NBAA Convention News

From Gum in the Carpet to New Interiors, Firms Share Bond

 - October 20, 2019, 1:00 PM
Air Capital Interiors employees work on an aircraft cabinetry project. (Photo: Air Capital Interiors)

Two seemingly disparate companies from Wichita are sharing a booth at this year’s NBAA-BACE at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but they’re not all that dissimilar. Appearance Group and Air Capital Interiors (ACI) are both in the business of aircraft cabin interiors. And their other common thread is ownership. Appearance Group co-owner, president, and CEO Matt Henry is one of three owners at ACI (Booth C9833).

Appearance Group is likely a familiar name to long-time NBAA attendees. The company, which is an FAA repair station, specializes in what Henry calls “asset preservation": cleaning and detailing exteriors and interiors of business jets, as well as paint restoration, paint sealant, leather refinishing and minor repair to leather cabin seats and other leather soft goods. Formed in the early 1990s, it was acquired in 1999 by Henry and his father, Don Henry. 

Today, the company is roughly four times the size of when the Henrys acquired it. “By the end of the year we’ll have over 250 employees in 16 states—all four time zones,” Matt Henry told AIN.

It counts such customers as Textron Aviation, Bombardier, StandardAero, Wheels Up, and NetJets. “They are strategic industry partners for us…and really, the overall goal is delivering a quality product to the end user,” Matt Henry said.

But over the years, Henry said, he has come to realize that cleaning and making minor repairs to an aircraft cabin isn’t enough. That’s where ACI comes in. 

“In a sense, it was born out of what more can we do in this industry,” Henry said. “When it comes to interior work, you need something like this. So the common synergy between the two entities is, we can go from taking the gum out of your carpet to building you a new interior; and everything in between.”

Founded in 2013, ACI is owned by CEO Henry, president Rod Wilson, and director of operations Terry Crumrine. 

Located next to Appearance Group’s main office in Wichita, ACI does aircraft cabinetry restoration, upholstered panel recovering, leather seat recovering, design and modification, and prototype development. Its customers are owners/operators as well as maintenance facilities that don’t have a full set of interior capabilities. It’s a Part 145 FAA repair station with “north of 50 aircraft” under its certificate, Wilson told AIN, including Cessna Citation 525, 560, 680, and 750 series business jets; Dassault Falcon 50, 900, and 2000 series business jets; Hawker 750, 800, 900, 1000 and 4000 business jets; and Beechcraft King Air 90, 200, and 300 series twin-turboprops. That list also includes some Gulfstream and Embraer models as well as certain Bombardier Globals, Challengers, and Learjets. “Since its inception, we have worked on 65 different [aircraft] types, from minor repairs to complete interior refurbishment,” Wilson added.

Last year, the company more than doubled its facility size from 9,500 sq ft to 20,000 sq ft, which “allowed us a little bit more room for the core business and also allows us to pursue a full line of upholstery, soft goods, seats, replacement of carpets, and curtain fabrication,” Wilson explained. 

The company employs more than 30 today, with cabinet makers averaging 20 years of experience in both production and aftermarket, Wilson said. That’s an important point, Henry said, because that experience gives them the “ability to take owners’ concepts of what they want and make it a reality.”

“They find a way to make it happen,” Wilson added. “We spend the majority of time figuring out how to say ‘yes’ [to our customers]. We’re small and able to focus on doing it the way our customer wants it done.”