Aviation Technical Services (ATS) Friday announced that a group including President and CEO Matt Yerbic and several investors bought the MRO provider from Australian investment back Macquarie Group, setting the stage for the company to continue its growth and diversification strategies.
Investors in the deal, which closed yesterday, include Wells Fargo, NewSpring Capital and VIP aircraft completion center Greenpoint Technologies. Financial details were not made public.
Founded in 1970 as TRAMCO and operated as’s Aviation Technical Services from 1988 until Macquarie bought it in 2007, ATS provides airframe MRO, component and engineering services. Most of its work is for U.S.-registered aircraft, though the company also holds repair station certifications from European and Chinese regulators.
In an interview with Aviation Week MRO Americas 2013 in April, Yerbic said the company’s outlook sees significant growth in components and engineering services and moderate growth in aircraft maintenance.
A dip in airframe work demand led ATS to shed its largest hangar at its Everett, Wash. home base, leasing and then selling the space totwo years ago. As the industry bounced back, demand returned, leading ATS to open a facility in Moses Lake, Wash. earlier this year.
Yerbic explained that the uptick in MRO demand is a mix of light and medium airframe checks and extras like cabin upgrades and refurbishments. While much heavy check work is still being sent overseas because of the labor cost advantage, a mix of higher fuel prices and a narrowing of the labor cost gap are causing North American carriers to re-think sending out some of their lighter checks. The trend was a driver behind the Moses Lake expansion, said Yerbic, who estimates that about 65% of ATS’s revenue comes from airframe MRO.
Components generate about 25% of ATS’s revenue and have been growing steadily, Yerbic noted. A typical day might find 200 employees servicing some 700 units in the company’s component shop. Yerbic said that ATS could grow 15-20% in the next few years.
More big growth opportunity exists in engineering, Yerbic said. From customized repairs to patented products, ATS works with its airline and OEM partners to develop solutions for their challenges.
One example is ATS’s Cargo Door Armor product, developed in partnership with a formeremployee. The device attaches to cargo doors, which—unlike most cargo doors—swing inward. The door’s design leaves its exterior surface susceptible to damage from cargo being loaded on and off. Cargo Door Armor protects the door’s surface, cutting down on dings and dents that ultimately have to be repaired.
Yerbic said he believes ATS’s engineering revenues will double in the next few years as customers look for more customized programs that save money and increase useful lives.
Bigger picture, such diversity will help ATS weather the next inevitable dip in MRO demand.
“This business becomes more sensible when you can mix in other types of work,” Yerbic said at MRO Americas.
Today’s announcement seems to be a significant step down the road toward further growth and program development.
“We plan to grow, diversify our service and product offerings, create more jobs and drive the growth of the aerospace industry in Washington State and beyond,” Yerbic said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
VIP interiors Greenpoint and ATS have worked together since 1998. “Investing in ATS and its facilities guarantees our joint success to deliver quality, on-time completions,” says Jon Buccola, Greenpoint chairman and founder.