Editors' Choice: Brian Barents takes his baby down the aisle to GD

 - May 28, 2008, 7:10 AM

In 1996 Brian Barents accepted a position with the newly formed Galaxy Aerospace, and along with it the responsibility for integrating the assets of Astra Jet Corp., a struggling New Jersey company with a single product–the midsize Astra SPX.

Barents, president and CEO, was also a part owner of Galaxy Aerospace, along with Chicago’s Pritzker Group and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), manufacturer of the Astra SPX.

His appointment as the head of day-to-day operations of Galaxy was no shot in the dark. He had already spent 12 years at Cessna Aircraft and risen to a position as senior v-p of sales, marketing and product support. In 1989 he joined Learjet and was given license to “do what was necessary to rebuild the company and put it on the market.” He did, and in 1990 it was sold to Bombardier for $75 million. He remained at Learjet, seeing to certification of the  Learjet 60 and the entry of the Learjet 45 into the certification flight-test program. Barents left in 1996 to lead Galaxy.

By 1997 Galaxy Aerospace officially emerged to “produce, market and support a line of advanced-technology business aircraft” built by IAI. Later that same year, Galaxy Aerospace moved from Princeton, N.J., to Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, and work began on a $15 million headquarters complex complete with an interior completions and modifications and support facility. By the time the 165,000-sq-ft facility was ready in mid-1999, a second business jet, the super-midsize Galaxy, was certified.

By 2000, Galaxy Aerospace had grown from 35 people to more than 400 and the company was delivering two Galaxys and one Astra SPX a month. Annual sales had grown from less than $100 million in 1996 to $500 million in 2000. Sales projections for last year were expected to approach $700 million.

In April last year, Gulfstream Aerospace parent company General Dynamics announced it would purchase Galaxy Aerospace for $330 million cash. The Galaxy and its smaller sister ship, the Astra SPX, would be renamed the Gulfstream 200 and Gulfstream 100, respectively, and the assets of Galaxy Aerospace would be folded into the Gulfstream operation.

Barents, 57, left Galaxy Aerospace shortly after closing the deal in June. He is currently “sitting on a number of corporate boards, staying busy and evaluating new opportunities.”