Premier Turbines a hot buy for Signature parent

 - October 12, 2007, 5:23 AM

As the first steps in its strategic plan to concentrate Sabreliner’s future growth on airframe maintenance, modification and completions, the St. Louis-based company in late April sold its major engine repair and overhaul subsidiary Premier Turbines to BBA Aviation Services Group, where it will be managed by subsidiary Dallas Airmotive.

On May 15, less than a month later, BBA reached an agreement with Sabreliner to buy its Midcoast FBO at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The FBO will become a part of BBA’s Signature Flight Support chain. BBA said it was paying Sabreliner $9.5 million for the FBO. The Midcoast acquisition (not including its engine line-service operations) will give BBA its first Signature FBO in the St. Louis area.
“We plan to expand in two ways,” said Sabreliner chairman and CEO Holmes Lamoreux. “First, with innovative programs that generate more business from current customers and, second, by attracting new customers.” The company had no details of any specific new programs.

In concentrating its efforts on the airframe, Sabreliner returns somewhat to its roots. In 1983, about four years after the Sabreliner business jet production line shut down, Sabreliner Corp. bought the division from Rockwell to provide support to the hundreds of Sabreliner owners around the world. A few years later it started expanding its airframe maintenance and modification offerings to other business jet models.

Premier Turbines was a byproduct of Sabreliner’s purchase in 1992 of the Neosho, Mo.-based engine operations of Teledyne. Four years later Sabreliner acquired the TFE731 heavy maintenance and CZI license for the Neosho facility and renamed engine services at all its locations Premier Turbines. The company also services a wide variety of helicopter engines.

Sabreliner hasn’t retreated from the engine service market entirely. The company is retaining its Midcoast engine line-service operations at Perryville, Mo., as well as the former Premier Turbines accessories and components operation in Independence, Kan.

“In support of our customers, we have entered an agreement with Dallas Airmotive to perform engine inspection, overhaul and repair services for most aircraft served by [our subsidiary] Midcoast,” said Sabreliner v-p of corporate aviation marketing and corporate communications Jack Vaughn. “This allows us to offer seamless airframe and engine services to our Midcoast customers. The agreement includes complete TFE731 support, including CZI and heavy maintenance.”

Name, Staff To Be Retained
Acquiring Premier Turbines expands BBA’s presence in the business jet engine service market that started with the company’s acquisition several years ago of the famed Airwork of Millville, N.J. Then, in relatively quick succession, BBA bought Aviation Services Group, based in Orlando, Fla. and now a division of the UK’s BBA Group along with Dallas Airmotive, ASIG (serving the airline market), Signature Flight Support, International Turbine Service, Barrett Turbine Engine, H+S Aviation and Precision Avionics and Instruments.

According to BBA Aviation Services Group v-p of marketing Gary Boekenkamp, the company doesn’t plan any changes to the name, staff or location of Premier Turbines. “We are going to retain the Premier Turbines brand,” he told AIN. “From an administrative and management standpoint, it will report to Dallas Airmotive. It has a good reputation in the marketplace, and that’s what attracted us to the company. We’ve looked at the management group and feel very positive about it.”

Jim Donlan, president and CEO of Dallas Airmotive, said, “Premier Turbines provides an excellent strategic fit to our current engine overhaul and repair portfolio, especially our fast-growing TFE731 business. Premier is well known for providing exceptional quality and customer service.”

“We welcome the Premier Turbines employees to BBA Aviation,” said Bruce Van Allen, president and CEO for BBA Aviation Services Group. “The acquisition will position Dallas Airmotive to significantly extend the scope of services it provides to customers throughout the world.”

Watch for more acquisitions by BBA. “We are looking to expand our core business,” Boekenkamp said. “Our focus is on acquiring businesses that make sense for us strategically.”