Small Business & Startups and Travel & Tourism

Private aviation firm joins market

Specialty will be charters within 200 to 400 miles of West Michigan.

October 17, 2014
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A new private aviation firm has joined the West Michigan market.

Marceco Aviation hosted an open house last week to introduce itself to small and mid-sized businesses, which the company thinks could benefit from its service.

Mark Kimball, CEO of Marceco Aviation, said his other business, Marceco Ltd., a cell phone distribution company, has benefited greatly from utilizing aviation to get to and from its clients across the country.

“We’ve used aviation as a business tactic to help us scale our business,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success with it and we believe in that business tactic, and we think it can help other local companies scale their businesses.”

Kimball said Marceco Ltd. started out as a local distribution company but over time grew to a statewide and then a regional company. He said as the company’s geographic service area grew, it began to see a need for getting to clients more quickly.

“As we got new business opportunities in farther-away places, the idea of driving 12 hours to Minnesota in order to sell our product just became too much,” he said. “We landed on this strategy of using aviation. Since we’ve engaged that tactic, our business has grown by significant multiples.”

In 2009, the company purchased its first plane, a Cirrus SR22, a single engine aircraft that can carry up to three passengers and the pilot. He said Marceco Ltd. now operates in 41 states.

Seeing a great opportunity for other businesses, Kimball said the idea for a charter plane company was born.

“We’d like to share that principle with other small to medium-size business owners to take advantage of the same strategy,” he said. “We’ve gone through the process with the Federal Aviation Administration of forming a charter company.”

Marceco Aviation operates two Cirrus SR22 planes.

“ABC company can come to us and say, ‘Hey, we have a plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We would like to fly two people down to Fort Wayne on Tuesday to visit the plant and then come back home,’” Kimball explained.

“If you have to drive to Fort Wayne, you might have to spend the night and drive back the next day. If you do a charter flight with us, you can get in the plane and fly to Fort Wayne, do a two-hour tour, fly back, and your total time is less than six hours. No need to spend the night away from home.

“We think there are a lot of companies that do business within this 200- to 400-mile radius that can take advantage of this charter.”

Marceco Aviation has its base operations at the Greenville Municipal Airport but can pick up or depart from any airport.

“The majority of the time it would be the Ford Airport, but if it was a customer out of Holland, we would go to the Holland Airport,” Kimball said.

The cost is dependent on flight time. Kimball said one hour is approximately $450 and it doesn’t matter how many passengers are on the flight; it’s the same hourly cost.

“You could buy blocks of time or you can simply buy a trip at a time,” he said.

While there are several well-established private aviation companies operating in West Michigan, Kimball said he isn’t aware of any operating Cirrus SR22s, which he said is a more cost-effective option for many businesses.

“To be able to get into a plane with one or two staff members, fly a couple hundred miles and fly back in a day and have it cost less than $1,500 — that’s where I don’t know that anyone else is servicing that market,” he said.

To illustrate how effective aviation has been for Marceco Ltd., Kimball said the company’s latest purchase is an Eclipse 550, which is a small business jet.

“We use that to travel all across the country,” he said. “It is illustrative of how using aviation as a business tactic has helped us leverage talent and expand our market. Who knows, maybe someday if we want to put in the time and energy, we could put the Eclipse on our charter business.”

Marceco Aviation also offers car rental, aircraft repair, hangar rental and flight training.

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