What began in late 2000 finally came to a fruitful conclusion when ACL Airshop and Ranger Aerospace agreed to team up for expansion. The two South Carolina companies announced the partnership today in an executive press briefing at the IATA World Cargo Symposium in Berlin, Germany.
ACL Airshop, a provider of products to leading air carriers out of Easley SC, operates in five highly complementary business segments including cargo control products manufacturing, ULD leasing, ULD sales, ULD repairs, and ULD logistics management. ULD’s, or Unit Load Devices, are the various pallets, containers, straps, and nets that are FAA-mandated to secure cargo loads inside airplanes.
Since 1997, Greenville’s Ranger Aerospace teams with institutional private equity funds to acquire, lead, improve, and grow companies in aerospace, air cargo, aviation services, government services, airfield operations, and the trades and technologies that serve the global aerospace/defense and aviation sectors.
As part of the deal, Ranger Airshop, an investment platform created and managed by Ranger Aerospace, will bring in additional capital strength and management resources to support ACL Airshop’s growth.
This teaming investment is “our best deal ever”, said Steve Townes, a 1975 engineering graduate of West Point and CEO of Ranger Aerospace.
“The chemistry among the leadership teams and employees is genuinely positive,” he said. “This deal bears a close ‘analog’ to our successes with ASIG and Keystone Helicopter, and I predict it will lead to our largest and most valuable enterprise. ACL Airshop has the potential to double, triple, maybe even more in the next decade.”
The partnership with ACL will push Ranger’s 19-year total to over $490 million in buying, selling, and investing transactions. Along with four institutional partners led by Argosy Capital, Ranger assembled the strongest capitalization in the company’s history to ensure the growth of ACL Airshop.
At Ranger, “we’re not financiers, aviation is in our blood as long-serving industry veterans,” Townes said.
“We come together with ACL as like-minded partners from the aviation industry, and I am very enthused to roll up my sleeves with our ACL teammates and help grow this company to considerable scale on behalf of its customers and employees,” he said.
To keep pace with rising industry trends, ACL Airshop intends to invest for growth and expand geographically.
“By teaming with Ranger, ACL will now have the growth resources to accomplish even more for our customers,” said ACL Airshop President and CEO, Tony Morgan.
“We will expand our geographic footprint in response to customers’ needs, while increasing our technical depth with the best cargo control products in the industry,” he said.
Currently, ACL is increasing its operational footprint in North America, South America, and Europe. The company also has a significant service presence in Dubai, Hong Kong, and mainland China, with plans for opening a service and repair center at Tokyo, Japan’s, Narita Airport.
In addition, the use of air cargo as a preferred shipping method is growing steadily, reflecting the global shift to speedy logistics and just-in-time supply chain management.
Published reports recently cited over $5 trillion in new orders for commercial planes through the year 2035, and almost all of those planes will carry cargo—not just the air cargo freighters. In addition, the U.S. military’s air transport requirements, along with allied nations, comprises another global cargo airlift segment that utilizes huge quantities of pallets, nets, straps, containers, and other equipment.
“We were at a point where steadily rising orders were beginning to push the envelope of our manufacturing capacity,” Morgan said.
“Ranger’s capital and expertise will allow ACL Airshop to increase manpower, production capabilities and efficiency,” he said. “Having equipment where you need, when you need, is the key to our success, and partnering with Ranger will increase our ability to continually accomplish this goal.”