North State Aviation

North State Aviation

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Update Video: North State Aviation

Published June 11, 2015 In 2009 the North State Aviation partners needed help securing a $3.9 million financing package to get the business up and running. They have received what they call “unwavering” support from the SBTDC. Today, North State Aviation has 385 full-time employees, and according to analyses that could mean up to $40 million per year for the local economy. See the video below for details.

NEWS RELEASE: SBTDC Client North State Aviation Celebrates Milestone with United Airlines

Published November 19, 2014


After launching in January 2011 with just 25 employees, this month North State Aviation (NSA) celebrated the completion of their 300th plane maintained and/or repaired for United Airlines. The NC SBTDC played a pivotal role in putting together financials for the deal, which North State Aviation CEO Charlie Creech acknowledged during a celebratory event on November 6th. In 2011 North State Aviation worked on just 11 planes. In the 4 years since then, they have worked on over 400 airplanes and have 35 contracts including their major partnership with United Airlines, who praised NSA for its “rich culture” and impressive performance against their key focus areas of quality, delivery, and cost. NSA now has 383 employees (365 full-time and 18 part-time), including 100 veterans and a payroll of $14 million. North State Aviation has been honored as one of the top 50 employers in Forsyth County, and boasts an economic impact of $32 million annually in the Winston-Salem area.  

Boosting North Carolina’s Economy: North State Aviation

This client profile is from the SBTDC’s 2010-2011 Annual Report.

north state

“[The SBTDC] worked untold hours to make the deal happen, and now we’re in for a big future.”

For over 60 years, Piedmont Airlines was the backbone of the Winston-Salem community. The airline grew from one of the smallest to one of the nation’s most successful airlines, and it was common in the community to have worked for Piedmont or know someone who had.

Charlie Creech, Jim McPhail and Russ Kota were among the proud employees of Piedmont Airlines and one of its successors, Pace Airlines. At its peak, Pace was successfully running a charter airline and a heavy maintenance facility concentrating on Boeing 737s. But when Pace was sold in 2009, the men were promptly dismissed and had to watch from the sidelines as the new owners restructured and eventually closed their doors.

While saddened by Pace’s demise, Charlie, Jim and Russ saw an opportunity to revitalize the workforce that was so essential to their community. They teamed with mentor and attorney Howard Williams and discovered that a reorganization of Pace was not possible; however, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was willing to help accelerate the certification process for a new company with this level of expertise. With that, North State Aviation (NSA) was born – with a little help.

North StateThe team met with Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco and Scott Daugherty, Executive Director of the SBTDC, to get started and begin raising money. That’s when SBTDC business counselor Barry Phillips was asked to help. “Barry came on the scene and helped develop the model for our business plan. He worked untold hours to make the deal happen, and now we’re in for a big future.” Barry assisted in developing a business plan with complex financial projections and went with the team to meet with banks and investors. They were successful in obtaining financing from the state, the airport and private investors. The Golden Leaf Foundation provided funds to the Winston-Salem Airport Authority, which was used to purchase and lease necessary equipment to NSA.

Meanwhile, the vacant space that had been Piedmont’s headquarters was burdening the Winston-Salem Airport Authority (owner of Smith Reynolds Airport) with a negative economic impact. There was no one else interested in the building, so it was important to the Airport Authority for NSA to be successful. The deal was nothing but win-win, and provides the perfect opportunity for NSA to replenish what had been lost in the community.

The day NSA announced its arrival, they received 200 applications. “People had to leave this area and they really want to come home; they know what it was like to work here.” People are NSA’s most important asset, and it is obvious in the pride and joy exuded by the management team. Their goal is to grow to 300 employees over the next 4-5 years.

“We are very appreciative. Barry’s help and that of the folks at the state were essential to this project. Without them, we would not have been able to put it together.”