Sunday, May 26, 2013

Aviation company expanding at St Louis Regional Airport (KALN), Alton/St Louis, Illinois

Posted: Sunday, May 26, 2013 10:00 am

The Telegraph

EAST ALTON - A fixed-base operator at St. Louis Regional Airport is planning an expansion to its facility, where the firm will add a wood shop and accessory repair shop, bringing 34 new jobs.

The expansion with bring West Star Aviation's operation from 250,000 square feet up to 317,300 square feet. Employment will grow from 266 to 300.

West Star supplies maintenance, painting, remodeling, fuel and other supplies to corporate and private aircraft from across the country. The company refurbishes interiors and repairs aircraft, including radios and avionics.

The expansion will include a wood shop, a spokeswoman said. The existing shop, which builds cabinets and other interior niceties, is near capacity, she said.

The accessory repair shop will address everything from wheels to starters.

The company will break ground for the expansion to its existing building in the third quarter of this year. The company still is in the process of choosing a contractor.

Airport Manager Dave Miller said the St. Louis Regional Airport Authority has been in negotiations with West Star over land leases and purchases.

The company said it has experienced solid growth, which has led to the expansion plans.

"While the industry as a whole continues to rebound from the largest aviation downturn since the Great Depression, West Star is outperforming the industry," Chief Executive Officer Robert Rasberry said.

He said the firm is spending a total of $15 million on its facilities here and in Grand Junction, Colo., and Columbia, S.C. The company declined to give the amount to be spent in each location.

"At West Star Aviation, we believe in doing the right thing, whatever the cost," Rasberry said. "We're essentially investing in our customers, growing strategically in those areas that allow us to do more for them in an extremely efficient manner."

West Star's location in Chesterfield, Mo., will continue to provide avionics and line service, such as fuel and supplies, but other services will move to St. Louis Regional.

The authorized service center designation for King Air, Premier and Hawker will transfer to St. Louis Regional.

"All Beechcraft aircraft operators will now have complete one-stop convenience," Rasberry said.

The company plans to open a new paint facility in the summer of 2014 in Grand Junction.

"This further enhances West Star Grand Junction's stature as one of the nation's premier paint facilities," Rasberry said.

Also at Grand Junction, a maintenance facility and shop will be added this year. Another 10,000 square feet will be added to the Columbia operation.


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