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Slimmed Down and Shaped Up: Standard Aero Focuses on Aligning Cultures and Creating Awareness

May 27, 2008  By Drew McCarthy

There’s a story told about NASA back in the 1960s. A visitor walked into one of the buildings and saw a man sweeping the floor. He asked the man what he was doing and the worker replied, “I’m sending a man to the moon.”

There’s a story told about NASA back in the 1960s. A visitor walked into one of the buildings and saw a man sweeping the floor. He asked the man what he was doing and the worker replied, “I’m sending a man to the moon.”

Standard Aero has supported the RR250 engine for more than 40 years and has the world’s largest Model 250 MRO.

That’s the type of vision that Andrew Farrant, senior vice-president, marketing and corporate communications at Standard Aero, is working to foster. “The point is that he understood what he was doing in the broader context,” says Farrant, “ and that’s really what we want our employees to recognize.”

Farrant is one of the key players in the recent alignment of the group of businesses that now make up Standard Aero. It was in late March 2008 that Standard Aero completed the integration of Landmark Aviation’s legacy maintenance facilities (formerly Garrett Aviation Services) and launched its new corporate identity.


The new Standard Aero, which now consists of the five legacy Landmark Aviation maintenance facilities and the seven legacy Standard Aero facilities combined, was created when Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) purchased Standard Aero and Landmark Aviation from the Carlyle Group in July 2007.  In February 2008, DAE sold the FBOs and the Landmark name to GTCR, Encore FBO and Platform Partners.

The company is now operating as one unified entity with more than 4,000 employees in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. Annual sales are $1.4 billion.

Bringing these kinds of entities together is not without its challenges. “This has been much more than simply a corporate identity re-brand,” Farrant explains. “The toughest part of bringing these businesses together is getting the culture aligned.”

slimmed2   slimmed3
The amount of
development, investment and creativity currently in the industry is
unbelievable, says Standard Aero president Paul Soubry.
  Andrew Farrant, senior
vice-president, marketing and corporate communications at Standard
Aero, says that the toughest part of bringing the businesses together
is getting the cultures aligned. 

The goal is to instill in all employees the brand, vision and values of the company. To accomplish this, the company plans to draw from the history of its predecessor businesses and ensure that important defining characteristics are articulated both internally among employees and externally into the marketplace.

Part of that process involves helping employees see the bigger picture. For example, some employees in the legacy Standard Aero environment actually never see a customer. An engine gets boxed up and shipped to a facility, they fix it and they send it back.

“We want them to think about what they are doing in a much broader way than just fixing an engine,” says Farrant. “Ultimately that engine’s going to fit onto a customer’s product and ultimately they’ve got an opportunity to enhance that customer’s ownership and operating experience and that’s really what we are getting at with the vision.”

The thought process is based on the idea that “a brand is synonymous with a company’s reputation.”

“The idea was to take a venerable name like Standard Aero and present it in an updated context and ensure that it is extendable over a broad range of services so that we didn’t end up in a position where we were ‘engine-centric’,” says Farrant.

The company now has five broad markets: business aviation, airlines, helicopters and energy, military, and VIP transport interior completion.

Historically, Standard Aero started out by supporting the Canadian military, but that now represents less than five per cent of their sales. They continue to do work for domestic military  as well as foreign militaries. They also provide a combination of MRO services for engines, props and QEC MRO work and have the world’s largest T56 MRO.

In addition to these MRO activities, Standard has an engineering business that sells consulting services, facility transformation, and reliability-centred maintenance to both military and governments. In the consulting business Standard has capability in Canada and the US, and has recently set up a facility in Australia.

Military is the single largest part of Standard’s business, making up roughly 35 per cent of what they do. Its largest customer is the US Dept. of Defense. They do work for the US army, navy, air force and coast guard, both directly as well as through prime contractors such as Lockheed Martin, M7 Aerospace and Sikorsky Aerospace Services.

At the core of Standard’s operation is its services segment. A longtime major player in the helicopter business servicing the RR250, Standard has supported the engine for more than 40 years and has the world’s largest Model 250 MRO.

Currently, Standard’s largest helicopter customer is Canadian Helicopters Ltd. (CHL). Back in April, Standard Aero signed a contract with CHL for exclusive component repair and overhaul services on the RR250. The contract names Standard Aero as the exclusive component repair and overhaul provider for the period of a year. The work is valued at approximately $6 million per year. Standard has been the sole MRO provider for CHL on the Rolls-Royce 250 engine since 2001.

Now, Standard is working on expanding its markets. “The light and medium helicopter markets as well as the big stuff in the military are absolutely booming right now,” says Standard Aero president Paul Soubry.  “I attended HAI this past February and was amazed at the number of orders and the activity that is going on. The amount of development, investment and creativity out there is unbelievable.”

Standard Aero’s helicopter business up until now has been focused exclusively on supporting the RR250. The company is now working very hard to create new alliances with other engine manufacturers. They have already started doing field service work on behalf of Turbomeca in Asia and have been having lots of conversations with Turbomeca and Pratt & Whitney. “It won’t be long,” says Soubry, “before you see us moving into some of the other engine programs.”

Moving from an RR250 focus to other engine programs will require both capital and human resources investments. The first requirement is obviously having the ability to access the spare parts, the tech data and the OEM programs. Once those relationships and capabilities have been established, there are investments in test cells, tooling, special tooling, test stands for accessories and so forth.

“It’s really hard to get into these programs lightly,” says Soubry, “You’ve really got to get into them in a serious way. And as you know from our history, that’s the way we’ve always approached these programs, with significant investment in a fixed infrastructure and the right people and training to be able to really provide support to the customer.”

Going forward, Standard has also begun discussions with Rolls-Royce and Robinson Helicopters in anticipation of the popularity of the new RR300. The first engine rolled off a small engine assembly line at the Rolls-Royce facility in Indianapolis, IN, last March.  A prototype 300 has been flying on a Robinson helicopter since mid-2007.

“It’s really early days obviously, but it’s very exciting to see. That’s the high end of the piston market, the low end of the turbine market, so it’s really creating a new space. Rolls has been very aggressive to try to create an engine that is affordable but still provides the power and the great history of the 250,” says Soubry. Standard is currently involved in ongoing discussions with Rolls-Royce to try to find a way to participate in the program.

The most important strategy in Standard’s approach is that its whole business is aligned with the OEMs, meaning that they use their intellectual property, technical data and everything else that follows. At the same time, Standard continues to develop a lot of its own intellectual property.

“The key to Standard’s success at this point,” says Soubry, “is its ability to optimize unique and specific customer solutions. Because we have the benefit of dealing with both OEM programs and fleets, military, regional airlines and so forth, we have been able to take a lot of the learning across these different segments and apply it to our service offerings.”

With the restructuring now complete, Standard Aero is confident that it has the solid strategies and infrastructure required to both grow market share and expand into new markets.

“Any brand is measured on two attributes,” says Farrant, “one is ‘awareness’ and the other is ‘equity.’ Take for example, the ‘Titanic,’ he says, “high on awareness, but low on equity because it sank on its maiden voyage. We have the opposite situation here at Standard, we are very high on equity but we need to improve on awareness.”

That is the task that Standard Aero is now undertaking. Farrant sees Standard Aero as being one of the industry’s best-kept secrets and his goal quite simply is to let the cat out of the bag.


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