Friday, February 20, 2015

Quest Aircraft sold to Japanese firm

SANDPOINT — Quest Aircraft is being acquired by a Japanese firm with extensive experience in shipbuilding and transportation, the company announced on Tuesday.

“It’s the next step for us. It’s going to allow us to continue on the expansion path that we’re on,” said Quest spokeswoman Julie Stone.

The terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Setouchi Holdings’ acquisition of Quest will not affect the company’s plane manufacturing facility or displace any of the 184 employees at the plant.

“Everything that’s currently in place will not change,” said Stone.

Quest’s headquarters will remain in Sandpoint and the company’s leadership team will continue to oversee and manage the organization.

Setouchi Holdings is a member of Tsuneishi Group, a Hiroshima-based conglomerate with shipbuilding, ironwork, trading, engineering, shipping and other divisions.

Quest President and CEO Sam Hill said the company has positioned itself to be attractive to outside investors to help grow the company. Moreover, Hill said Tsuneishi Group and Quest are a “perfect fit.”

“They have extensive experience in manufacturing along with other global capabilities which will benefit us greatly,” Hill said in a statement. “In addition, their corporate philosophy is similar to ours in how they treat their customers and employees, and in how they view their place in the world.”

Quest announced last year that it had selected Setouchi as its Japan and southeast Asia dealer for the Kodiak, Quest’s signature, single-engine turboprop airplane. Tsuneishi’s involvement in the aviation industry began with Setouchi.

“We are looking to grow in that part of the world. We see a lot of potential in Asia and having connections over there will certainly help us,” Stone said.

Hill said that Tsuneishi is enthusiastic about the Kodiak, a versatile 10-seat aircraft designed for short terrestrial or amphibious takeoffs and landings.

“They believe strongly in the Kodiak and want to help us make Quest the leading manufacturer of single-engine turboprops in the world,” Hill said.

Quest delivered 30 Kodiaks in 2014, the most in the company’s history. It plans to up production in 2015.

There are 135 Kodiaks out in the field today, according to the company.

Stone said Tsuneishi’s resources and diversity will help Quest realize its goals and help elevate its stature in the global marketplace.

“We are part of an overall group that’s got a global footprint and it should only enhance our footprint in the world,” she said.

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