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MRO EAST COAST
Company Profile - Rotortech Services, Inc.
Article/Photos by Lyn Burks

Looking at the front of the Rotortech Services facility, I have many thoughts. The first is, “WOW, what a nice facility.” The location is pretty amazing, but the structure itself is even more impressive. Looking past its pretty face, I also recognize that at the end of the day, a business is more that just a building.  It’s really about the people and services it provides to the industry.

After decades of business dealings in the helicopter industry, I have learned that successful companies are built on the backs of people who have vision and are not afraid to risk their sweat and treasure. Rotortech Services is no exception, and reinforces my experience that behind every progressive enterprise lies a story of interesting characters who by their very will, “make things happen.”

Most people who are 70-something years old and have been very successful in business, would do things like retire, move to Boca Raton, shank golf balls, watch the grandkids, and do karaoke night at the clubhouse on Tuesdays.  Most people that is, but not Walter S. McPhail.

Walter McPhail may be the least likely candidate on the planet to start a helicopter maintenance and repair shop.  You know that beeping sound you hear when you open your car door and leave your keys in the ignition or leave your lights on?  Well his Michigan engineering company, Lectron Products, invented it and thousands of other products used by the automotive industry.  Lectron, based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, made transmission valves, speed-sensitive steering systems, lighting controls, emission-control valves and remote keyless entry systems.  Walter sold Lectron to Eaton Corp. in the mid 90’s, after which he continued other interests, which included flying his own MD500 helicopter.

While flying his MD500 in Southeast Florida, Walter used several regional maintenance shops when his helicopter needed repair or routine maintenance.  Most of those experiences left him unsatisfied with the quality of service he was receiving when compared to the money he was spending. This got him to looking around the Florida helicopter market on a macro-economic level, which led him to a couple of conclusions.  First, the market was very under-served. Second, he felt he could build a much better mousetrap than existed at the time.  He wanted to build a world-class maintenance facility for the area.  So in early 2004, this semi-retired automotive engineering business mogul developed a business plan for Rotortech Services and by December 1 of the same year, wrenches were being turned for hire.

Walter’s first order of business was to find a right-hand man in the form of a Director of Maintenance. He was fortunate to attract Rob Lee, a decades-long maintenance veteran of the South Florida helicopter market.  As a well-respected and well-travelled mechanic and maintenance manager with 16 factory-training certifications under his belt, his job would be to run the maintenance business.  Walter’s second step was to design and build a world-class facility that would provide not only a place to work, but also one that would diversify its revenue streams beyond just turning wrenches.
Build It and They Will Come

Currently, Rotortech Services is designed to hold 15 – 20 helicopters, and is a combination maintenance and helicopter storage facility.  With 15 employees, not only do they maintain local aircraft, but they also have international and military contract work.  Mechanics are the life-blood of the organization and as such, very high standards are set by the company with respect to mechanic qualifications.  Not only are all mechanics factory trained, but also they must hold A&P’s with an IA (Inspection Authorization).

Most of Rotortech Services’ work revolves around Eurocopter, Bell, MD, Agusta, Turbomeca, and Rolls Royce products.  Although 91% of their business is maintenance and parts sales, it’s the other 9% that provides an interesting twist to the business model.  Let’s suppose you need to operate, store, and/or maintain your helicopter in Southeast Florida for a week, month, year, or permanently.  This is where Rotortech Services can be viewed as different than the typical MRO.

Their model goes beyond just servicing aircraft operated out of a facility, or billable hours charged for maintenance.  They are a one-stop shop for the helicopter owner/operator.  Not only can an owner/operator aircraft be securely stored inside 24/7/365 and maintained by a highly experienced staff, but also the pilot can have an office right in the same facility.  As an added bonus, Rotortech Services provides all storage clients usage of thier custom helicopter landing dollies while helicopters are stored at their facility. The facility also houses world-class meeting space for client meetings or employee training.

Rotortech Services
 

  • 24/7/365 secured, indoor helicopter storage
  • Helicopter landing dolly usage while stored at Rotortech
  • Office rentals, conference /training rooms
  • Domestic and International travel maintenance services
  • Full scope of maintenance, aircraft modification, completion of green aircraft
  • Import and Export Certificate of Airworthiness


Finding a Niche

Being located three miles from Palm Beach, Florida, where ocean, land, and rich people all come together to form a trifecta, Rotortech has been able to serve a niche community.  The yachting industry is one of Rotortech’s most valued customer bases.  This exclusive group of clients is demanding in every way, with constantly moving logistics, giant personalities, and high expectations controlling the outcomes.  Rob Lee, the DOM, indicates that meeting the challenges in the yacht/helicopter market requires serious flexibility and the ability to think on your feet.  Because Rotortech feeds on such challenges, they have been rewarded with a substantial amount of the worldwide yacht / helicopter industry business.

As for what’s in store for the future of Rotortech, the team would only indicate that one of the big keys to the future growth of their business revolved around international prospects and military contracts.  They also added that a special project would be completed in April 2013, which would impact several of their markets and be noticed by many players in the helicopter MRO world.  So stay tuned!

Posted in: Company Profiles

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