Front Range Aviation and Wetzel Aviation announce merger


A common theme of “growing our businesses” has brought two Colorado-based aircraft brokerages together in a new partnership.

Front Range Aviation LLC and Wetzel Aviation Inc have had an informal relationship since the 1990s, and have now decided to make it official by merging.

From 1st January 2018, they will become a single company under the Wetzel Aviation name, led by Pat Searle, co-owner of Front Range Aviation, as president. And they aim to increase the size and diversity of their business as a result.

Jim Riner, partner at Wetzel Aviation, told Corporate Jet Investor: “We have a common thread – we all used to work together under a different company name. Jack [Wetzel] is where we can all trace our roots back to. Independently of each other, we were both trying to figure out ways to grown our companies. We’d batted this idea around of getting together over the years, and we compared notes about it this year and discovered a common theme of growing our businesses.”

The merger will bring together two distinct customer bases and focuses on different markets, with the aim of increasing Wetzel Aviation’s global presence. Front Range Aviation does 50% of its business in Western Europe, and the new entity is expected to have an even larger presence in that market, as well as expanding operations into the Middle East and Latin America.

“We expect we’ll have a much greater global presence and scale up the size of the company,” said Riner.

“If you look at what brokerage markets we’ve been in, historically Wetzel Aviation has served different markets to Front Range Aviation,” added Searle. “By coming together, the benefit we gain is that we’re not both doing the same markets. We’re not competing against each other, we’re complementing each other and giving our customers more options.”

The companies already carry out domestic and international aviation brokerage, leasing, business and commercial aircraft sales, special missions, parts and consulting. They say their merger will bring even more diversity and creativity to their business.

“Like any business, it’s worth your time and investment to diversify your business. We all know that, in the brokerage business, there are many hills and very deep valleys. When you’ve lived through those valleys for a number of years, you start to think about ways of producing income that aren’t tied to brokerage, to smooth out those hills and valleys,” said Searle.

“We have a real respect for each other. We value each other’s opinions. That’s part of the reason for the merger – we don’t necessarily think the same way so our creativity is increased, because there are always more ideas coming out of meetings with four of us than there are out of meetings with two of us. This merger will bring a different perspective, as well as more experience and views, to what we do and that will be good for our customers.”

Riner said the existing Wetzel Aviation company had increased its year-on-year returns “for a number of years now” and had become a significant player in the ISR world due to its diversification. It had started a parts business and would continue to increase its footprint within aircraft components. Its newest venture would be in commercial aviation, particularly large-cabin VIP aircraft.

“It’s where our teaming partners are coming to us for additional support,” he said. “We see an opportunity there and will look to grow our business [with it].”

Riner and Searle added that the two companies share the same values of integrity, honesty, professionalism and a passion for aviation. “It’s important that we’re serving our customers well and that we’re enjoying the work we’re doing,” said Riner.

Pictured (l-r) are Bryon Mobley, Jack Wetzel, Patrick Searle, and Jim Riner.