Sovam Changes Hands, Eyes Market Growth

Feb. 14, 2018
With new leadership in place, the France-based GSE manufacturer is hopeful its product line and rental options will allow the company to build its reputation worldwide.

Under new ownership, officials at Sovam Airport Equipment are looking to increase the company’s exposure in the ground support arena, and the French GSE manufacturer began that process with a successful exhibition at inter airport Europe 2017 this past October in Munich, Germany.

Tim Rane, the company’s new president and CEO, purchased Sovam in July, 2017. With Sovam having difficulties providing enough working capital to support operations, the company went into administration and Rane was asked to help find a buyer for the manufacturer. However, he soon realized Sovam would be a good way to enhance his GSE rental company, airGSE. So less than two months later he purchased Sovam.

“In six weeks, we assembled a team, did the due diligence and made the acquisition,” recalls Rane, who has more than 25 years of experience in the GSE market.

Following the purchase, Rane says the team put a 100-day business plan in place to ensure there were no mistakes made during the due diligence portion of the process. He said it was important to evaluate the stock, get manufacturing operations running smoothly and prepare to exhibit at inter airport Europe.

They also visited major customers to introduce the key people appointed to the corporate management team, manufacturing group and sales force.

Sovam offers a large range of GSE, including pushbacks, tractors, water and lav trucks, passenger stairs, catering trucks, belt loaders and cargo loaders, among others.

The company also provides a line of GSE parts to support its products in addition to a range of military vehicles. What’s more, following the recent acquisition, Sovam’s equipment can now be rented through airGSE.

Sovam received positive feedback from its customers at inter airport Europe, according to Rane.

“It went way better than I anticipated it would do,” he says. “People knew about Sovam getting into financial trouble, but they didn’t realize that we would be able to come back in such a way and have a really good exhibition.”

The company displayed three new pieces of equipment during the trade show, including the K32 Kinectic cargo tractor as well as a pushback tractor suited for handling a Boeing 737 and a dual platform, 3.5-ton container loader.

Following the show, Rane is optimistic about the direction the company is moving. He notes Sovam has 10,000 pieces of GSE in the field, primarily serving French-speaking markets. However, he says the company lacks a “famous” name in many parts of the world.

“It's a challenge to do what we're doing, but we're really excited about the prospect,” Rane says. “Sovam has got a long history and it's an important thing for us to keep them going.”