As an established global supplier of aircraft refueling equipment, tanker equipment and terminal loading systems abroad, Liquip International looked to the North American aviation industry as a major growth opportunity. With its recent acquisition in North America of Beta Fluid Systems, the company has maneuvered itself into the military sector and is vying for a stake in commercial aviation with an offering of its global insight.
A land of GSE opportunity
Formed in 1968, the Australia-based company has specialized in tanker equipment for fuels and associated chemicals. It then formed its aviation division in the mid-80s, servicing major oil companies in Australia, Asia and the Middle East.
Viewing the North American region as a market of special potential, Liquip has made a concentrated effort to expand its presence. “The North American market is a key strategic one for most companies in our line of business, from both a scope and scale perspective ... it gives us the economies of scale we need to ensure we remain competitive on a global scale, and exposes us to a diverse range of operational needs, enabling us to continue broadening our product offering,” says Jeff Borg, president of US operations at Liquip International, based out of North Carolina.
In 2006, Liquip acquired Beta Fluid Systems, a manufacturer of refueling equipment for the military. The acquisition laid the groundwork for the company’s ambitions in the North American market, offering an opportunity for manufacturing within the US. “The core competencies that this acquisition brought us within the defense sector, and the ability to leverage our global experience in the US commercial sector made this a very important and successful acquisition,” Borg says.
“Beta is a well established business, with an excellent reputation in the military field,” Borg says, “and an excellent platform for growth into the commercial aviation sector. The synergies between Liquip and Beta were perfect.” The company now has manufacturing sites in North Carolina, as well as multiple manufacturing sites in Australia.
With its manufacturing operation in the US, Liquip has expanded within the military sector and increased capacity. “Historically our (Beta) focus in USA has been military, so we’re a big military supplier and our operations have been geared accordingly,” says Frank Montalvo, director of sales and marketing for US operations, who recently joined Liquip from the Liquid Controls Group. “Now in addition to that, we’re also serving the major airlines and service providers in the US and we’re really growing our commercial aviation offerings.”
Included in its aviation product base are filtration equipment, hydrant carts and aircraft refueling tankers. As a company with a global perspective, Borg says the Liquip product offering is unique to the North American market. “We are introducing positive product enhancements in terms of performance, reliability, ergonomics and safety. Many of the reliability and safety features originate from our global experience in manufacturing refueling equipment for harsh and remote operating conditions in the middle east, Australia and remote pacific islands where equipment survives in harsh conditions and needs to exist with minimal support,” he says.
To continue servicing the defense sector while expanding into commercial refuelling equipment, Borg says the company has increased the level of “automization” within its products. “What we’ve done is attempt to remove the human element as much as possible. From a human factors engineering point of view, we don’t want the operator to need to memorize a certain complicated sequence of operations to be able to operate the vehicle, so we’ve brought a lot of automation to the process of refueling,” he says.
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