Fort Worth, Texas-based Trimec Aviation grew out of a partnership among three classmates in an A&P program to become the only shop dedicated exclusively to providing service for the Westwind.
Company president John Dunn began his aviation career at Butler Aviation on Meacham Field after he was discharged from the Navy in 1975. During his stint aboard a Navy oiler, a fuel-tanker vessel, “I got pretty comfortable working with fuel,” so when he returned to civilian life he joined the company as an aircraft refueler. He has been on the airport, “in one way or another, ever since.”
While working for Butler, Dunn enrolled in the Tarrant County Junior College two-year A&P program, where he met Doug St. Don and Steve Aikin, classmates who would become his future partners. The three graduated together and went to work for Darling Aviation, which eventually became Executive Jet Works. In 1986, for various reasons, the three found themselves in a position conducive to starting their own business and Trimec was born. Dunn said they had friends on Meacham Field who supported the idea and were willing to let them use hangar space rent free to get started. Dunn became president; St. Don volunteered to be vice president and Aikin opted for secretary/ treasurer. “We all owned equipment so we pooled our resources, and when it was time to incorporate we quickly came up with the idea to call our new company Trimec, for Three Mechanics.”
Trimec’s first job was a Learjet 35 inspection. “We charged the customer $7,000 for the entire job–parts, labor, everything, and we were tickled pink,” Dunn said. “I remember saying, ‘We can all make our house payments this month!’”
Within six months business justified renting half of a hangar on the field, which also included a 10- by 15-foot office. Within a year of starting up they hired their first full-time mechanic and six months later they added an administrative staff member. Now the company boasts 15 mechanics, many of whom have never worked on anything but the 1124.
“It was astronomical the way the business grew. We’d had a lot of experience working on Westwinds in previous jobs, so the word got out we were a Westwind shop. We started getting so much business we stopped working on other aircraft,” Dunn said. “We’d come in in the morning and find an airplane at our door and didn’t know whose it was. They’d just drop it off and call us later.”
Within two years the company moved into a 90- by 100-foot hangar that has since expanded to a total of 15,500-sq-ft, with 13,000 dedicated to maintenance. There is also a two-story attachment that includes office space, storage, a classroom and space leased out to Duncan Avionics. The company also leases part of a hangar adjacent to the main hangar for any overflow work.
“There’s no one else in the world that is exclusively dedicated to the 1124,” said Dunn. “If it can be done to a Westwind, we can do it,” he said. “We have more than 100 man-years of experience on Westwinds alone. We’ve established a solid relationship with our customers and we always deliver on time, on budget.” He added, “It’s difficult for anyone to compete with that much experience and focus.”
The company is an FAA-certified repair station for the Westwind and
the Astra/G100, a Worthington Aviation authorized Westwind service center and it offers avionics and TFE731 engine support. It either directly provides, or has established relationships, for paint, interior, avionics service and installation, aircraft modifications, DER Services and TFE731 engine maintenance as well as parts sales and technical services.
The company also offers fuel calibration, aircraft weighing, fuel system repair, minor and major sheet-metal repairs or modification and Keith Products Freon air conditioning installation for Westwinds.
Dunn said operators bring their aircraft to Trimec from as far away as Africa, South America, Canada and all over the U.S.
The Benefits of a Small Company
The business is continuing to grow, said Dunn. “We regularly work on 63 of the 240 Westwinds operating worldwide. We’re a small operation and we like it that way. We don’t have a very large facility and we’re averaging between $6 million and $9 million a year in business. We’re in a niche market, and our clients know us personally and have our home and cellphone numbers. We have stayed small by choice to be able to control the quality and throughput of the work.”
Dunn said it surprises new customers when they arrive for the first time, walk into the office for a briefing, their airplane follows them in the door and enters disassembly before their eyes all within about an hour.
“It’s almost always the same comment, ‘Everywhere else we’ve taken the jet it takes them two days to get it in the hangar!’ We can do a 200-hour A-Inspection in five days and a 4,800-hour structural inspection in 15 days.”
Dunn said he occasionally gets calls in the middle of the night from operators who aren’t Trimec customers.
“They’ll be stranded somewhere and some mechanic will be completely lost trying to figure out their problem. They know they can call us and we’ll help the mechanic work it out. I don’t have a problem with that,” he said. “What goes around comes around.”