Ranger Aerospace, the privately held investment and management holding company with offices adjacent to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, attracted the notice of the helicopter community when it sold Keystone Helicopters to Sikorsky in 2005 after fortifying the West Chester, Pa. operation from less than $50 million in revenue to more than $125 million while tripling employment and profits.
Steve Townes, Ranger Aerospace president and CEO, said at a Monday morning press gathering that Ranger’s acquisition of Texas Aviation Services (TAS) on Fort Worth Meacham Field last June will be the basis for a similar success story over the next five years. “We intend to create the largest and best independent rotorcraft technical services company in the South. We’ve done it before and we’re doing it again.”
Soon after purchasing TAS from founder Carl “Woody” Woodard and his son Tim (who continues as TAS president), Ranger acquired two Reno, Nev. companies–Integrated Flight Systems (IFS), maker and installer of helicopter air-conditioning and video systems, and Platinum Aviation Group, an FAA repair station specializing in custom helicopter modifications. Both operations are being relocated to the TAS site in Fort Worth.
Townes said that the IFS and Platinum acquisitions “fit excellently with our strategy of building deeper technical capabilities for our civilian and military rotorcraft customers.” He added that the three acquisitions in the past nine months are only initial steps in consolidating a wide range of capabilities into a depot-level, full-service rotorcraft facility. “We have several other acquisitions in negotiation right now,” Townes said.
Townes and his partners in Ranger Aerospace–primarily Trinity Hunt Partners–make no secret that they plan to sell TAS at some point down the line once they have increased its value. That was the case with Ranger’s first takeover, that of Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG), for which Ranger provided capital for improvements and expansion before it ultimately was folded into Signature Flight Support.
With TAS, as with ASIG and Keystone, Ranger will not follow the common takeover practice of stripping a company and reducing its workforce before selling for a quick profit, Townes said. “With TAS we’re increasing investment in training and improving benefits, pay scale and bonus opportunities for everybody who works in the building.”
The Sikorsky buyout of Keystone created a capital base that, along with the Hunt Trinity participation, gives Ranger Aerospace a debt-free foundation for acquiring, improving and expanding other helicopter service companies. Townes outlined a 10-year master plan for the TAS expansion at Meacham with emphasis on staged investments in technical capability and skilled personnel. “Our executive offices are Spartan, but the work and engineering areas are impressive and very well equipped,” he said. TAS is actively seeking to hire experienced A&P mechanics, helicopter and avionics technicians, completions specialists and program managers.
Townes announced another Ranger Aerospace initiative–launch of a partnership with Heli-X (Helicopter Exchange) for helicopter acquisitions and resale. He said the partnership is backed by readily available institutional capital for helicopter purchases, adding that Heli-X has an excellent market position as experts in helicopter brokerage and selling.