MRO Profile: Mather Aviation

 - September 11, 2009, 8:12 AM

While other aviation maintenance companies have been struggling, Mather Aviation has been able to expand, Victor Cushing, owner and president, told AIN.

The company recently acquired a facility in Van Nuys–its first in southern California–and on June 1 began servicing aircraft of various sizes, from piston singles to midsize corporate jets. It also has an AOG mobile maintenance truck and team stationed there to serve the greater Los Angeles area.

In addition to the Van Nuys location, Mather Aviation has MRO facilities at three other California airports: Mather Field in Rancho Cordoba near Sacramento, McClellan Field, also near Sacramento, and Hayward Field across the bay from San Francisco.

Cushing began his career as an A&P mechanic at Aircraft Modification and Repair in Hayward. Fifteen months later he was hired by a Cessna-authorized service center and worked there for two years before moving on to a Beechcraft factory service center, where he was promoted to service manager. He held the position until 1991, when he left to work for Pacific Coast Building Products.

Although he was exclusively maintaining the company’s three aircraft on Rancho Murieta Airport, his previous customers kept calling and asking him to work on their aircraft too. “I talked it over with our owner, Fred Anderson. He gave me a budget of $30,000 to buy the necessary tools and equipment, and we were in business [as Rancho Murieta Aviation],” Cushing said.

The new business took off immediately and Cushing had to add a new mechanic every month for the first six months to keep up with demand. “By the end of our first year we had 15 mechanics and netted $260,000,” he said.

By 1996 Cushing had built an impressive reputation for both maintenance and management, and businessman John Clanton tried to lure him away from Rancho Murieta Aviation to start an MRO at Mather Field. “I told John I wasn’t interested because I was loyal to Fred Anderson but said if Fred wanted to move to Mather I’d be willing to go,” Cushing said.

Clanton and Anderson liked the idea, and the operation moved to Mather. Eventually Clanton bought out his partner and changed the name to Mather Aviation. Cushing bought out Clanton in 2004.

The Mather Field (Rancho Cordoba) operation near Sacramento is an authorized service center for Hawker Beechcraft jets, Pilatus, Piaggio, Bombardier Learjet and single-engine Cessnas. It has 53,325 sq ft of hangar space, 8,000 sq ft of office space and a 15,000-sq-ft corporate hangar.

Over the next few years the company’s success fueled the acquisition of three more facilities. Also in the Sacramento area is the facility located on the former McClellan AFB where Cushing rents 5,000 sq ft of hangar space from McClellan Jet Services. “A lot of turbine aircraft moved onto McClellan when it opened to the public and they had no maintenance. We’re now servicing the turbine aircraft based there,” he said.

On Hayward Field the operation services King Airs, Bonanzas and Barons and, as a satellite of the Mather operation, it also works on Pilatus, Cirrus and all single-engine Cessnas. The facility has 21,000 sq ft of hangar space, 4,000 sq ft dedicated to administration and two AOG trucks to support fractional and Part 135 operators in the bay area.

The Van Nuys operation is staffed primarily by former employees of Hawker Beechcraft who were displaced when the operation shut its doors last March. Cushing took over the 17,620-sq-ft Jet Direct facility that closed its doors during the same period.

Mather’s 61 employees include 31 technicians, seven inspectors, five parts specialists and five line crewmembers. Avionics service is covered by Duncan Aviation satellites located in the Hayward and Sacramento facilities and at Van Nuys elsewhere on the field.

The company can service lead-acid and nicad batteries, do minor and major inspection and repairs and major and minor sheet-metal repairs. Mather also holds service-center authorizations for the Honeywell TFE731, Williams engines and Raisbeck and Blackhawk mods.

“People come to us because of the service they get. If we say it’s going to cost $100 and be done on Friday, you can count on it and that it will be done right the first time,” Cushing said.

The company continues to be in growth mode. “I’m looking to expand north into Washington and Oregon,” he said. “I’d like to have an MRO in each state.” He is also pursuing OEM-authorized service center capacity for more aircraft and all locations.