Remembering John W. Basso, Co-Founder of McStarlite

It is with great sadness that we share with our Aerospace Business partners and friends the recent passing of John W. Basso, 88, one of the Founders and Owners of the McStarlite Company in Harbor City, CA.

John began his career in sheet metal forming and manufacturing in 1955 with the Starlite Company, a manufacturer of drop tanks, TR3 car fenders, toilet bowls, and lawnmowers. In 1967, the McDonough Power Equipment purchased Starlite Company and changed the name to McDonough Starlite. While continuing to produce a variety of commercial products, McDonough ventured into the Aerospace business with the production of the first one-piece nacelle inlet for the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 program.

In 1973 John and a fellow employee, Henry Mataalii, purchased the Harbor City facility from McDonough and renamed the company the McStarlite Company that year. At great risk, both partners mortgaged their personal homes to secure a loan to purchase the facility, with the hope they could grow the business through the future.

Under the new leadership of John and Henry, McStarlite began to focus heavily on aerospace opportunities, more specifically, nacelle inlet production for a variety of aerospace companies. It was in 1981 that McStarlite was approved by the Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company to produce the first one-piece nacelle inlets for the new 767 and 757 programs. This success catapulted McStarlite into the world of high production manufacturing which continued to grow with the addition of other new customers and programs. Today, although still considered a small business with only 85 people, McStarlite remains one of the world’s largest producers of nacelle inlets, with notable customers such as Airbus, Boeing, Spirit Aerospace, Cessna/Textron, EMBRAER and Gulfstream on an incredibly broad range of commercial, military and business jet programs.

In 2012, John officially retired as President of McStarlite, passing the baton to his son John Allen Basso as his successor. John remained as CEO of the Company, continuing to go into his office daily to be near the company and people he loved so dearly.

John will always be remembered as a kind and benevolent man, and employer. From the annual Company parties at Knott’s Berry Farm, to Christmas turkeys and hams, John was always looking for a way to give back to his employees through simple acts of kindness, from bringing in donuts and goodies almost daily to very generous health and retirement benefits at the company.

He was a humble man, never boisterous or a braggart, but very proud of the success the employees and company attained through the years. He was honest and sincere and lived by the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you would wish them to treat you.” He was considered a most loyal and trusted friend by all who knew him, and those of us who did consider ourselves better people and our lives more full of joy having known such a wonderful and kind soul.

In memory of John W. Basso, and sympathies to the Basso and McStarlite families.