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Michigan Firm To Provide Star Service at Van Nuys

Completion in the next month of a new fixed-base facility at Van Nuys Airport marks the first expansion by a Michigan-based aviation company. Pentastar Aviation chose Van Nuys for its status as the busiest general aviation airport in the country and its central location in the Los Angeles area. Plus, the airport could use some of the award-winning service it provides, company representatives said. “We are a fantastic candidate to bring Pentastar flavor to the airport and do things our way,” said Jim Davis, manager of the fixed-base operation. Pentastar is based out of Michigan and is owned by Edsel B. Ford II, the great-grandson of auto pioneer Henry Ford. The new Van Nuys location will operate out of temporary quarters until the redevelopment of 14 acres on Roscoe Boulevard is complete. The company is still in the preliminary planning stages of what will take shape on its property. Pentastar’s goal is to make Van Nuys equal to its facility at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford that has drawn rave reviews from business aviation publications. This spring, Aviation International News named Pentastar the third best FBO in North, South and Central Americas in its annual FBO survey. Professional Pilot magazine ranked Pentastar fifth in its annual survey. AIN senior editor Matt Thurber described Pentastar as a company that doesn’t cut corners and hires the best people who are then turned loose to do what is needed for the customer. The permanent Van Nuys facility will incorporate innovative thinking that a typical FBO would not consider, Davis said. “We are looking for the most practical solution for servicing fixed-wing and rotor aircraft,” Davis said. The temporary facility opens after the start of the new year. There is no timeline for when work begins on the permanent facility. Competing on Quality Expansion outside of Michigan has been on the minds of Pentstar executives for at least three years. A 2004 article from Aviation International News reported Ford and then-president Thomas Seeber marked Southern California as an area of expansion along with Florida and Texas. Pentastar joins a number of aviation companies with ongoing or planned construction projects at the airport. The building boom includes new facilities for The Air Group, Skytrails, Elite Aviation, and TWC Aviation. With those and other companies based at the airport, Davis admitted to an atmosphere of healthy competition faced by Pentastar. How the firm will set itself apart is through the service offered to clients and flight crews. The supervisors and managers received training at the Waterford location and they in turn will train the customer service and line service technicians in Van Nuys. “They understand it is different from what other FBOs provide,” said Amber Hoffman, marketing and communications manager. As most FBO’s perform the same duties refueling, maintenance, parking and hangar storage, accommodations for passengers and crew customer service becomes a major differentiating factor. While some customers look for cheap fuel there is a growing customer group looking for quality service. To that end, more FBOs turn to concierges to help with local arrangements, Thurber said. “These are people operating multi-million dollar jets,” Thurber said. “They have an expectation of a high level of service.” Pentastar started out as the flight department for Chrysler. In 2001, the division was purchased by Edsel Ford and became an independent company. With new ownership came a change of philosophy that included customer service. Employees have a mixture of aviation and service backgrounds. The Waterford FBO has a staff of three concierges to assist with local transportation and lodging needs and re-stocking of aircraft. Not only an operator of services but also a customer, Pentastar knows how things should be done and what a client expects, Hoffman said. With employees cross-trained in various departments there is nothing they cannot handle, Davis added.

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