A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower
Great things come when people work together. That’s how it’s always been for Mid-America Aerotech.
Formerly a subsidiary of Moog (a worldwide aerospace defense and manufacturing company), Mid-America Aerotech was originally founded as a maintenance/repair station for commercial and military aircraft. The company has been widely successful since the very beginning, growing into a multimillion-dollar FAA and EASA approved repair station and continuously expanding their services, knowledge, and expertise. When the Coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in March of 2020, many businesses across the nation were forced to get creative. This brought a new opportunity to the table for Mid-America Aerotech.
Cold spray involves accelerating metal powder and spraying onto a surface to create a cohesive bond
In the height of the pandemic, Mid-America Aerotech was approached by VRC Metal Systems, a South Dakota-based company specializing in cold spray technology. Cold spray is a solid-state materials deposition process which accelerates metal powder through a specialized nozzle at Mach 2 speeds using electrically heated pressurized gases such as helium, nitrogen or even compressed air. The metal particles then deposit onto a surface through plastic deformation creating a highly cohesive bond which makes this process ideal for any metal, metal alloy or metal blend repairs where corrosion or wear are present.
Cold spray derived its name because the temperatures used are below the material’s melting point, which is unlike other thermal spray processes, resulting in a preferred option for many aerospace applications such as skin panels, wheels, castings, gear boxes, and other items that cannot be repaired using traditional welding methods.
Mid-America Aerotech had recently expanded into cold spray repairs and VRC Metal Systems saw a potential growth opportunity for both businesses.
“The aircraft industry took a significant hit due to COVID-19, which was Mid-America Aerotech’s primary business activity. We began looking for opportunities to shift our focus and maybe grow in a new way during that time. It really took off from there…”
– Robert Hrabe, CEO of VRC Metal Systems
The two businesses began discussing how they could work together, especially during the current economic conditions. In 2020, they decided to take this opportunity to grow their partnership: VRC Metal Systems would acquire Mid-America Aerotech and, together, they would become the #1 cold spray company in the nation. The only problem? They were not in a financial position to do so.
After getting in touch with their banker, the companies were introduced to Dakota Business Lending and utilized the SBA 504 loan program. This program allowed VRC Metal Systems to get the financing they needed to purchase Mid-America Aerotech’s location in West Fargo, ND at a fixed, below-market interest rate, lower down payment, and longer terms. It was a win-win-win for all.
“This was a fantastic opportunity, primarily because of the people involved. Both companies have very experienced employees with expertise in cold spray technology and the aviation business. Not only did this acquisition increase our ability to serve the aerospace industry, but it doubled our knowledge and capabilities, making us the #1 cold spray company in the nation. It was a really good fit on both sides.”
Today, Mid-America Aerotech has 15 employees, each averaging 20+ years’ experience in the aviation and cold spray industries. The company has worked closely with Senator Hoeven’s office to assist military branches with improving and repairing their aircrafts and other weapon system components. They also sponsor several military non-profits and charities throughout the community of Fargo and state of North Dakota and give back to those who have showed them continued support throughout the years.
Above all, it is truly about the people at Mid-America Aerotech. “We’ve been fortunate to attract even more highly talented employees and filling our company with a wide range of knowledge and expertise,” Rob shared. “We have a lot of talented people behind the company that do everything they can to make it successful.” For Rob, working with this incredible team is what’s most rewarding.
Rob is amazed at the ways in which the community and the broader state of North Dakota has come together to support Mid-America Aerotech and help them grow. He highly encourages other entrepreneurs to tap into this strong and supportive network.
“There are so many people across North Dakota that are willing to go out of their way to help you succeed. Don’t be afraid to network with your community, ask questions, and tell them your story. The Fargo community was a dream to work with and it’s made the world of a difference for Mid-America Aerotech…we just want others to experience that too.”
VRC Metal Systems was recently awarded the Large Business of the Year in Rapid City, SD and received the SBA Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year Award in 2021, as well as several innovation awards and multiple Inc. 500 recognitions as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the U.S.
For more information on Mid-America Aerotech and cold spray technology, visit their website.
This article was written by Dakota Business Lending with permission from Mid-America Aerotech and is not to be edited or redistributed without permission.