Gen Cap Exits Aero Systems

After just over a five-year hold, Gen Cap America has sold Aero Systems Engineering to Calspan Technology.

Aero Systems Engineering (ASE) designs, builds and upgrades jet engine testing and wind tunnel facilities, and provides lab testing services and equipment (thrust stands, engine adapters, universal test components) for jet engines and airframes. ASE’s products and services are sold under the FluiDyne and Aero Systems Engineering brands to aerospace OEMs; maintenance, repair, and overhaul service providers; military organizations; government agencies; universities and research organizations.

Customers include GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, American Airlines, China Airlines, Delta, and Korean Air among many others. ASE, founded in 1952, is led by CEO David Meier and is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. ASE, founded in 1952, is led by CEO David Meier and is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“ASE remains the world’s number one supplier of ground-based testing solutions and expertise for the aerospace industry,” said Mr. Meier. “Our partnership with Gen Cap helped us achieve this status, and I look forward to continuing with our track record of success with Calspan.”

Gen Cap and Eagle Private Capital acquired ASE in October 2014 from Tonka Bay Equity Partners and Centerfield Capital Partners.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed supporting the ASE team in growing the business since our investment in 2014. This has been an excellent investment for Gen Cap and that is mostly due to the great team that we backed at ASE,” said Matt Lane, a managing director at Gen Cap. “While the current environment has brought uncertainty into the aviation industry, thanks to the ASE team we are confident that ASE will continue to thrive going forward.”

Gen Cap America invests in companies with revenues between $10 million and $200 million and EBIT of $2 million to $15 million that are active in the manufacturing, distribution, or service sectors. The firm is currently investing through Southwest Fund VII, a $250 million fund that had a final close at its hard cap in January 2017. Gen Cap was founded in 1988 and is based in Nashville.

“ASE has been an excellent example of our firm’s long history of teaming with existing management in lower middle-market companies,” said Barney Byrd, the president of Gen Cap.

Buffalo-headquartered Calspan provides research and testing services to the aerospace and transportation industries. The company’s Buffalo facility houses a variety of research and testing facilities, including a transonic wind tunnel; ground vehicle crash testing; dynamic sled testing and research; and tire research and performance testing. At its Niagara Falls facility, the company conducts flight-testing, flight training, and aircraft modifications. Calspan also has prototype test device manufacturing capabilities in Newport News, Virginia, as well as force measurement equipment manufacturing capabilities in San Diego, California.

“In the face of these uncertain times, we remain blessed to have private owners in Lou Knotts and John Yurtchuk, who maintain a vision and commitment for the long-term success of Calspan, its employees and their families. This strategic acquisition is a tangible demonstration of this continued vision and commitment,” said Peter Sauer, the president of Calspan.

The buy of ASE closed on July 24, 2020, and the new company – now Calspan Aero Systems Engineering – will retain its management, technical and support staff and will continue operations at its location in St. Paul.

Private Equity Professional | August 4, 2020

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