Epps Aviation at PDK sold to national firm

Ninety-eight-year-old World War II veteran Ken Will & Pilot John P. Cyrier taxi after a ride in a 1943 Boeing Stearman bi-plane at PDK Airport. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Ninety-eight-year-old World War II veteran Ken Will & Pilot John P. Cyrier taxi after a ride in a 1943 Boeing Stearman bi-plane at PDK Airport. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Epps Aviation, a family-owned aviation services company at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport run by the descendants of Georgia aviation pioneer Ben Epps, is being sold to a national firm.

With a planned acquisition by SAR Trilogy Management, an aviation investment firm whose subsidiary runs Aero Center locations, Epps Aviation will be renamed Aero Center-Epps Atlanta. The deal is expected to close in about 45 days, subject to regulatory approvals.

Epps Aviation was founded in 1965 by Pat Epps — son of Ben Epps, who flew the first airplane in Georgia and is the namesake for the Athens-Ben Epps Airport.

Ben Epps stands in front of his Athens shop with the second of the airplanes that he and Zumpt Huff constructed. This one never flew. The handwritten inscription led to much misunderstanding about the the date of the photograph. CONTRIBUTED BY HARGRETT LIBRARY; WITH PERMISSION OF BEN T. EPPS FAMILY

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Pat Epps continues to own the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant at PDK. Pat’s daughters have helped run Epps Aviation in recent years.

Marian Epps, chief financial officer of Epps Aviation, said after her father retired a few years ago, “as part of our succession plan we were looking for somebody to take the business to the next level and for the future.”

“We had a number of people who were interested in acquiring the business, and we felt SAR Trilogy was the best fit for our employees, for the family and for the aviation community in Atlanta,” said Marian Epps. “They really appreciate the legacy of the Epps family in aviation and want to continue it. They’re keeping all of our memorabilia (in place). So it will be a very familiar business going forward.”

Michael Scheeringa, managing director of SAR Trilogy Management, said Epps Aviation’s roughly 150 employees will be retained under the new ownership. Epps has a “fantastic industry reputation,” Scheeringa said.

At PDK, Epps Aviation has a terminal, main hangar, four maintenance/avionics hangars, five corporate aircraft hangars, 40 smaller hangars and a fuel farm. As a fixed-base operator, it offers aircraft fueling, maintenance, charters, hangar space, aircraft management, sales and other services. It’s one of a few fixed-based operators at PDK, along with locations run by national firms Atlantic Aviation and Signature Flight Support.

The Epps location at PDK will join other Aero Centers in Lakeland, Florida and Wilmington, North Carolina, along with planned Aero Center FBO locations in Casper, Wyoming; Spokane, Washington; and Tallahassee, Florida.

With the Epps acquisition, Aero Centers are gaining a major aircraft maintenance location, as well as gaining entry into new lines of business in aircraft management and charters that could expand to other locations. The Epps location is significantly larger than Aero Centers’ other FBOs — making it “a cornerstone, or a crown jewel to the Aero Center portfolio,” Scheeringa said. The parties declined to disclose the value of the sale.

Marian Epps and her sister Elaine Epps will stay on board for a transition period, and will keep their Bonanza airplanes at the PDK location. When asked what they will do next, Marian Epps said Epps Aviation has been “the focal point of our lives since childhood. .... so now we will have the time to think about that.”