Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Aircraft maintenance firm opens

11 Apr 2012 — Messenger-Inquirer BY: By Joy Campbell

Subhead: MidAmerica Jet, Tri-State Aero are partners

MidAmerica Jet of Owensboro and Tri-State Aero of Evansville have formed a partnership and established Tri-State Aero OWB at the MidAmerica Jet location in the airpark.

The business, already operational, is a full service aircraft maintenance facility. That means it is capable of doing "everything from oil changes to inspections and engine overhauls" as well as full avionics - all the electrical work on aircraft including installation of equipment, said Mark Kemper, director of maintenance.

The business has six employees in Owensboro and nine at Tri-State Aero's facility at the Evansville Regional Airport.

"Basically what we're doing is forming an alliance in which Tri-State Aero will do all the daily maintenance on MidAmerica's jets and planes," said Matt Hayden of MidAmerica Jet. "This is a very competitive industry, and our alliance will allow us to offer more expertise and services to our clients."

MidAmerica Jet's majority interest owners are the Hayden and Randy Hutchinson families. The families bought the company in 2006.

MidAmerica Jet will continue to have its charter business renting planes to the public and will continue to run the fixed base operator business at the airport through which it provides fueling services.

"This also allows us to go after more clients in the maintenance side of the business," Hayden said.

John Zeidler, Tri-State Aero's owner, said the partnership is an opportunity to expand the company's maintenance business and to offer good options for aircraft owners in this part of the tri-state.

"The Owensboro market has been vibrant in the face of a slow economy," Zeidler said. "You're doing great things at the state and local levels."

Tri-State Aero also specializes in working on the Phenom 100 and Beech jets and is a Cirrus Service Center.

MidAmerica operates the Embraer Phenom 100 jets. Last year, Hayden said the company's business plan includes exploring the establishment of an Embraer Service Center.

"This partnership helps us go in that direction," he said Tuesday. "It gives us more footing to get to that or to look at other brands to bring in. We have more mechanics, more avionics, a broader customer base giving us more opportunity to work into those relationships."

Three mechanics have been added in Owensboro since the deal was signed in January.

Mechanics' pay range, based on experience and certifications, is from $11 to $24 per hour plus benefits.

"Basically, we're bringing the capabilities to do all aircraft maintenance to Owensboro - something it hasn't had in five or six years," Kemper said. The company also has applied for a repair station certification with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tri-State Aero has been in business since 1963.

Both Hayden and Zeidler want to grow their private aviation business. They're anxious to explain how they can help industries to compete.

"An accountant looks at his company spending $100,000 on airline tickets and compares that to $125,000 it may spend for private travel," Zeidler said. "But that doesn't consider the soft costs such as being able to get back home in a day and attend my child's soccer game. Private travel can help to keep employees happy."

Local companies may need to get to places that are not direct flights out of Owensboro, and these partners can help executives figure out a turnkey solution for them, Zeidler said.

"Probably a lot of companies would qualify for private travel if they understand it better," Hayden said. "We want to understand their needs. The best way to find out if it's a good fit is to call. We can show them a lot of scenarios that would have a wide variety of costs."

Joy Campbell, 691-7299,