Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 24 seconds.
After a tumultuous first half of 2022 for the storied Enstrom Helicopter Corp., the future is beginning to look bright once again. In January, after over 60 years of manufacturing helicopters, Enstrom was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Shortly after, during HAI Heli-Expo 2022, Texas-based MidTex Aviation appeared ready to take over the reins and reopen the doors. However, by May, financing for the move had not come through and the outlook for Enstrom once again looked bleak.
Enter Chuck Surack. The highly successful Fort Wayne, Indiana-based businessman built his fortune with Sweetwater Sound, the world’s largest online musical instrument and audio equipment provider. Surack has a longtime passion for aviation, evidenced in two of his other companies: Sweet Helicopters and Sweet Aviation. These provide charter services, flight training, aircraft rentals, and maintenance for rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft. He earned his helicopter flight ratings in an Enstrom several years ago, and when he saw the struggles the company was going through, he decided to step in.
Vertical recently joined Surack on a visit to his newly acquired factory in Menominee, Michigan, where he met with company executives for updates on restarting production of both piston and turbine models.
“This is a great company with an incredible history of building safe, reliable helicopters — and I want to continue that,” he said.
When asked about potential issues with bringing back previous staff as well as finding new talent, Surack said: “There’s a good core of people in this area that we can tap into, and we offer good pay and benefits. They will see that I will take care of them, just like I have at all my other companies.” He also proudly added, “In 43 years of business, I have never laid off an employee and I don’t plan to start now.”
Also joining Surack was Helicopter Association International president and CEO James Viola. When asked about the importance of Surack’s acquisition, Viola said: “The energy and excitement that Chuck brings is a win for both Enstrom and the helicopter industry. The success that he has had in his other endeavors will surely translate here, to the benefit of not only Enstrom, but the people who work here and all of us in the aviation world.”