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As a dual-support group of companies that serves both the rotorcraft and fixed-wing communities, Precision Aviation Group (PAG) could have seen the helicopter industry downturn as an opportunity to favor the other side of its business.
Instead, the massively-successful maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) firm made large investments to expand its footprint in three helicopter-centric locations that are focused on the oil-and-gas sector: Brisbane, Australia; Lafayette, Louisiana; and a new facility in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
“The way we look at it is, the industry’s going to recover,” said David Mast, chief executive officer of PAG. “And it’s the perfect time to make investments in support of those specific locations in the rotary-wing space.”
PAG also recently expanded its facility in Vancouver, Canada, and Mast noted this commitment to growth is nothing new. The company has made these types of investments since it built its Vancouver facility in 2002 and made its first acquisition in 2004, buying Precision Avionics and Instruments from Dallas Airmotive/BBA Aviation.
“We believe in putting products and services where our customers are,” said Mast. “We strive to put those services there for our customers because it provides a cost-effective solution.”
With 11 facilities in eight locations in the United States, Canada, Australia and Brazil, PAG already has a global reach.
It serves the industry with timely, customer-focused service from experts in several business units within the group: Precision Accessories and Instruments (PAI), Precision Heliparts (PHP), Precision Heliparts Canada (PHP-C), Precision Accessories and Instruments Canada (PAI-C), Precision Heliparts Louisiana (PHP-LA), Precision Heliparts Australia (PHP-AU), Precision Accessories and Instruments Australia (PAI-AU), Precision Aviation Services (PAS), Precision Aero Technology Inc., and Precision Aviation Controls.
The company has continued to grow in 2017 with the addition of a stocking facility in Singapore that is being used as a distribution and supply chain center in support of operations in Brisbane.
“It got to a point where customers were saying, ‘Hey it would be great if you guys were local,'” said Ketan Desai, PAG’s vice president of strategic accounts and marketing.
“There’s not a 40, 50, 100-aircraft operator popping up every month. We’re just taking market share by providing local services to these mission-critical operators.”
Another PAG hallmark is its commitment to exceptional customer service, a core value that helps fuel its vision statement: “To be a better company … every day.”
“We’re not perfect, and we never claim to be,” said Mast. “But we’re going to give our customers great service every day no matter the economic conditions of the industry.
“We endeavor to give our customers an experience that they will appreciate and want to experience again, and we live that up every single day.”
Along with that commitment to exceptional service, PAG has four other core values that guide its approach to serving customers: passion, integrity, teamwork, and quality.
“I think those were our founding principles,” said Mast. “If you looked at our facilities, our infrastructure, our supply chain activity, the way we brand our boxes–all the little things we do, we want to be better.
“And having passion [and] integrity in what we do is very critical.”
MRO is basically a one- to two-percent growth business, he said. But PAG had a compound annual growth rate of about 16 percent from 1996 to 2016, a remarkable success driven by continuous improvement while staying true to those core values.
“You have to evolve,” said Mast. “And just as importantly, we also have to look at the future products and services that we’re going to bring to the market.”
When a new helicopter enters the market, PAG immediately procures illustrated parts catalogues and spare parts in support of those platforms, and goes to its customers and asks how it can help.
“It’s not one thing that we do to be a better company every day,” said Mast. “It’s a multitude of things, and it’s kind of just part of [what’s] built into our DNA.”
Another key differentiator is the fact PAG literally “touches aircraft,” a term the company uses to describe the ability to fly entire helicopters into its PAS facility in Peachtree City, Georgia, instead of separating components from the aircraft for repair.
“We’ve created a Rotorcraft Center of Excellence (RCOE) in the Southeast,” said Desai.
He noted the Peachtree City facility is a service center for Airbus, Safran Helicopter Engines (formerly Turbomeca), MD Helicopters and Robinson Helicopter Company, with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) certifications to complete a wide array of work.
The facility completes automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) modification and glass panel upgrades, and has the ability to offer full aircraft paint jobs.
“Nobody, from a competitor perspective, does what we do in its entirety,” said Desai. “But now you add touching aircraft, having mechanics on site, and also having the OEM certifications from Airbus and [Safran], that’s a significant value from a customer perspective.”
As for the future, both Mast and Desai envision more of the same–figuring out ways to create and build value into products and services that customers value, while differentiating PAG as more than a typical MRO and supply chain partner.
“Our plans are really, do what we’ve been doing,” said Desai. “Everything we do is focused around our customers. We listen to our customers, we have daily, weekly meetings with our customers to ensure that we’re doing what their expectations are and hopefully exceeding them.”
Mast quoted another company tagline that gets to the heart of what makes PAG unique.
“Others sell parts. We sell support,” he said. “And really, we are a solutions provider.”