Questions for Steven Levesque


In 2010, Steven Levesque teamed with veteran FBO executive Bill Koch and investment firm Moelis Capital Partners to build a nationwide chain of “boutique” fixed-base operations. Levesque was well qualified for the task, bringing a background in both industry mergers, including leading the merger of Piedmont Hawthorne with Garret Aviation Services, as well as a background in finance, serving with Bank of America and Hawthorne Investment Banking. His training is in finance with a degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree from The Citadel. While serving as a U.S. Naval officer in the early 1990s, he was assigned to the USS Carr, participating in Middle East Force deployment, counter narcotics and various other operations. While his active duty service ended in 1992, he spent the next 20 years in the U.S. Navy Reserve, rising to the rank of Commander, serving as Commanding Officer of an expeditionary combat logistics battalion.

1.  You have built a foundation for a chain now with five facilities.  What are your long-term plans?

Levesque: We started the year with two and added facilities in Chicago, Atlanta and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We would like to grow to 15 or 20 facilities. But we want to grow smartly and in the right way.  We are not in a rush.  We have looked at a lot more than we have attempted to acquire.

2.  What do you look for in a potential acquisition?

Levesque: We are primarily looking for line-focused FBOs that provide customized service. The FBOs typically sell at least a million gallons of jet fuel and are in a growth area. We want to have a standard of service, or the ability to bring the facility up to our standard of service, and we want the facilities to support their surrounding areas. 

3.  Are there regions where you are looking to grow?

Levesque: The FBOs are in major markets, but not necessarily at the primary airport in that market. They are in growth areas. We like to be where our customers travel. Clearly we would like to expand to the West Coast, but we have to be a little opportunistic about what is available.

4.  In building the chain, does the having the name Hawthorne, with its long history, help provide brand recognition?

Levesque: It helps to have built-in brand recognition, particularly with experienced crews. We want to build a culture of service throughout the Hawthorne network. But we also would like to capture the heritage of the facilities we acquire. Some have been family operations. We would like to build on that family heritage and the relationships that come with that. The industry has moved toward a more corporate feel. We want to focus on client relations.

5.  With business jets growing larger, how important is hangar space in your network?

Levesque: It’s important. We realize the specifications are changing and we are trying to meet their needs. Moelis has embraced this idea and supports the necessary investment. In Chicago, we designed the hangar to accommodate the Gulfstream G650. The Atlanta facility has more than 500,000 sq. ft. of hangar space, and we are currently adding a hangar at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York, that is capable of handling a BBJ.

(2014, December 29). Questions for Steven Levesque. Business & Commercial Aviation. Retrieved December 29, 2014, from