West Star Aviation planning to start service center in South Carolina

Alton, Ill.-based West Star Aviation announced Monday it will be building an eastern U.S. facility similar to, and from a financial perspective a satellite of, its Grand Junction Regional Airport location.

Several of Grand Junction’s West Star employees in the areas of human resources to information technology will begin to be sent to Lexington County, S.C. for training purposes, said Rick Brainard,

Grand Junction-based vice president of sales of all West Star Aviation locations.
West Star is a service and refurbishing company for business aircraft, according to the company’s Web site.

“The building itself is going to be a mirror image of the building we built here in Grand Junction that we finished in May of 2007,” Brainard said. “The purpose is, there are new business aircraft being manufactured at a tremendous rate. Most of the manufacturers have backlogs going well beyond 2013 for new jets. We want to be able to capture as much of that market share as possible.”

From an operating standpoint, the new building will be a freestanding operation that won’t take direction from the Grand Junction location. From a corporate standpoint, the new building in South Carolina will be part of the Grand Junction operation, as its finances will be rolled in with finances of the local location, he said. As far as impacting the local work force, Brainard said, “It shouldn’t at all.”

There is one local employee with interest in returning to the Eastern area, he said.

The South Carolina facility will serve as West Star’s eastern presence, while Grand Junction is its western focal point and its Dallas location serves the southern states. The Eastern facility hangar will cost about $6 million. Grand Junction’s facility cost a little more, at $8 million, because of more expensive steel on the roof of the building to handle snow load here.

Locally, West Star Aviation employs about 350 and is one of Grand Junction’s larger employers. The Eastern location will create 105 jobs.

West Star is looking to get approved for authorized service centers in Grand Junction, which would create 200 to 250 new jobs in Grand Junction, Brainard said.


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