Butler National works to expand

Butler National Corp. is expanding its sales and marketing efforts to grow its modification, maintenance, repair and overhaul business, the company said.

Olathe-based Butler has facilities in Newton, where it operates Avcon Industrials.

Butler is targeting the growing commercial aircraft industry to expand its products and offerings, Butler vice president Chris Reedy said.

Butler announced that it has added Robert Olson, former Boeing executive in global sales and training, to lead the new effort. For Boeing, Olson developed and sold Stage Three noise reduction systems and winglet and performance enhancement systems for Boeing 727 and 737 classic aircraft.

Adding work on the commercial aircraft segment would grow Butler's two Kansas sites, Reedy said. Modifications would take place in Olathe, and parts would be made in Newton, he said.

Avcon concentrates on modifications, maintenance, repair and overhaul of business aircraft and turboprops, primarily used for special mission purposes.

"We've got a pretty recognizable position in that market," Reedy said.

As sales grow, so will employment, he said.

Butler employs about 50 people in Newton; about 30 work in the aviation division at its Olathe headquarters. It recently acquired King Avionics in Olathe, where it employs 15.

The company is always looking for good engineers, Reedy said. But as sales expand in the air transport part of the business, the company would need additional technicians, mechanics and others to support it.

"It's a matter of timing," Reedy said.

The company has been fortunate during the downturn and did not experience a dip in business because of its niche market and aggressive pursuit of international business, he said.

"We have had no layoffs," Reedy said. "We have basically stayed very productive."

One of its niches is the ability to modify Hawker Beechcraft King Airs and Bombardier Learjets and Challengers to add aerial photography capabilities for customers wanting to do mapping, he said.

Avcon also performs other custom modifications on business and cargo-like aircraft such as conversion to air ambulance, passenger-to-freighter configurations, stability-enhancing modifications for Learjets, and other special-mission modifications.

Avcon holds more than 250 Supplemental Type Certificates, or STCs, required by the Federal Aviation Administration that allow modifications to be done in conformity with FAA safety requirements.