West Star Aviation to spend $5.8 million on expansion in East Alton

By Greta Weiderman

West Star Aviation officials plan to invest $15 million this year building more facilities in East Alton, Ill., Grand Junction, Colo., and Columbia, S.C., adding 160,000 square feet of space.

At its location at St. Louis Regional Airport in East Alton, the aviation service provider is planning to spend $5.8 million to add 67,000 square feet to its existing 250,000 square feet of facilities.

Construction is set to begin this week on a $5 million, 47,000-square-foot maintenance facility, to be built by Edwardsville, Ill.-based Contegra Construction Co. A 14,000-square-foot wood shop and a 6,000-square-foot accessory repairs shop will be added to existing buildings the company leases from St. Louis Regional Airport, according to Rodger Renaud, general manager of West Star Aviation in East Alton.

The company, which has added about 40 employees in East Alton in the past year, plans to increase its employee base there from 266 to 300, adding around 40 mechanic jobs that pay $29 to $30 an hour, or around $60,000 a year plus overtime, Renaud said.

On May 6, the company shifted about 13 of its 17 employees who worked in Chesterfield to its East Alton operations, as it moved some services from Chesterfield to East Alton, including the King Air, Beechjet, Premier and Hawker manufacturer-authorized service centers.

West Star also plans to sell its small maintenance, repair and operations facility in Dallas to Waypoint Holding, a financial holdings and services company, in a deal set to close June 1. Terms were not disclosed. The deal was announced about two months ago, Renaud said.

West Star, based in East Alton, specializes in airframe repair and maintenance, engine repair and maintenance, major modifications, avionics installation and repair, interior refurbishment, paint, parts, surplus avionics sales, window repair and accessory services. It has a total of 630 employees and was formed in 2004 when Premier Air in East Alton acquired West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, Colo. West Star is owned by private investors, and the company doesn’t disclose revenue.