24-Oct-2013 Source: First West Capital
For the past 27 years, British Columbian residents and tourists alike have likely heard of, or used Helijet, a locally based and operated aviation company that offers regularly scheduled flights between Vancouver and Victoria. Since its establishment, Helijet has steadily grown its business and recently they sought out the expertise and funding from First West Capital as they prepare to expand their business.
Over the years, the company has grown from a single helicopter to three primary lines of business: air medical services, charter services, and scheduled helicopter services. Notably, the company grew revenues through these three core business lines by more than 21 per cent over 2011. As Danny Sitnam, President and CEO of Helijet shares, “By focusing our energy into our three main lines of business and implementing various cost control measures, we’ve been able to progressively increase our revenue. However, we knew we needed to seek external financing as we look to pursue more ambitious growth targets in the next few years.”
Enter First West Capital. “We were first introduced to First West Capital through our contacts in Toronto,” says Sitnam. “They recommended them because they are a well-recognized sub-debt lender. This was further validated when we approached other financing organizations in the Lower Mainland—First West Capital’s name just kept coming up over and over again.”
“We had a well-defined list of objectives and qualities that our lender needed to meet because we were looking for a lending partner who understood our needs, not just from a lending point of view, but also from a business perspective,” adds Sitnam. “We needed someone who was willing to work with Helijet not just for this particular deal but on a go-forward basis—someone who understood our industry, was fair with their pricing and balanced security requirements with our shareholder concerns.”
“First West Capital required a very thorough due diligence process which actually benefitted us in a number of ways,” shares Sitnam. “Their detail-oriented nature also enabled them to become very knowledgeable about the Rotary Wing aviation sector.”
Robert Napoli, vice-president of First West Capital, shares, “Helijet is a highly reputable and industry leading company that’s well-known for its impeccable safety record and service. The fact that they have been a valued service provider to BC Ambulance for a number of years demonstrates their standing in our province. For First West Capital, it’s a great opportunity to partner with a first-class aviation company that serves our communities so well.”
Napoli continues, “Danny and the Helijet management team have been great to work with throughout this deal. I’m confident that their new financing structure with First West Capital, BMO Bank of Montreal and Roynat will position Helijet well for continued growth in the coming years.”
“We believe there’s great growth potential for our company and are we’re looking forward to working with First West Capital to realize this potential,” adds Sitnam. “The relationship thus far has been remarkable and certainly exceeded our expectations. First West Capital, and in particular, Robert, have become true partners with Helijet.”
Sitnam concludes, “What sets First West Capital apart is that they’ve continued to nurture our partnership post funding. They didn’t just fund our business and then move on to other lending opportunities. Robert has continued to follow up with us to see how things are going, to learn more about industry developments and future growth opportunities—things that truly differentiate First West Capital from other lenders in the market.”
Established in 1986, with a carefully conceived vision, a single helicopter, and a handful of enthusiastic employees, Helijet launched Canada’s first scheduled helicopter service. From that single helicopter, flying eight times a day between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria, Helijet has grown into a dynamic publicly-traded company with operations in Richmond, Vancouver, Victoria, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii. Helijet’s fleet of 13 medium and large helicopters, as well as two medically-equipped Learjets, is maintained, flown and administered by a dedicated group of over 135 professionals. For more information, visit www.helijet.com.
About First West Capital
First West Capital is a division of First West Credit Union, and is a $100 million fund established to provide subordinated debt and mezzanine financing to small- and medium-sized businesses. Led by Kristi Miller and Robert Napoli, the First West Capital team has more than 25 years of commercial lending experience including 18 years in subordinated debt financing. With on-the-ground knowledge of Western Canadian markets, First West Capital has the advantages of speed and flexibility. For more information, visitwww.firstwestcapital.ca.