Norwest Equity Partners Invests in Business Aviation MRO Leader West Star Aviation
May 02, 2016
Minneapolis, Minnesota – Norwest Equity Partners (“NEP”), a leading middle market investment firm founded in 1961, has made a significant investment in West Star Aviation (“West Star” or the “Company”), one of the world’s largest and fastest growing independent providers of maintenance, repair and overhaul (“MRO”) and related support services to the business aviation industry. The transaction closed on April 28, 2016; financial terms were not disclosed.
West Star prides itself on a customer-first business model that meets a comprehensive need for a highly discerning and global customer base. Specializing in airframe repair and maintenance, landing gear modifications and overhauls, avionics upgrades and installation, interior refurbishment, paint, and spare part sales, West Star offers an extremely responsive turnaround time and a unique one-stop shop approach, both of which help to minimize aircraft downtime and the need to fly to multiple destinations for different services for business jet owners.
The West Star brand extends back to 1952 when the original company, Monarch Aviation, was founded at Walker Field, in Grand Junction, Colorado. The company quickly expanded to a top-rated business aircraft maintenance and refurbishment platform. Headquartered in East Alton, Illinois, West Star has additional, strategically-located key operating locations in; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Chattanooga, Tennessee along with additional satellite operations at various locations throughout the Midwest. With a global reputation for exceptional service and quality, West Star provides services to business jets manufactured by every major aircraft OEM, including Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, and Gulfstream, to name a few.
West Star is an attractive investment opportunity for NEP for a variety of reasons, including the current attractive market dynamics for both newer in-warranty and older, out-of-warranty aircraft; West Star’s strong customer value proposition and sustainable competitive advantage driven by reputation, scale, and one-stop-shop capabilities; the Company’s industry-leading management team and a diverse set of growth opportunities.
Tim DeVries, NEP Managing General Partner, stated, “West Star’s solid business model and industry-leading management team have helped to establish extremely high barriers to entry within the business aviation market. There have been no new entrants into the market at the scale and capability of West Star in the last decade that didn’t happen through consolidation or acquisition. West Star has done a great job to earn a global reputation as a highly-valued, ‘go-to’ MRO services provider, and we’re going to work hard to leverage their existing growth momentum along with our combined NEP capital and resources to further build and grow the Company.”
West Star is an industry-leading brand and the #1 ranked MRO services provider (2014, 2015 and 2016 Professional Pilot Magazine PRASE Survey) led by a deep group of aviation experts with over 200 years of collective experience. Robert Rasberry, West Star CEO, stated, “On behalf of the entire West Star team, we are confident that our new partnership with NEP will help us successfully achieve our next level of growth. In partnership with NEP, our operating philosophy will remain grounded in our strong technical expertise, experienced employees, attention to detail, and a constant focus on customer service and satisfaction.”
Todd Solow, NEP Partner, shared, “From expanding service capabilities and facilities to key contracts and strategic growth initiatives, West Star is well-positioned for continued success. The right team is also in place to help lead the way.”
Harris Williams advised West Star on the transaction; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP provided legal services for NEP; and Antares Capital, Ally Corporate Finance, and Norwest Mezzanine Partners provided financing.