Helispec continues growth in Brantley

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

In less than six months of operation, Greg Holt, President and Founder of Helispec, Inc., said Brantley's newest company continues to expand its facilities as well as hire new personnel.

"As we get facilities ready where we can take on work we can hire additional people," said Holt.

Helispec, a complete helicopter repair and overhaul facility, is located in the old Meredith Factory on Foster Street. Originally, that building was to serve as a component and small piece repair facility, said Holt, but modifications have been necessary because of 'customer requests and growth spurts.' At the first of the year, the company started an expansion project in the rear of the building to include hangar space and a 20-foot tall paint shop located outside the facility is near completion.

"It's a state-of-the-art paint booth," said Holt. "When we put a piece of equipment in, we are buying the best that is available right now."

Holt said the new $2.8 million facility, located at the Brantley Air Strip, would be complete within three years. Once that is done, the building on Foster Street will serve in its original capacity. As operations grow over the course of those three years, Holt expects to employ between 200-270 people.

"We'll take people who have a good mechanical background and start from there," said Holt. "Our goal is to have an apprentice program, where we take someone who has no background in aviation repair. For every senior mechanic we hire, we'll hire two apprentice personnel that will be assigned to that senior mechanic."

Chuck McPherson, an independent consultant who works with the Alabama Technology Network, is on-site with Helispec to insure the company's regulations are up to federal aviation standards. McPherson's main goal is to help Helispec obtain its repair station certification, while also implementing an in-house training program such as described by Holt.

"That's traditionally been done in aviation," said McPherson of the apprentice program. "You can qualify for a rating with the Federal Aviation Administration on the basis of on-the-job training."

Henry Burdg, Director of the ATN, was in Brantley on Friday to discuss with Holt, along with fellow partners Sandy Smith and Mark Topping, how best Helispec could grow and become successful.

"I'm concerned about taking a new start-up kind of concept and making sure the foundations of the business are in place," said Burdg. "Whether it be marketing, accounting or various others aspects of the company. We make sure that everything is working together to help Helispec survive in the long run. Helispec has a brand and there needs to be brand awareness in the market place. We offer them any tools we have to take that next step forward."

The foundation of Helispec, said Burdg, ensures that Alabama is not only known for its automobile manufacturers, but also in the aviation industry.