There's Change in the Wind

Landmark is expected to leverage its financial backing by The Carlyle Group to facilitate more acquisitions.

At Signature, Van Allen says there may be an opportunity to market administrative or accounting services to other fixed base operations. The company is also looking at an array of airport services, such as janitorial. Says Van Allen, “We have to ask, what else can we do at that airport? It’s a subject that’s been getting air time with the board recently.”

At Million Air, Woolsey and company have contracted with the Albany International Airport to provide FBO and airline services, while the airport authority maintains the actual leasehold. Woolsey sees more opportunity for companies such as his to export their FBO operations expertise via contracts with airports or with other fixed base operators. (For more, see “Inside the Industry,” page 30.)

Signature: A Second Tier FBO Market?
At this NBAA, Signature announced the acquisition of three more FBOs, at Long Beach, Van Nuys, and La Quinta, CA. That brings its worldwide total of fixed base operations to 66, with 19 in Europe. According to Van Allen, the FBO chain expects to remain competitive in the U.S. acquisition market, but BBA Group is heightening its focus on the Asian and African markets.

A new opportunity the company is exploring in the U.S. market, says Van Allen, is a “strategy of a second tier. There are emerging markets in the U.S. and they don’t have to be big locations. Years ago, we might have looked at it as a [fuel] volume issue, but that’s not necessarily so anymore.”

Van Allen says there may be a second tier model, and it could involve merely buying out an existing FBO and leaving it in place as is. Perhaps it could evolve into a loose federation of FBOs, he says, that would benefit from shared administrative and financial services. “So, we could possibly acquire an FBO and leave it alone in the marketplace,” he says.

Landmark’s Coming Out Party
The newest player among major exhibiting companies on the NBAA trade show floor was Landmark Aviation — the new brand for the FBO/maintenance network of Garrett/Piedmont Hawthorne/Associated. The new name will be placed at all Landmark locations, with the exception of the Dallas-based Associated Air Center, a major modifications center whose brand is already well entrenched internationally, say officials.

Headquartered in Tempe, AZ, Landmark is expected to leverage its financial backing by The Carlyle Group to facilitate more acquisitions in the aviation services sector, according to officials.

Landmark president Shawn Vick says his company is bullish about corporate aviation, with some estimates putting the number of new bizjets at 8,300 over the next ten years. Vick expects Landmark to grow from an $800 million company today to a $1 billion firm within three years.

Landmark is already a well-diversified aviation company, with FBOs, maintenance and modification centers, charter, and aircraft sales among its businesses. According to Vick, no particular area will be emphasized as the company grows. He expects that the Landmark’s ability to move quickly on acquisitions should help facilitate its growth.

According to vice chairman Harton, while 70-80 percent of Landmark’s business today is east of the Mississippi River, the company is looking at growth in the Western U.S. to complement its large FBO in Vancouver.

Harton echoes what Van Allen, Woolsey, and others say about keeping a close watch on overall corporate earnings, which they see as a critical benchmark in projecting activity levels in the years to come.

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