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The Tempest Aviation Group will not be stumped. Since opening its doors in 2001, the helicopter parts and aircraft sales company has thrived by staying ahead of the curve and in the know.
Started by Steve Reeves and Laurie Saindon in Prince George, British Columbia, Tempest–which has since moved to a new 86,000-square-foot (7,990-square-meter) global headquarters in Kelowna to improve support for its ever-growing worldwide customer base–is meticulous in its efforts to keep its inventory completely stocked and up to date.
“We look at what the market is doing,” said Reeves. “Our inventory is very demand-driven. . . . We try to stay ahead of the curve a year in advance and understand what we think will happen in the following year and prepare for it.”
The ability to forecast where the market is headed is drawn from a wealth of experience. Before starting on the Tempest journey, Reeves and Saindon were chief helicopter engineers for a company that landed on hard times and eventually filed for bankruptcy. Rather than hopping into a similar role with another company, the two engineers realized there was a demand for a business that could collaborate with operators, identify any part-related problems on an aircraft and comfortably create a solution that would be right the first time.
“Our process is simple,” said Reeves. “We identify our next model of focus, such as a Bell 412. I sit with my maintenance team and discuss things like serial number breaks and market demand. Then, we’ll do our purchasing, dependent on getting as wide a variety of aircraft as possible to fit our expected customers’ needs.
“It is important to us as a company to provide like-for-like exchanges as much as possible for our customers. This reduces bill-back surprises resulting from up-charges due to a different dash number core.”
As the company grew, Reeves continued Tempest’s know-how approach by filling the team with former directors of maintenance sourced from a variety of helicopter operators and manufacturers. This allowed the company’s portfolio to include a wide assortment of helicopters, such as most Airbus, Bell, Sikorsky and MD models.
Aircraft parts, however, are not the company’s only offering. At times, it will find itself purchasing an entire fleet of aircraft, which Reeves will parse through and determine which ones can be resold and which should be parted-down as their useful service life has been reached. This side of the business has provided a healthy portion of revenue for the Canadian company–since 2001, Tempest has bought over 100 aircraft, of which nearly 30 have been resold intact.
“It depends on the condition,” explained Reeves. “When buying the aircraft, it always depends on whether it’s a worn, tired helicopter. I’m not going to sell a battle-ridden [Bell] 206 that has been owned by every operator in Canada. If we do have a helicopter for sale, I want to know it’s pristine. It has always been my vision that customers look at aircraft we have for sale and have an automatic assumption of quality and pedigree.”
The buying process is extensive for Tempest–the company aims to ensure that it’s stocked with any part or component an operator may need for a particular model of aircraft. After a pre-buy meeting and examination with the knowledgeable Tempest team, Reeves–a firm believer in the art of a deal with a handshake–will head out himself to finalize any purchase, ensuring the quality of the aircraft Tempest buys.
“I’ll spend eight months, and I will exhaust that model on certain aircraft,” he said. “I spent four years on [Bell] 412s until I felt that we had the inventory that we wanted to have on site to properly cover our customer base.”
As a result of Reeves’ stocking predictions and foresight, several helicopter operators have approached Tempest to advise them on stocking in-house parts for their shops.
“Our biggest customer base on the resale of parts is operators or companies building up spares packages,” said Reeves. “We’re exceptional for people that get a government contract to build up a spares package because our inventory is so diverse–we disassemble the entire machine down to the data plate. At times, even the OEMs buy parts from us because we will have a re-certified [part] sitting on the shelf, right down to a door hinge.”
Its widely diverse inventory has helped Tempest gain a strong foothold in the international market, serving customers in places like Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Brazil.
“Where we really shine is if you’re operating helicopters in . . . anywhere remote, and you want support. We’ll help with everything from customized spares kits to parts forecasting. We excel at coming up with what you should have, while always remaining budget-sensitive.”
Not only is Tempest able to fully support a helicopter that an operator has sent overseas, but the Canadian company also handles all the details–from packaging and shipping to all the paperwork and payments that come with the venture.
Tempest’s knowledge-based approach and experienced team have positioned the company as the go-to solution for any operator in search of helicopter parts and parts solutions. As a result, the company has experienced a level of sustained growth that has surprised even Reeves.
“When starting Tempest 19 years ago, I thought we had big dreams and goals. In the past five years, I’m happy to say we have blown through those goals as a team and are very excited to see what the next five years bring.”