Avionics News May 2012 - 32
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not have gotten had we not bought AFS.” Park Rapids is in the northwest corner of Minnesota. Home to 3,709 people, it is the gateway to Itasca State Park, where the Mississippi River starts its journey south. Situated among a dense splattering of lakes that cover the bosky prairie, the seat of Hubbard County is the hub for recreation and resorts. With 34 based aircraft, all but one single-engine pistons, and two runways, one asphalt and one grass, Konshok Field is the state’s fifth busiest jet airport. Parks Rapids Aviation is the full-service fixed base operator. The world’s largest dealer and installer of Aerocet floats, it specializes in the Cessna 182 “Sealane” conversion. Northwoods Aircraft Painting is another part of its operation. Like Park Rapids Avionics/ Approach Fast Stack, Riveland Interiors is an independent business, but they collaborate to provide their services and save customers downtime, whenever possible. Custom instrument panels are a Park Rapids Avionics specialty. Hass does the computer-aided design work. Initially, he outsourced the CNC cutting, but “when time constraints and demand made the investment practical,” the shop got its own CNC machine, and then the equipment needed to power coat panels. Installing in-flight entertainment systems is another specialty. He calls it a “pretty small” aspect of the shop’s business. “It varies. You go along for two years and not do one, and then, all of a sudden, you’ll do three in a year,” he said. “We’ll get a King Air that wants something in the cabin, (and we’ve done) a half-dozen small jets.” ParkRapidsAvionics.com promotes the company’s “specialties” because some shops don’t want to deal with experimental aircraft or entertainment systems, Hass said. Ultimately, “Park Rapids Avionics ‘specializes’ in whatever the customer wants, and we’re not scared to tackle anything.” This sentiment could also describe his life. Hass grew up in Audubon, Minn., a whistle stop on the Northern Pacific Railroad named for the famed naturalist. Founded in 1872, the town of 519 is 45 miles west of Park Rapids. After his 1983 high school graduation, Hass moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he farmed and worked construction. In 1991, he entered the two-year avionics program at the Alexandria Technical and Community College, 80 miles south of Audubon. After school, he was a tech for JetSun Aviation Centre
ACA avionics tech Todd Metcalf mounts an Approach Fast Stack hub.
in Sioux City, Iowa. In 1999, the Hass family moved to Lincoln, Neb., where he set up the avionics shop at Silverhawk Aviation. In 2001, he decided to start his own shop, an FAA repair station with Radio Class I, II and III ratings, in Park Rapids. The work soon surpassed one man’s available hours, so his brother began his avionics apprenticeship the following year. Today, not counting Tom and Tim, the company has a dozen employees, with five at AFS. The brothers agree that extending the Park Rapids Avionics brand with Approach Fast Stack was a carefully considered risk and has paid off better than they calculated. Business for both brands has grown slow and steady since they made the decision, thus delivering on its primary goal, and the economy has not slowed the number of phone calls it receives. q
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