Camp Adds To Growth With Avtrak Maintenance-Tracking Acquisition

 - August 3, 2012, 1:55 AM
Avtrak cofounders Glenn (left) and Joe Hertzler sold their maintenance tracking company to Camp Systems International.

Camp Systems International expanded its share in the business aviation maintenance-tracking market by purchasing Avtrak on July 9. In early May, Camp was sold by private equity firm Warburg Pincus to another private equity company, GTCR (owner of the Landmark Aviation FBO chain), for a reported $600 million to $700 million. Camp CEO Ken Gray said that he had indicated an interest in buying Avtrak to co-founders Joe and Glenn Hertzler. He added, “The Hertzler brothers made a decision for personal reasons that it was time to exit, and we were a logical acquirer.” Camp will continue to run Avtrak as a separate maintenance-tracking business.

Camp, which purchased Cessna’s Cescom maintenance-tracking system for $50 million in 2009, still has less than 50 percent market share in the turbine-powered business aircraft market after adding Avtrak, according to Gray. Camp had earlier bought maintenance tracking services from Hawker Beechcraft and Bombardier. “There are a lot of aircraft that Avtrak and Camp do not service,” he said, and thus opportunities to add to that market share. Camp offers maintenance tracking services for most types of business aircraft and specializes in maintenance tracking aided by full-service analysts, while Avtrak has been targeted more at the type of customer that doesn’t use an analyst. “We both have the market fairly well covered from a model perspective,” he said. “We think there is an opportunity to expand into the market that doesn’t use analyst service. Avtrak is a good product and a respected brand name. We would not have bought if we had no intention to continue it.”

More Opportunity for Growth

For future growth, Camp is building its engine condition trend monitoring (ECTM) business, which it bought from Pratt & Whitney Canada in late 2010. “That business is a strong growth opportunity for Camp,” Gray said. “Particularly in the turboprop market we see a lot of growth. We are the exclusive provider for Pratt & Whitney Canada, and we think that between Avtrak, what Camp does and ECTM we can address 100 percent of the market.”

Camp did not purchase Avtrak’s software development business, which provides the software that runs Gulfstream’s maintenance tracking system. According to Joe Hertzler, that business has been renamed as Teton Aviation Group. “We will keep the Gulfstream support,” he explained. “That’s our go-forward business. What we intend to do is focus on and opportunities that could present themselves in the future.” Joe Hertzler said he will head Teton Aviation Group.

Avtrak’s maintenance-tracking business employed 63 people and had 1,900 customer aircraft using the service, according to Joe Hertzler. “Over the years we had a few informal conversations with Ken [Gray] about the potential [of selling]. From my point of view, this looked like a good opportunity because Ken had approached me with the idea of maintaining the Avtrak brand, similar to the way [Camp] maintained Cescom when it bought that product. That made the opportunity for Avtrak more favorable. I wasn’t one who was a proponent of selling our business to Camp and watching our product die.” Meanwhile, Joe Hertzler said in mid-July, “I’m going fishing and will be in the mountains in Idaho where cellphones don’t work and fish have a really good way of getting on the hook.”

Gray said that some consolidation will occur at Avtrak’s and Camp’s Wichita offices. “We made job offers to all the analysts and support people,” Gray said.