FBO sees future in new hangar in Tulsa

Aircraft and Turbine Support expects a $3.5 million expansion to spur a 66-percent boost in revenue in just one year.

"All of our customers have been asking when we're moving forward," said Vice President Joe Cole. "This is their official notice - we are moving ahead. "

If weather holds, the 14-employee fixed-base operator at Tulsa International Airport, which in April finally secured a 20-year lease for its 20,000 square feet at 2701 N. Sheridan Road, will break ground at 2 p.m. Tuesday for construction of a 42,500-square-foot hangar.

"We're finally getting to do what we've been planning for two and a half years," said Cole, referring to the delays his firm encountered getting regulatory approval to move forward.

General contractor Command Construction of Jenks will raise the new roof using plans by the Tulsa architectural firm Kinslow Keith and Todd. The structure will offer 30,000 square feet of hangar space and 12,500 square feet of office and rental space.

"By late spring the new building should be finished," said Cole. "We should see an additional 10 to 12 employees hired right off the bat, raising that to 15 to 20 by the end of the year. "

If the hangar opens on time, Cole estimates Aircraft and Turbine Support will see its revenue climb from an anticipated $3 million this year to $5 million at the end of 2008.

"It'll be nice to have all these planes right in one place," said Cole, explaining how the firm's business had grown to the point ATS was outsourcing storage of its customer's aircraft.

"It was either build or die," said Cole. "We finally get to build now. We still have a few more hurdles but we're close enough now we can go ahead and break ground.

"It also quadrupled our debt," he added, "but you can't have one without the other. "

This addition represents the first, and most expensive, of the firm's initial expansion plan. In 2009 Cole expects ATS to complete this expansion by adding a new ramp and fuel farm, a project he estimates will cost $500,000.

When it started drawing up these plans two years ago, Cole said the company tried to design historic elements into the hanger, which will sit where the airport's original hangar four was built around 1927. But the time spent in planning, and the different changes required to meet airport standards, made including the historic elements cost-prohibitive.

Its current hanger was constructed for Citiservices in 1970.

Sitting at the corner of Apache and Sheridan, Cole said Aircraft and Turbine Support represents the gateway of business traffic from TIA to downtown and the rest of the community. He expects the new building to help provide a warmer welcome that could result into other business expansions down the road - including one of their own.

In 2006, when explaining to the Tulsa City Council the troubles his firm had encountered trying to get approval from the Tulsa Airport Authority, Cole had estimated this construction could boost his firm's revenue from $2 million to $9 million.

While he said the extra 14 months in delays had slowed their plans, ATS still expects long-term growth toward that level. In fact, the company has already started drafting plans.

"Within the next five years we'll be adding another hangar," he said. "We've already got it on the drawings for another hangar of similar size. "