StandardAero, a major maintenance, repair and overhaul specialist, is having a good year and, Marc Drobny, the new president of business aviation, says it is the result of a fresh approach he describes as “bigger, better and bolder.”

“It summarizes what’s happening at StandardAero,” he explained recently. And what’s happening includes recognition of a surging economy accompanied by growing market demand, global company expansion through acquisitions, and a focus on the latest technology.

The 44-year-old Drobny, who took over his current post in April this year, credited the growth at StandardAero as in no small way due to a strong U.S. economy. Further, he was quick to recognize a European economy that beat expectations in 2017 to reach a 10-year growth peak of 2.4% – a pattern that is expected to remain strong through 2018, according to the European Commission’s spring report issued in 2018.

Much of the credit for the Scottsdale, Arizona-based MRO’s double-digit growth in the last several years is also the result of numerous acquisitions. In just the past year, for example, the company has added to its ranks: Jet Aviation Specialists, a Miami-based MRO center focused on turbine engine components; PAS Technologies, a multi-site MRO component repair company; Kelly Air Center (equipment and facilities) in San Antonio; and Vector Aerospace, of Toronto, specializing in MRO work on fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

“Acquisitions, along with the company’s core business and other areas of growth, are driving our revenues above $3 billion for the first time in company history,” said Drobny. He also noted that there are ongoing negotiations for another half-dozen additional acquisitions.

Growth in pre-owned aircraft sales is a particular driving force in StandardAero’s core business. “The total number of airplanes flying increases year over year, even though new aircraft sales might be lower today than 10 years ago,” Drobny pointed out. “It’s apparent that the market has become very pre-owned-aircraft friendly with many buyers seeking to move up from the midsize category, and in some cases, move down from a large-cabin jet to a super midsize that’s more mission-friendly.”

Before a pre-owned aircraft is sold, the owner will frequently bring it into an MRO center for a cabin facelift and avionics and cabin electronics upgrade, all of which will enhance the resale price. And after a pre-owned aircraft is sold, the new owner will frequently retain an MRO for additional work, and occasionally have the airplane stripped down for what amounts to a green cabin completion.

With this in mind, StandardAero has also become a leader in cabin refurbishment; in particular in connectivity solutions, said Drobny.

“StandardAero is also part of an expanding global marketplace,” he added. “We’re on every continent but Antarctica.”

One of the company’s largest and most capable multi-function shops outside the U.S. is Fleetlands, near Portsmouth on the English Channel. A key element in the business aviation operation there is “an enormous engines shop” providing services for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW300 and Honeywell’s TFE731 turbofan.

On the other side of the pond, on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, is Summerside, a StandardAero center of excellence. “We work on just about every variant of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT-6 turboprop engine line,” said Drobny.

One of the more recent StandardAero expansions is in Cincinnati, where a new, 206,000-sq.-ft. repair facility was opened on Sept. 18. The site is immediately adjacent to the already existing, 236,000-sq.-ft. component repair center.

Elsewhere, the company is increasing shop capacity by a total of 60,000 sq. ft. at its facilities in Miami and Hillsboro, Ohio. The overall investment will exceed $20 million in construction and capital equipment when completed.

In Augusta, Georgia, the StandardAero facility is about a year and a half ahead of schedule in terms of maintenance and overhaul work on Honeywell’s HTF7000 turbofan.

Asked if there is a downside to StandardAero’s current success, Drobny thought briefly and suggested that in addition to the pilot shortage that threatens the aviation industry worldwide, “A shortage of technicians is what’s affecting our business the most, and in response we’re hiring in virtually every business unit.”

With the shortage in technicians in mind, StandardAero has established partnerships with a number of airframe and powerplant schools and provides funding to assist with acquisition of an A&P license. “Worldwide, we have more than 200 open positions and we’re constantly adding more.”

“StandardAero has gone from 14 facilities to 37 just since January 2017, and from 3,500 employees in 2014 to a little more than 6,000 today,” Drobny said in summing up. “And we are now a $3-billion-a-year company, compared with annual revenue of $1.7 billion in 2014.”