Monday, December 19, 2011

Business as Usual: Alabama Senate leader sells aerospace company

Aerospace Coatings International is under new ownership.

The Oxford company, which employs 130 people, belonged to state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, until mid-October. Officials of the company say the business has been sold to the Wencor Group, a Utah.-based aircraft parts company. Neither Marsh nor officials of his former company would disclose the amount of the sale.

“I don’t think that’s something Wencor would like me to reveal,” Marsh said.

Marsh, president pro tem of the Alabama Senate, founded the company, which refurbishes worn or broken airplane parts, in the 1990s. Under Marsh’s direction, the company grew enough to branch out from its Oxford location, opening offices in Mexico, Germany and Malaysia. In an interview with The Star earlier this year, Marsh attributed the company’s rise in part to a desire on the part of airlines to cut costs in a tough business environment. Refurbished aircraft parts are typically less expensive than original parts.

Marsh said the company would likely do $14 million to $15 million in business this year. He said Wencor had been looking to expand into the growing parts-repair business and had the choice of starting from scratch or buying an already-established company.

While he didn’t name an amount, Marsh hinted that Wencor’s offer was big enough to make the sale appealing.

“The deal looked good,” he said.

That offer came from Greg Beason, CEO of Wencor, who has roots in the area. A resume Beason posted online lists him as a Jacksonville State University and Harvard Business School grad and a former vice president in Honeywell’s space and defense division. Marsh said Beason worked for Honeywell in Alabama.

Marsh said Greg Beason is not related to state Sen. Scott Beason, one of Marsh’s colleagues in the Senate. The Star’s attempts to reach Greg Beason were unsuccessful.

Marsh has also officially closed the doors on a home construction company he owned in Anniston, according to records at the Calhoun County Probate Office. Those records show that Marsh Home Construction was officially dissolved last week.

“We were building spec homes,” he said. “That operation hasn’t really been active for a couple of years.”

A spec home — think “speculative” — is a house built by a contractor with the hope that a buyer will snap it up. Marsh said the market for spec homes hasn’t been good.

Marsh said his sale of Aerospace Coatings wasn’t related to his duties as a member of the Senate.

“The Senate does take up most of my time,” he said. “But I had very competent management staff in place (at Aerospace Coatings), which made things much easier.”

Pat McCarty, the general manager of Aerospace Coatings, said he’s been with the company for 20 years. He said day-to-day changes to the company’s operations have been minimal.

“Nothing changes here,” he said. “It’s business as usual.”

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