Steve Townes, Advisor, Aerospace

Mr. Steve Townes is the CEO & founder of Ranger Aerospace LLC (www.rangeraerospace.com) a holding company he founded, headquartered in Greenville, SC. He has over 36 years industry experience, over half of which has been as either CEO or COO, chiefly in the rarefied context of Private Equity and Venture Capital majority ownership.  Mr. Townes is a nationally recognized industry entrepreneur, turnaround expert, and private equity leader in the aviation, airline services, and aerospace/defense industries, and advises Sigma on investments and acquisitions in that $400 Billion worldwide marketplace. Ranger Aerospace, started in March 1997, is a privately held investment and management holding company that partners with larger private equity institutions to acquire and grow companies in aviation services and aerospace support operations. Ranger and its co-investors add value to acquired companies via seasoned veterans experienced in aviation services, aerospace program management, engineering, finance, government programs, executive search, C-level consulting, corporate development, MIS, marketing & strategic planning, LEAN initiatives, Total Quality Management, mergers & acquisitions, post-merger integration, and turnarounds.

LATE 2016 UPDATE:  In its near-20 years of operations since March 1997 inception thus far, Ranger Aerospace has led multiple large-scale consolidations, creating award-winning enterprises in several  different Aviation Services sectors, through differing economic cycles, and with varying company cultures and business models in the acquired outfits. The 3 big “realized” successes (i.e.: exiting the investment, selling to a strategic buyer) have been: Aircraft Service International Group, Inc. (“ASIG,” sold to the large British conglomerate BBA Group PLC); Keystone Helicopter Corporation (sold to Sikorsky, a unit of United Technologies Corp); and Ranger International (sold to Berger Group of Companies). By selling to strategic buyers, the enterprises then grow and flourish with more resources. ASIG has more than tripled since divestiture, and was placed on an excellent growth track by Ranger. Keystone Helicopter has quintupled since divestiture, and was on a very aggressive growth trajectory with Ranger. With its divestiture in 2012, Ranger’s  Government Services platform is growing as part of its new billion-dollar parent. 

In 2016, Ranger’s newest ventures entail two different consolidation platforms.  One is a specialty niche company performing retrofits for commercial airliner interiors. The second is a much larger global company with operations at more than half of the world’s Top 50 airports, providing products, services, and equipment leases to the Air Cargo segment.  The Air Cargo operation is one of Ranger’s largest acquisitions, ever, and is planned for at least doubling in the next 5 years.

The common themes in these successes are: quality-centered management, disciplined business planning and measurements systems, aggressive and relentless marketing & sales, investments in people, unwavering compliance to FAA and FAR regulations, and integrating bolt-on acquisitions to grow the initial platform. Operational improvements and Lean initiatives yield improving levels of profitability, combined with an exceptionally low-cost approach toward corporate level overheads at the Holding Company. Thus, when Ranger’s work is done, the profit multiplier for valuation is higher, especially with strategic buyers. Ranger follows a serious-minded “Good to Great” philosophy, and maintains a very principled leadership methodology while aggressively building businesses.

Townes' most recent divestiture was Ranger International Services Group, Inc., which was sold for an excellent value to a $1 Billion strategic buyer in 2012. Ranger International made aggressive acquisitions in the midst of the "great recession," creating a $100 Million enterprise performing Government Technical Services for various DOD agencies and for larger prime contractors. Services included airfield operations, aircraft technical services, logistics services, heavy vehicular overhaul and "RESET," engineering services, and base support operations. Ranger International’s business units employed about 1,000 people in various bases and depots in the US and overseas. That enterprise is now known as Louis Berger Services, Inc.  The sale by Ranger yielded 61% “IRR” for equity investors in the Ranger International platform.

Townes remained for 2 years of post-merger integration, which included the add-on acquisition of Hawthorne Services, Inc., in Charleston SC, and the integration of two other Divisions from the parent company into the LBS enterprise, bringing total revenues up to roughly $150MM.  With integration done successfully, Townes intentionally stepped away in mid-2014 to commence new Ranger ventures, including the two new acquisitions in Commercial Aircraft MRO and Air Cargo Services.

Case Study:  One of Townes' most successful ventures was the acquisition and growth of Keystone Helicopter, where he was CEO and a substantial co-investor. That 50-year old family company was tripled under Ranger to $132 Million, with commensurate growth in EBITDA profits. Shareholder value was more than quadrupled in less than 5 years, the company was sold for a strategic premium (51% IRR earned by institutional equity investors) to United Technologies in late 2005, and is now a centerpiece unit of UTC's Sikorsky Helicopter division. In that high-performing consolidation, Ranger also financed and built the "Keystone HeliPlex," the largest helicopter technical services center in North America, and also acquired Composite Technology Inc, a major overhauler of rotorblades.

In his distinguished aerospace career thus far, Mr. Townes' previous experiences also include CEO of Aircraft Service Intl Group, a 56-city aviation services firm with 4,250 employees, which he built up through multiple acquisitions and international joint ventures, then successfully sold to a $3B strategic buyer from England. "ASIG" was Ranger's first deal commencing in 1997, when Townes first went independent as a private equity investor and roll-up CEO. Townes began the first years of his career at a multi-billion dollar aerospace manufacturer (LTV Aerospace & Defense). Also CEO of a large aircraft engineering services firm performing over 2 Million man-hours per year of heavy services, COO of a multi-city FBO chain, and marketing & major programs Officer in a large aero-mod's company.

 Townes holds a passive minority investments in other aerospace enterprises and non-aerospace LP investments (no board or management involvement). Ranger Aerospace and several related limited partnerships also hold investments in real estate, publicly traded aerospace securities, and other private industrial ventures such as Ranger Partners Group.

Mr. Townes is an engineering graduate of West Point (1975), MBA from Long Island University (1980), and PMD from Harvard Business School (1985). He won the Eisenhower Award upon graduation from West Point, and is a former Airborne Ranger officer in the Army. He served 5 years as an Army officer, prior to starting his 36-year civilian aerospace career. He was Chairman of SkyTanking GmbH for several years, a German-based airfields fueling company, was the Vice Chairman of Ranger Saudia Ltd., and has other extensive international business experiences in Latin America, Europe and Middle East. He has been on the Board of Governors of The Wings Club in New York, a prestigious worldwide organization of thousands of high-ranking aerospace, airline, finance, and government executives. Townes is a board level Advisor of Precision Aviation Group, Inc., in Atlanta GA. He also owns RangerPartnersGroup LLC, which has the capability to perform numerous types of consultancies to companies in the aviation, air cargo, and aerospace industries, supplemented with highly qualified Adjunct Partners. Ranger Partners Group was founded in September 1988.

The Ranger business model of buy, build, improve, and re-sell is highly repeatable and garners superior investment returns, as Townes and the senior executive team have proven repeatedly in various aerospace sub-segments. While Townes is building the Air Cargo platform and the MRO platform to their “next level” as the full-time CEO, he predicts that the Air Cargo venture will become Ranger’s largest and best enterprise, ever.  He is contemplating that there should be a next-generation of leaders for Ranger Aerospace as these current ventures mature, with Townes remaining as Chairman, a Board director, and co-investor.  As a sure sign of his role as an industry leader, Townes was tapped as the inaugural Chairman of “SC Aerospace,” a statewide public/private partnership in South Carolina that unites the growth efforts of multiple government agencies, 16 technical colleges, and hundreds of companies (South Carolina is the fastest growing state in the USA’s aerospace industry).

Email: Townes@sigmacapital.net (or)  stownes@rangeraerospace.com

 

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