Biz Buzz: Aviation company spreads its wings

A San Luis Obispo company is marking its official expansion into Paso Robles as the chosen full-service fuel operator at Paso Robles Municipal Airport.

Aviation Consultants Inc. will continue services that businessman David Weyrich left behind when his Paso Robles Jet Center was evicted in April for not paying the lease and for having poor reliability of the fuel supply.

ACI will also take on the Paso Robles Jet Center name because, as a generic term, “jet center” implies the services offered, company President Bill Borgsmiller said.

The Paso Robles City Council unanimously approved ACI’s business proposal at its Dec. 7 meeting. Lease negotiations are expected to begin in January, followed by a specific move-in date.

ACI will provide a selection of pilot “concierge services,” such as power, fuel and maintenance as well as arranging any catering service requests and ground transportation. The firm, which has 63 employees, was one of five applicants vying for the contract.

The selection committee, composed of Councilmen Ed Steinbeck and John Hamon, screened the companies and interviewed their leadership to assess management experience and the firms’ prospects for success at the airport.

“We need someone in there that can pitch Paso Robles as a stopping spot,” said Hamon, a pilot.

ACI will work out of the 18,000-square-foot operator building on-site as the sole leaseholder and plans to sublease the remaining space.

“We’d really like to see a flight school be a tenant there. We think that’s the start,” Borgsmiller said of ways to attract new energy to the airport. “We’d be interested in a small charter operator, too.”

Paso Robles Municipal Airport serves as a base for CHP helicopters and firefighting tankers and is a frequent stop for military aircraft. It is also used for private planes.

ACI also provides aircraft management and private jet charters at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, where it broke ground on a $10 million, multiphase corporate jet center early this year.

Part of the ramp at its new corporate jet center is already built with planes using it, Borgsmiller said. A 36,000-square-foot hangar and maintenance facility is under construction and expected to open in July.

The privately held company, which runs the San Luis Jet Center, providing aircraft ground support and fuel service at the airport, brought in “a little less” than $25 million in sales in 2009, Borgsmiller said. He declined to disclose annual profits.

When asked how ACI is expanding in the economic downturn, Borgsmiller cited a combination of saving money and taking advantage of the lower building costs in today’s markets.

— Tonya Strickland

Journal: Poly among best in architecture

An annual report by DesignIntelligence, a bi-monthly journal based out of Washington, D.C., named Cal Poly one of the Best Public Undergraduate Architecture Schools in the nation, alongside Virginia Tech.

The 12th annual Survey of Architecture Deans and Department Heads tallies the opinions of academic leaders who weigh in on their peers’ academic institutions as well as their own.

Cal Poly ranked third overall behind Cornell, Syracuse and Rice universities.

This is the fourth straight year that Cal Poly’s architecture program has earned the top honor for the Construction Methods and Materials category.

— Stacy Daniel