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West Coast ascends, acquires Peak Helicopters

dscn3965enhanced1Dec. 4, 2014 – West Coast Helicopters Maintenance and Contracting Ltd. has purchased Peak Helicopters based in Parksville, B.C. in a deal that includes all, inventory, personnel and existing businesses, including Peak’s fleet of two Bell 206 BIII and 206 LR helicopters.


December 4, 2014
By Matt Nicholls Editor Helicopters Magazine

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Dec. 4, 2014 – West Coast Helicopters Maintenance and Contracting Ltd. has purchased Peak Helicopters based in Parksville, B.C. in a deal that includes all, inventory, personnel and existing businesses, including Peak’s fleet of two Bell 206 BIII and 206 LR helicopters.

Under the terms of the agreement, Peak owner, Derek Flug, will stay on with West Coast for a limited time as the lead pilot and customer liaison with Peak’s client base to ensure a smooth transition. Flug has experience with the West Coast team, having worked at the company previously for two years.

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West Coast Helicopters and Peak Helicopters have joined forces.


Peter Barratt, vice president of West Coast, said the deal is a positive one for both companies on several levels. West Coast was looking to acquire light machines to add to its fleet, while Flug and his wife, Laverna, were seeking to get out of the helicopter operations side of the business and pursue other ventures.

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“We have got all the maintenance, payroll and other infrastructure elements so it works very well from that perspective,” noted Barratt. “When we started up 37 years ago, I brought the base from 182 hours of operation to about 1,800 and I was talking about how we needed AStars. Over the years, we built the AStar business and were doing nothing but AStar flying until 2010 when the bottom crashed out of the economy. A lot of groups were looking for the cheapest nickel, which was Jet Rangers and R44s. By that time, we were down to one Jet Ranger. So, we have been looking at how we can get back into the light market without going out there and trying to compete. Derek is a great guy, he’s super friendly with the customers – he does the job. He also has secured other types of work that didn’t compete with us. So, he built a great business up which gives us an entirely new revenue stream.”

Peak helicopters specializes in infrared scanning, logging support and more. “Others do logging support as well,” Barratt notes, “but not as effective as Peak. This also gives us the Jet Rangers we wanted as well as the revenue stream to pay for the cost. And the good news here is we are getting such a good guy on board as well. I call him an ‘I’ personality – he’s right out there interacting with customers all the time. He is now flying for us which will smooth the transition – and he is excited about it too.”

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West Coast Helicopters’ team left to right: Terry Eissfeldt, Laverna Flug, Derek Flug, Peter Barratt.


Flug had been operating on the B.C. coast for more than 20 years and has been battling intense competition for some time. Peak has been able to work in a number of niche markets, developing mapping procedures and infrared scanning techniques that were in demand from its customers – customers he considers friends. Ensuring those relationships remain solid is a key consideration going forward.

“It’s been a nice little run and there are a lot of people starting to get back into the light market at the moment,” Flug said. “I know Peter was concerned that West Coast had left a hole in their company by exiting that market and concentrating on the intermediates for so long.”

Flug started Peak Helicopters in 2006 and tried to work with one customer on Vancouver Island for his mapping services. But he admitted, “It just doesn’t work that way. If you are not going forward in the helicopter industry it’s the same as going backwards. You can’t survive with one customer.” Flug agreed that West Coast and Peak have had a great working relationship for years, so the deal just makes sense.

“They were very happy to know I would sell. I was going to have to put a bigger infrastructure in if I was going to continue, expanding, taking on more staff, and I mentioned this to Laine (Laine Valentine who has succeeded Barratt as ops manager at West Coast) and he suggested I just sell to West Coast. I agreed. We spent a few months putting it together . . . and now I am in full panic mode,” Flug said laughing. “Seriously, we are very comfortable with it. It takes a lot of effort to run something yourself. I enjoyed it, but I also like to make changes and do different things.”

Flug and his wife plan to pursue some aviation-related ventures in the helicopter sector as well as other investment opportunities outside aviation.

“It’s a very competitive industry. If I didn’t have the niche markets I did, I wouldn’t go head to head with any other companies. I just wouldn’t. It reminds me of a seagull at a McDonald’s parking lot. Someone throws a French fry on the ground and all the seagulls go at it. They all get a whack at it but none of them get full.”


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