The New Chain In Town
By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director
Trajen has kept a low profile building an FBO network; now comes the big push HAYWARD, CA - In 1992, Trajen CEO John W. Clanton, 41, a certified public accountant by trade, entered the aviation services arena with a fueling contract at the Alameda Naval Air Station in California. Other government services contracts followed before Trajen opened its first fixed base operation at the retired Mather AFB in Sacramento. The Trajen FBO network has continued to expand, albeit quietly, and today has 14 locations along with seven military contracts. With a critical mass now established, Clanton reports that the time has come to begin a marketing push to give the Trajen name a much higher profile. At the same time, acquisitions remain a high priority.Gary Briggs is charged with developing properties in the Trajen FBO chain.
In line with the new
emphasis on marketing, Clanton has brought on board a full time marketing
person and a national advertising campaign is being kicked off in industry
trade publications. At the same time, direct mail and personal sales contacts
will increase, says Clanton, as the Trajen chain works at becoming more
visible to corporate aircraft users.
Says Clanton, "We've really just kicked off the marketing effort. Our target was February 1st, to coincide with the Super Bowl and the fact that we have the Houston [Bush Intercon-tinental] facility."
The acquisition of the Houston facility, the former Qualitron Aero, a well-known fixed based operation within the industry, is indicative of the quiet acquisition approach Clanton preferred in the late 1990s, a time which he describes as a "sellers' market" in the FBO business.
The market has settled down, says Clanton, which makes growth through buyouts still an attractive option. At one time, he relates, he had considered building a chain by buying one; however, single FBO acquisitions are today the most likely scenario, he says.
"There had been some hype built into the market," says Clanton, "but it's probably at an equilibrium today. Fair prices are being paid."
In particular, he says, the Eastern and Southwestern portions of the U.S. are key targets at present as the Trajen chain seeks to create a more nationwide presence. There are no plans currently to expand beyond the U.S. borders, according to Clanton.
He adds, "Geography doesn't play as big a role as do the basic business practices of a location. From the beginning, our company has managed remote locations." Central to the company's philosophy is a consistent level of management and service training that brings about a consistent level of service at each of its locations, he says.
- Gustavus (GST)
- Juneau (JNU)
- Ketchikan (KTN)
- Sitka (SIT)
- Tucson (TUS)
- Hayward (HWD)
- Sacramento (MHR)
- Greeley (GXY)
- Austin (AUS)
- Fort Worth (FTW)
- Houston (IAH)
- San Antonio (SKF)
- Stafford (RMN)
- Casper (CPR)
Comments Gary Briggs, who is charged with helping develop FBO locations after acquisition and who is based at the Hayward location, "We look at a lot more potential opportunities than we ever get interested in giving quotes on. Each situation is unique; it's not like looking at a chain of Blockbuster video stores where they're all similar."
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