgeable, assertive, and affordable establishment. They have always delivered, working through the night on certain projects to meet customer demands and timelines. I would recommend their services for all NDT needs.” Another compliment from Jacksonville, Florida-based Aircraft Parts Store reads, “Baron NDT is a great local company with amazing customer service! We have used them several times and look forward to using them in the future!”

Baron NDT is currently working on a contract with gun manufacturers to conduct magnetic particle inspection on every gun barrel before manufacturing to ensure no cracking. This would help them manage the quality and safety concerns of anybody using these weapons. Baron NDT has also been expanding its team and hiring new talent to meet the growing demand for experts in large projects, including the one it has in Cuba. In addition, the company aims to extend its capabilities to inspect wood structures at water parks. In addition, Baron NDT plans on leveraging advanced drone inspections for conducting 3D bridge inspections.

Moving ahead, Baron NDT plans to expand its footprint worldwide. “We aim to expand into more countries and build a large team of highly trained, professional NDT technicians that can help detect damage in any infrastructure around the world. This way, we would not only be saving lives but also helping our clients and insurance companies save massive amounts of money,” notes Benson.