NEP Sells West Star Aviation to The Sterling Group

March 02, 2022


Minneapolis, MN and West Palm Beach, FL, March 2, 2022 – Norwest Equity Partners (NEP), a leading middle market investment firm founded in 1961, has sold West Star Aviation (West Star or the Company), a provider of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services to the business aviation industry providing maintenance, modification, and other services to aviation customers, to The Sterling Group. The transaction closed on March 1, 2022.

West Star services business jets manufactured from every major aircraft OEM. The Company offers comprehensive capabilities that include repair and maintenance of airframes, engines and APUs, avionics installations and repair, major modifications, interior refurbishment, exterior paint, accessory services, and parts. West Star provides services from multiple mobile repair bases and satellite MRO facilities and supplies parts distribution and composite repair services through its Avant Aerospace and Dallas Aeronautical Services businesses, respectively.

“NEP was steadfast in their partnership with our business, supporting our collective vision and helping to identify multiple ways in which our business could grow. NEP understood and shared our focus on enhancing our great culture and providing excellent customer service. The combination of NEP’s capital, strategic insight, and extensive resources, which included among others, Operating Partner Mike Gerend, guided us to a place where we can take it to the next level with the Sterling team,” stated Jim Rankin, West Star Aviation CEO.

Voted as the #1 Preferred MRO for eight consecutive years from 2014-2021 in Professional Pilot’s annual PRASE Survey, West Star provides MRO services at each of its four primary locations in East Alton, IL; Grand Junction, CO; Chattanooga, TN; and Perryville, MO. In February 2022, each of its locations received the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Diamond Award of Excellence – the highest honor in the aircraft maintenance industry – for completing Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) specialized-training pertaining to aviation maintenance, safety, and FAA rules. These achievements showcase West Star’s expertise and focus on providing best-in-class service.

Todd Solow, NEP Partner, shared, “It has been very rewarding to work with Jim, the previous founders, and the entire management team. They’ve built a great culture, and the team knows how to work together to execute on growth initiatives. With Jim’s strategic leadership, the Company achieved outstanding growth across multiple fronts, including scaling a one-stop state-of-the-art evergreen location in Chattanooga, creating West Star’s third major onsite location for MRO services in the country. The entire NEP team wishes West Star well, especially as the Company celebrates its 75th anniversary. We know West Star is in great hands for future success with Sterling.”

Over the course of NEP’s six-year investment period, West Star achieved sustainable growth across several fronts, including 92% revenue growth, 90% EBITDA growth, and doubling of employee headcount. Five add-on acquisitions helped supplement organic growth initiatives, expanding both geographic footprint and service offerings for customers. Completed add-ons included: FLITE Components, MSP Aero, Autumn Aviation, Avant Aerospace, and Dallas Aeronautical Services.

Harris Williams advised West Star on the sale transaction; Winston & Strawn served as lead legal advisor.

Founded in 1961, Norwest Equity Partners (NEP) is a leading middle market investment firm with offices in Minneapolis, MN, and West Palm Beach, FL. NEP invests equity capital in companies that are leaders in their industry with a proven business model which have demonstrated the ability to generate profits. NEP has extensive experience with management buyouts, recapitalizations, and growth financings, including working with founder and family-owned companies. Targeted equity investment size range for each transaction is $30 MM-$250+ MM and desired industries for investment opportunities include agriculture, business services, consumer, distribution, industrials, energy, and healthcare.​​​​​​​ NEP is currently investing NEP X, a $1.6 B fund.

NEP Media Contact
Heather Goodwin
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Norwest Equity Partners
612 215 1676
hgoodwin@nep.com