Clovis, California, April 16…Rogers Helicopters, one of the country’s leading aerial firefighting specialists, is now emerging as a major provider of services to the gas and electric utility industry which relies increasingly on helicopters for power line installations and other construction projects.
“Although we are still committed to firefighting, we decided to pursue the utility and construction markets in order to increase the amount of year-round work opportunities, as well as to invigorate and grow our company,” said Robin Rogers, Vice-President of the 50-year-old, Clovis (Fresno), California-based helicopter services company. “Aerial firefighting is still mostly a seasonal (business) and in some years the fire seasons are more active than others; but utility work adds other opportunities that are available year-round in the Continental US, as well as Alaska and Hawaii.”
The decision to diversify the company’s services portfolio has resulted in a 25 percent increase in sales from construction related work in 2011, and a major shift in its revenue base. According to Rogers, as recently as 2010, some 65 percent of the operator’s business came from US Forest Service firefighting contracts. “Last year, it was 35 percent, with 65 percent attributed to construction and charter,” he said.
The shift in the revenue base was supported by a major fleet expansion over the past 12 months, with the acquisition of eight helicopters, including two Bell 206L3 Long Rangers, four McDonnell Douglas MD500Es, and two McDonnell Douglas MD530F++ models. Rogers reported that the eight helicopters will support electric and gas utility construction projects. In addition, two Bell 407s were purchased to replace a Eurocopter Twin Star and an Agusta 109K2 for the company’s air ambulance business.
Rogers said that the company’s strategy is to “cultivate a balance of accounts” in order to decrease dependence on any one business line. In that regard, Rogers Helicopters took a major step toward expanding its fixed wing charter business with the purchase of a Cessna Citation Ultra—its first business jet—slated for a June delivery.
Rogers Helicopters was founded in 1962 by Harry Rogers with a single Hiller UH-12E, and is a member of the American Helicopter Services & Aerial Firefighting Association (AHSAFA), a Washington-based trade association representing commercial operators of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft engaged in aerial wildland firefighting. END