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West Star Aviation, Norwest Equity Partners enter investment partnership


From Illinois Business Journal news services

EAST ALTON — St. Louis Regional Airport’s largest tenant is entering an investment partnership that will allow the company to grow.

West Star Aviation, an aircraft refurbishing company with locations around the country, has reached an investment partnership with Norwest Equity Partners, a middle market investment firm founded in 1961.

Norwest has made what is called a “significant investment” in West Star Aviation, what it calls one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing independent providers of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and related services to the business aviation industry. The transaction was completed on Thursday, April 28.

The amount of the investment was not announced in a statement released Friday by West Star, and a company representative said Saturday that Norwest was preparing its own statement for release on Monday.

But West Star said the investment will help the company grow. Expansion will take place as needed at its facilities in East Alton, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Grand Junction. Colo., a company official said.

In addition to those sites, West Star Aviation runs maintenance operations at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in Aspen, Colo.; Chicago Executive Airport in Chicago and Centennial Airport in Denver. The company also provides FBO services for transient aircraft at its newly remodeled East Alton and Grand Junction facilities.

“On behalf of the entire West Star team, we are confident that our new partnership with NEP will help us successfully achieve our next level of growth. In partnership with NEP, our operating philosophy will remain grounded in our strong technical expertise, experienced employees, attention to detail, and a constant focus on customer service and satisfaction,” stated Robert Rasberry, West Star Aviation CEO.

Tim DeVries, NEP managing general partner, stated, “West Star’s solid business model and industry-leading management team have helped to establish extremely high barriers to entry within the business aviation maintenance market. West Star has done a great job to earn a global reputation as a highly-valued, ‘go-to’ MRO services provider, and we’re going to work hard to leverage their existing growth momentum along with our combined NEP capital and resources to further build and grow the company.”

Todd Solow, NEP partner, said: “From expanding service capabilities and facilities to key contracts and strategic growth initiatives, West Star is well-positioned for continued success. The right team is also in place to help lead the way.”


During an interview with the Illinois Business Journal last year, West Star Aviation said it had just come off a record year of revenue, during which its local hangar space was increased by 47,000 square feet, nearly doubling its workspace.

St. Louis Regional Director of Aviation Dave Miller said at the time that West Star accounted for 60 percent of the airport authority’s annual revenue. More than 300 workers are employed at the operation, which refurbishes a variety of jets and airplanes, many under major contracts with companies and countries around the world.


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