Lost Military Business Sealed Sabreliner's Fate

By Kerry Lynch kerry.lynch@aviationweek.com
Source: AWIN First
January 31, 2014
Credit: Lockheed Martin

Sabreliner Corporation’s business leaned heavily on military contracts that disappeared during sequestration, forcing the company into default on its bank loan and leading to the bank’s sale of the company to an investment firm.

Sabreliner’s primary debt holders sold the company after it lost half of its business during last year’s sequestration budget cutting and was unable to make its debt payment. The company previously had been owned by the same investment group that included company Chairman F. Holmes Lamoreux since 1983. As a result of the sale, Lamoreux is leaving the company he has led since its inception. Also departing is the company’s president, Susan Aselage, the second employee to join Sabreliner when it was established.

The company was originally created to support the Sabreliner fleet — both corporate and military variants — after Rockwell International decided to exit the business. Over the years Sabreliner had diversified its business to support other corporate and government aircraft.

Aselage notes that company performed more Learjet phase inspections than anyone, including the original equipment manufacturer. On the government side, the company had added helicopter work for heads of state, and inspected KC-135s for the U.S. Air Force’s Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension.

But as the economy faltered, Aselage says, “the pipeline for both types of work dried up at the same time.” Sabreliner’s primary business was its military/government work, accounting for about 70% of its business. This business was significantly eroded by sequestration, which either cost or greatly diminished its contracts to support the government’s fleet of C-12 aircraft, build P-3 center wing assemblies and inspect KC-135s via the government’s CAStLE program, she says.

“The company has managed to sustain itself and recently saw an uptick in both sectors, but the increased business has come too late to satisfy the company’s present debt,” she says.

Aselage says Sabreliner had been for sale and company executives had been in discussions with numerous potential buyers. “Unfortunately, none of those transactions could be completed before the bank took action,” she says.

Sabreliner is saying little about the new owner, called Sabreliner Services LLC, which was reportedly formed in recent weeks by the Florida investment firm Innovative Capital Holdings LLC. Sabreliner says representatives of the new owner are expected to meet with employees in the upcoming weeks.

The company employs 154 full-time workers spread out among its Clayton, Mo., headquarters and Ste. Genevieve and Perryville, Mo., locations.

Aselage and Lamoreux are considering their next options. Aselage, who separately operates a horse farm, Seabury Farm, is hoping to jump into a startup enterprise. Lamoreux is remaining on the board of several business and civic organizations, and is chairman of the St. Louis Zoological Park Subdistrict Commission.