If you build a hangar, the airplanes will come.
That’s been the experience of Mahlon Richards, founder and president of Richmor Aviation, whose company will nearly double its hangar space for business aircraft at the Schenectady County Airport with a new 20,000-square-foot hangar.
Work on the $1.2 million building started six weeks ago.
“It seems like every time we build a hangar, even though we don’t have customers waiting for the hangar, when we build it, it seems like the customers come,” Richards said Thursday following a “steel up” ceremony at the construction site. “It’s certainly a big motivation for us to build something and have people come.”
Richards also said he has confidence in the Capital Region because of the economic activity surrounding General Electric, GlobalFoundries, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and others.
“Things seem to be happening here,” he said. “There seems to be a lot of development, a lot of new activity, and we’re hoping that as a result of that there’s more people that are buying airplanes.”
James Valachovic, Richmor’s chief financial officer, said the new hangar will likely mean more jobs to meet the demands of new customers, though he couldn’t say how many. Richmor Aviation currently employs about 25 people in Glenville.
“Like anything, as the activity increases, we will then be able to support it, because these people are time-sensitive and are mission-sensitive,” he said.
Glenville town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the investment will help improve “one of the premier gateways” to the county and the town.
“This is truly a transformative project here for us in the town of Glenville,” he said.
As part of the expansion, in August 2013, Richmor renewed its lease with the county for 20 years with two five-year extension options. The annual rent started at $102,438, up from $54,291, and will increase 3 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is higher, each year.
Factoring in a 20 percent increase in tie-down fees and increased fee revenue on increased fuel sales, the county expected to boost its annual revenue from Richmor by 66 percent — from $102,438 to $170,000 — in the first year.
The last lease was due to be up in 2020, but that wasn’t enough time for Richmor to finance the project, said Ray Gillen, Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority chairman.
“It’s more funding for the county and it allows for the construction of the new hangar to go forward,” he said.
The new hangar is being built by Plank Construction of Schenectady and is scheduled to be completed in September, said Dick Schlansker, Plank’s vice president of business development. The project has created about 25 construction jobs.
Richmor currently occupies 64,000 square feet at the airport, 14,000 of which is used to hold business jets. The rest is used for offices, smaller airplanes and classroom space for Schenectady County Community College’s aviation program.
The new space, which brings Richmor’s occupancy to 84,000 square feet, will hold up to four business aircraft, which measure about 60 feet long with wingspans of about 70 feet. The new hangar is being built on the former location of Richmor’s parking lot, and Plank Construction built a new lot in the fall to accommodate the project. The county also installed water and sewer lines near the site.
Richmor has been the fixed-base operator at the Schenectady County Airport since 1975 and also serves as the fixed-base operator for the Kingston-Ulster Airport in Kingston. Founded in 1967 and based in Hudson at the Columbia County Airport, Richmor offers executive charter aircraft service with a fleet of nine business aircraft and also operates the largest flight school in the Northeast.