December 24, 2013
Credit: Landmark Aviation
A little more than a year after investment firm The Carlyle Group reacquired the Landmark network of fixed-base operations (FBOs) that it helped create, the chain has begun to aggressively move to expand.
But Landmark President and CEO Dan Bucaro stresses that the growth is not just filling out “dots on a map.” Instead, he says, Landmark is hoping to take a disciplined approach to building its network in a manner that would best connect its customers. “We continue to grow the business and refine what we do,” Bucaro says.
Landmark Aviation recently moved to expand its presence at Westchester County Airport (HPN) with the acquisition of the Panorama FBO. That was the chain’s fourth acquisition in 2013 – including two in Grand Rapids, Mich., and one at Oakland International – and other announcements are expected shortly, according to ratings agency Moody’s. Moody’s rated a $75 million add-on term loan, which it said was intended to help fund Panorama, along with “other recent and future anticipated near-term acquisitions.”
Bucaro notes the firm is looking to grow through various means: organically, through acquisition and through requests for proposals, when they become available. This growth will be disciplined, he maintains. “We’re not just interested in adding locations for the sake of adding locations,” he says. “We want to fill voids in our network more relevant to the customer base.”
Landmark operates more than 50 facilities globally, many of which are at key commercial airports such as Atlanta-Hartsfield, Los Angeles International and Washington Dulles. Some geographical locations make sense to add, such as in the Midwest and Northwest, he says, noting Landmark has concentrations in the East, Southeast and parts of the West. He also discusses the possibility of strategic international growth.
But Bucaro reiterates any growth must make sense for its network. “It’s not going to be a shotgun approach,” he says. Along with adding facilities, he says, Landmark is moving to sell those that aren’t a good fit with the network.
He agrees that a large network does have benefits in terms of cost synergies, but says, “The more relevant point is what the individual, corporate and fractional customers want. They want consistency of product, and that is what a network can bring.”
It’s a philosophy that Landmark held before it was acquired by Carlyle, says Bucaro, who adds Carlyle has expressed a commitment to help the chain work toward that goal. When Carlyle acquired the firm, it promised to accelerate growth, and shortly after the deal closed Landmark announced its first significant move, the acquisition of First Aviation Services at Teterboro.
Growing the FBO chain is just one facet of the company’s expansion plans. It is also working to transform its management/charter and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) businesses. Some of the acquisitions benefit those efforts. Others are specifically targeted at those efforts, particularly on the MRO side.