Elliott worldwide leader in GPS installation

Posted Online: April 21, 2013, 8:40 am
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By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com
They call it an aviation GPS system, and Elliott Aviation has installed more than any other company in the world.

The Garmin G1000 is a state-of-the-art, three-panel display system that Elliott Aviation representatives say is part of the reason for the company's expected job growth in coming years.

Richard Baeder, Elliott vice president and general manager, said the company has installed nearly 90 G1000 avionics packages in King Air airplanes, more than all other worldwide dealers.

The G1000 retrofit consolidates all primary flight, navigation, weather, terrain, traffic, radio frequency and engine data readouts once spread across several instruments, lightening the weight of the plane by 250 pounds.

Average retail price for the G1000 is about $350,000 installed, Mr. Baeder said.

"We've made a commitment to hire 50 folks over the next two years," to keep up with demand, he said during a recent tour of the facility. "We've hired 58 over the course of the last 24 months, so we know we can do it."

Mr. Baeder said the "one-stop shop" is expanding.Besides avionics service and installations, the company does aircraft sales, maintenance, accessory repair and overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management.

Headquartered in Moline, but officially with a Milan address, Elliott also has locations in Minneapolis and Des Moines, and isa factory-authorized service center for Hawker and Beechcraft aircraft. It's the only independently-owned Hawker Authorized Service Center east of the Rocky Mountains.

Mr. Baeder said they opened the accessory overhaul shop 1 1/2 years ago. "All of the components are removed from the aircraft that aren't avionics-related.We try to overhaul those things in here. You'll see landing gear, wheels, brakes.It's been an extremely valued-added improvement to what we do here."

During the tour, workers were installing, building and retrofitting tables, sidewall pieces, cabinets and seats for various aircraft.

"These guys here would traditionally be known as cabinet makers," Mr. Baeder said in the cabinet shop. "Most of the material they use isn't made of wood. It's made of aluminum, carbon fiber and composite material.

"We want to minimize the amount of weight. If we put in an all-wood structure, the airplane would be too heavy to fly. The materials we use are very lightweight, and covered with a laminate. So when it's done, it looks like a fine piece of furniture," he said, gesturing atseveral pieces that looked like highly polished wood.

Six or seven employees work in the cabinet shop, which Mr. Baeder said "is one of the areas where we're bursting at the seams. It's not big enough to handle the capacity we need. It's something else we have to invest in."

He said the largest area of expansion will be in Elliott's service shop, with the hiring of certified Airframe and Powerplant mechanics.

Mr. Baeder, who served four years in the Marine Corps, said Elliott makes hiring veterans a priority, and has hired 34 veterans over the past two years. He said 61 of the companies 240 employees are veterans.

On April 8, Elliott received an invitation from Navy Vice Admiral and Navy Reserve Chief Robin Braun, inviting company officials to the Norfolk Naval Base on July 26 to be honored as an outstanding employer of Navy Reservists.

"We focus on this," Mr. Baeder said. "Guys getting out of the military after four or six or 10 years are outstanding."

He said he has talked with representatives of Black Hawk College about careers in aviation, and has been invited to do presentations at area schools, including United Township and Davenport West.

"There's a lot of opportunity for kids in the community to find a great career path and a very interesting career field that would serve them well," Mr. Baeder said.

While Elliott Aviation has been in the news often over the past year for adding jobs, it's also been in the news for landing a state bill exempting the company from paying property taxes.

The tax exemption resulted in a lawsuit filed last month by the Moline School District against Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and various taxing bodies, claiming Elliott's exemption is unconstitutional.

A few weeks before the lawsuit was filed, Gov. Quinn and Elliott announced the company would add 50 new jobs and invest $1.8 million over the next two years in improvements.

Elliott Aviation
Diversified aviation services company headquartered in Moline with additional locations in Minneapolis and Des Moines.

They provide technical support for aircraft as well as purchasing, refurbishing and reselling aircraft all over the world.

Company started in 1936 when Herb Elliott started Elliott Flying Service on a grass airstrip in DeWitt, Iowa.

1947 - Elliott Aviation becomes exclusive dealership of Beechcraft products.

1958 - Elliott acquires a facility in Des Moines.

1961 - Elliott relocates Quad-Cities' headquarters from Davenport to Moline.

1972 - Elliott acquires a facility in Minneapolis, Minn.

1982 - Elliott moves headquarters from the north side of the Moline field to the south side.

1995 - Name changed to Elliott Aviation to reflect the increased focus on maintenance, repair and overhaul.

2003 - New paint completions facility constructed.

2007 - Elliott Aviation Design center completed to design exterior and interior of aircraft.

2011 - Accessory shop established to complete landing gear overhauls.


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