NBAA Convention News

Elliott Aviation Weathers Recession and Is Poised for Growth

 - October 10, 2011, 2:20 AM
Karl Ott, Hawker team leader at Elliott Aviation’s Moline, Ill. headquarters, performs routine maintenance on a Hawker 800.

While celebrating its 75th year at NBAA ’11, Elliott Aviation is also celebrating an end to the longest and deepest recession in the industry’s history and the beginning of new opportunities.

According to chairman and CEO Wynn Elliott, the company (Booth No. C11218) anticipated the recession, reducing its sizeable parts inventory and selling off most of its aircraft inventory. “We entered the economic decline in the best cash position in the company’s history. We rode out the recession in really good shape, and came out prepared for opportunities,” he said. Among those opportunities was aircraft sales. With aircraft traditionally making up one third of the Moline, Ill.-based company’s business, Elliott was pleased to see this market segment become extremely active in recent months. “There are a lot of people buying airplanes, if they’re priced right,” he noted, “and Elliott is now selling out of inventory and brokerage.” Elliott Aviation brought a Citation Bravo and Beechjet to sell at the static display here in Las Vegas.

Other opportunities cited by Elliott include an expansion of its maintenance business and moving into servicing larger aircraft in the midsize category. The company is now an authorized Hawker Beechcraft service center and is aggressively courting contracts for work on Hawker 800s and 900s.

Elliott has also begun offering the Garmin G1000 avionics suite as an upgrade for European Union-registered Beech King Airs. It has already installed and certified a G1000 package in the King Air B200 owned by Trond Harald Klavness, president and CEO of the Torvald Klavness Group of Norway. Earlier in the year, Elliott announced G1000 retrofits for the Super King Air 300 and 350 models, and FAA recently granted certification for the installation. A King Air 350 with the Elliott-installed Garmin G1000 is on display at the company’s NBAA static display site.

To accommodate the move into midsize jet maintenance and to keep up with an expanding backlog, the company is expanding its Moline footprint, said Elliott. The avionics backlog, he added, is already at six months and the overall activity pipeline is growing.

Up and running as of July is a new accessory repair and overhaul shop on the Moline campus. And there is sufficient growth at the company, said Elliott with a chuckle, “that we immediately became a customer to meet our own needs.”

All this increased activity has also translated to an “aggressive recruiting and hiring program that includes in particular experienced technicians,” Elliott said. “The company has been in a hiring mode for about six months and we will be hiring a good number of people over the next six to twelve months.”

Among the more recent hires are three sales executives Elliott described as “good moves.” Gregory Sahr was hired as v-p of sales, marketing and business development, reporting directly to Wynn Elliott. Andrew Camp, after a short hiatus, rejoined Elliot as a regional sales manager based in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Kevin Breeden was hired as regional sale manager for the central U.S.

Elliott’s boss is also happy with the ISO 9001 and AS9100 certification granted to its headquarters facility at Quad City International Airport. Particularly gratifying, he said, is the fact that it required only six months for ISO 9001 approval, “which tells me we had been operating pretty much at that level even before certification.”

Looking at an industry recovery, Elliott noted that 2010 was the third or fourth best year in the company’s 75-year history, and he projected that 2011 will be another good year. But he dances around the term “recovery,” preferring to describe it at this point as more of an increase in opportunities. Elliott Aviation has endured a lot of up and down cycles, he explained, and this time the cycle has been longer and deeper and the recovery isn’t going to be fast or steady, he said, “but it will have opportunities for those who are ready.”

Elliott sees this NBAA convention as one of those opportunities­–in particular, it allows the company to lift veil over its main Moline facility and its satellite locations in Des Moines, Minneapolis and Omaha that have been perceived as a bit of a well-kept industry secret. “We’re bringing the full campus to NBAA,” he said, “complete with a virtual tour of our Moline capabilities.”