AVIACO GSE is a company on the move, in more ways than one. Operating in its current format for just five years, it has grown quickly in its role of GSE refurbishing specialist. It then sells or leases the equipment it has worked on to customers all over the world
In fact, says CEO Danny Vranckx, AVIACO GSE is growing day by day and, while it currently places about 500 units of refurbished GSE into the market each year, within the next couple of years Vranckx expects this business to have increased to some 1,000 pieces per annum.
Such has been the company’s recent growth, and its need to cater to new geographical markets it is now serving, that it has expanded into new facilities. In October last year, AVIACO opened the doors of a new workshop in Ampolla, Spain. The company employs nearly a dozen engineers at the plant, all of them with years of experience as mechanics and technical specialists, Vranckx explains.
On a tour of the workshop, Airside’s editor was shown the wide range of GSE that these engineers are refurbishing – from passenger stairs to ambulifts, from ground power units (GPUs) to towbars, from baggage trolleys to conveyor belts. They are of many brands, large and small.
The 18,000 square foot facility complements AVIACO’s other big workshop, which is located in the Netherlands and has a footprint of 11,000 square feet. AVIACO also has branches in South Africa and Singapore to be close to the African and Far Eastern markets, all of which the company is now serving.
In fact, the Spanish workshop is also well placed for GSE that is refurbished and then sold or leased to African customers. That continent is now a particularly important source of business for AVIACO, and the Ampolla facility is ideally situated within easy reach of three Spanish ports – Valencia, Barcelona and Tarragona – for easy shipping to Africa.
These ports allow ready access to North America, too, as well as to ports elsewhere around Europe, from where most of AVIACO’s GSE feedstock originates. The company was also attracted to the Ampolla region because of the skilled labour available there, says Vranckx.
At the moment, the workshop only undertakes refurbishment and overhaul work, not scheduled maintenance, although the latter is certainly a potential source of expansion for AVIACO. Work ranges from light refurbishment of GSE right through to full overhauls to near-new standard, and the packages offered are of a standardised nature or can be completely bespoke for any given customer. Clients can undertake pre-delivery inspections (PDIs) to check their GSE is of the agreed standard prior to receiving it.
As business continues to grow, so further expansion of AVIACO’s footprint is always under consideration, Vranckx confirms. New workshops might well be required in the not too distant future, whether in Spain, elsewhere in Europe or close to other markets around the world.
The rental market will remain key to the AVIACO business model. And Vranckx is keen to stress what might be called the ‘ad hoc rental’ capability that his company has – the ability to meet the need of any customer for rapid delivery of GSE on a rental basis (AVIACO also sells some entirely new GSE, but this is a smaller part of the business). Quick delivery and ready availability of all types of GSE are essential to this product, and key aspects of the AVIACO offering.
While its product is certainly price-competitive and affordable for potential customers, rock-bottom prices are not the objective, Vrancks agrees. Its service is of too high a standard for that. Rather, the emphasis is on meeting any customer’s needs both quickly and to a high quality: GSE that can be used for “at least another 10 years”, Vranckx says.
The AVIACO group now incorporates about 40 people based across the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa and Singapore, as well as Spain. A truly multinational enterprise, its employees reflect the skills of the markets in which the company is active. In fact, AVIACO needs ‘anchors’ – people and businesses – in all the major markets it serves, Vranckx says, and it has ‘representatives’ in those locations where it currently does not have its own businesses or staff.