Phil Castle, The Business Times
West Star Aviation continues to rank as the top maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in the latest results of an annual survey conducted for a prominent trade publication.
The recognition comes as the company opens a new paint hangar in Grand Junction to handle larger corporate aircraft and promotes its services to an increasingly international clientele.
“It helps a lot,” said Dave Krogman, general manager of West Star Aviation in Grand Junction.
West Star Aviation ranked first for its maintenance, repair and overhaul operations in the latest results of a survey conducted for Professional Pilot.
West Star Aviation beat out Duncan, Citation Service Centers, Jet Aviation and Standard Aero, which Krogman described as some “pretty big competitors.”
The Preferences Regarding Aviation Services and Equipment (PRASE) winners are selected in a poll of magazine subscribers, which include aircraft owners, operators, passengers and flight crews.
West Star also ranked first in 2014, the first year for the category.
“We’re very honored to have achieved it again,” Krogman said.
Krogman attributed the ranking to the ongoing efforts of employees as well as an emphasis on developing and maintaining long-term relationships with customers. “It’s really all about customer service.”
The West Star Aviation operation at Grand Junction Regional Airport is the largest of five operated by a group that also runs facilities in Illinois, Missouri and South Carolina. In addition, West Star Aviation runs maintenance operations at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.
In Grand Junction, West Star offers a range of services that include everything from scheduled maintenance and repairs to upgrades, painting and complete overhauls. The company works on most types of business jets, including those manufactured by Citation, Challenger, Embraer, Falcon, Gulfstream, Hawker and Learjet.
Construction of a 45,000-square-foot paint hangar is scheduled for completion June 12, Krogman said. The hangar will accommodate two large aircraft at once, including the largest Gulfsteam and Global jets.
Krogman said work already has been booked for the new facility, which adds to what’s been increasing business overall for the past year. “The last 12 months have been really good.”
Because larger jets offer much greater ranges, West Star Aviation can attract international business — from companies around the world that can order maintenance, repairs and overhauls from facilities anywhere in the world, Krogman said. Consequently, he expects the proportion of business from international customers to increase.
The staff at West Star Aviation has grown to more than 390 as the new hangar nears completion, and additional employees could be hired over the next three to five years, Krogman said.
In addition to the economic benefits associated with one of the largest employers in the Grand Valley, West Star derives nearly all of its business from customers outside the region, in turn bringing new dollar into the local economy, he added.
But it all goes back to building and maintaining relationships with customers who trust the company to make sure their aircraft operate safely, Krogman said. “They put their lives in your hands.”