In 1999, Jeff Voigt purchased a fixed base operation (FBO) in Park Rapids, Minnesota, and would soon establish Park Rapids Aviation as one of the only aircraft maintenance facilities of its kind in the upper Midwest. Initially, the facility was focused on aircraft maintenance and float modifications, but Voigt’s vision was to become a full-service refurbishment center for all types of aircraft, from small four-seat aircraft to light jets. With that goal in mind, he acquired a paint facility located at the Park Rapids Airport (KPKD) in 2001.
Although Voigt and his team of painters turned out great work from their old paint booth (which had been used to paint aircraft in the ‘80s and ‘90s), the booth had poor ventilation and it was difficult to control the painting environment. Since a full aircraft refurb job typically takes between 300 and 600 hours under the best conditions, time spent on buffing and rework became increasingly expensive. With efficiency in mind, Voigt began looking at new paint booth options a few years ago. He says that Park Rapids Aviation had reached its painting capacity and they were spending a lot of time and money on rework. Voigt said he “had to decide to fully get into painting or quit doing it.” Because providing aircraft paint services along with maintenance, interior refurbishment and avionics is key for customers looking for a full aircraft refurb, the search commenced for a booth that was large enough to meet the facility’s needs.
In the case of Park Rapids Aviation, bigger was better. Voigt selected Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) as his paint booth provider and worked closely with GFS to create the perfect solution for his business – one that was large enough to meet his needs but was still within the budget and scope of his vision. After breaking ground in August 2016, work progressed very quickly to build the 65 feet wide, 65 feet deep and 19 feet high standalone paint booth from the ground up. Despite its impressive proportions, Voigt says that “GFS stuck to the schedule they laid out and the installation went very smoothly.” Park Rapids Aviation’s new aircraft paint booth was finished and ready for use by Dec. 1, 2016.
Now that the new GFS paint booth has been in use for several months, Voigt feels that it has helped push Park Rapids Aviation into higher-end markets while simultaneously allowing them to work at a greater capacity. “This business draws people in,” Voigt says. “When people come to our facility with their aircraft, they see this new, very impressive booth and feel confident having Park Rapids Aviation do the paint and refurbishment work.” Voigt hopes to continue expanding into the light jet market and is even considering increasing his shop hours to two shifts and seven days a week to match the demand for Park Rapids Aviation’s services with the new paint booth’s capabilities.