Photo:Showalter Flying Service in Orlando.
Central Florida Roundup
Orlando aviation company is flying into the sunset
Fixed-base operator Showalter Flying Service can't keep up with the big boys.
For nearly three-quarters of a century, the Showalter name has been synonymous with aviation in Orlando.
The family-owned Showalter Flying Service was founded in 1945 along a grass strip in Winter Park by Howard Showalter, a brother and a cousin. It grew into a fixed-base operation at Orlando Executive Airport, with 28 employees and revenue of nearly $8 million, overseen by the husbandand- wife team of Bob and Kim Showalter, Howard's son and daughter-in-law.
The business changed dramatically over the years. Where Showalter once spent most of its time renting airplanes and teaching people to fly, it became what is essentially a marina for airplanes — selling fuel and hangar space and operating a terminal for use by private-plane passengers and crew.
Meanwhile, the industry consolidated around Showalter. The other three fixed-base operations in Orlando — one at the executive airport, two more at Orlando International Airport — are all now owned by chains. The bulked-up competitors gained cost advantages through economies of scale.
"What's really happened is the same thing that happened in the hotel business: They're all becoming Marriotts and Hiltons and Hyatts," says Bob Showalter.
So the Showalters decided to sell. The company announced in December that it had agreed to a deal with Atlantic Aviation, the nation's largest fixed-based operator, which has operations at 63 airports and revenue of more than $700 million. Atlantic itself is a subsidiary of New York industrial giant Macquarie Infrastructure.
Bob Showalter says the sale price is "at the high end of what the family thought it would be," though he wouldn't reveal a precise figure. He said he expects Atlantic will absorb Showalter's existing employees, many of whom have been with the company for decades.
As for the Showalter name? "They'll use it for a while," Bob Showalter says. "But it will eventually just be Atlantic."
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DELAND - Sonntec Electronics Recycling leased nearly 26,000 square feet of warehouse space with rail access.
LAKE BUENA VISTA - Walt Disney World will redo "The Great Movie Ride," one of the original attractions in its Disney's
Walt Disney World chose Tracey Powell as vice president of deluxe resorts, a newly created position within its hotel business. Powell had been vice president of revenue management and analytics, global initiatives and integration.
NBCUniversal replaced longtime general manager Michael Black of the Wet 'n Wild water park with Jeff Polk, who has been with Universal for 25 years. The company says the move was aimed at more fully integrating the water park with the rest of Universal Parks & Resorts, which is based in Orlando.
The University of Central Florida College of Medicine named Griffith Parks director of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. Parks had been chairman of the department of microbiology and immunology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina.
Elena Norman, vice president of communications for timeshare company Hilton Grand Vacations, was elected chairman of the board for the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Hollywood Studios theme park, as part of new deal with Turner Classic Movies.
MAITLAND - Lynx, the region's bus agency, began a van service linking the Maitland Center office complex, one of the city's biggest employment centers, with its SunRail station in hopes of boosting ridership on the commuter train. The state and Orange County will split the cost of the shuttle for one year.
OCOEE - Health Central Hospital, part of Orlando Health, will add 40 rooms, increasing its total from 171 to 211.
ORANGE COUNTY - A Texas-based developer bought 1,200 acres of ranchland in east Orange County for $15 million with plans for as many as 2,000 residential units and 100,000 square feet of commercial space. > A judge ruled that Orange County must disclose the IP addresses of computers with access to a Dropbox account used by Mayor Teresa Jacobs. The county had balked at turning over the addresses in response to a public-records request from an advocacy group.
ORLANDO - The University of Central Florida's planned campus downtown could cost $210 million and be ready to open by fall 2017, according to a consultant's report commissioned by the university. > Nearly 4 million international passengers passed through Orlando International Airport during the airport's 2014 fiscal year, a 5.2% increase and a new annual record. Total airport traffic rose 1.25% to nearly 35 million. > Highwoods Properties of Raleigh, N.C., bought the 16-story Lincoln Plaza office tower downtown for $68.3 million. > Accounting firm Moore Stephens Lovelace will move its headquarters and about 50 employees from Winter Park to the Citrus Center tower in downtown. > Vacation-booking firm StaySky Vacations leased the final 13,000 square feet in the Kirman Point Office Park, one of the few office buildings in Orlando that began construction during the real estate crash. > Orlando Health and Medical Center Radiology Group together purchased Diagnostic Imagining, an Orlando-based outpatient diagnostic center with five locations in the region. Terms were not disclosed. > City Office REIT bought a 124,500-sq.-ft. office building leased to Kaplan University for $26.5 million. > SeaWorld Entertainment was sued over its use of automatic renewals for customers who buy annual passes through a monthly payment plan. > Solodev, an Orlando-based web developer, will add 25 jobs. The company will receive $300,000 in tax incentives. > FedEx will build a 300,000-sq.- ft. Distribution center in the Orlando area. It's expected to create about 160 jobs.
PALM BAY - Nemours Children's Health System opened a general pediatrics office.
SANFORD - After nearly 40 years in operation, the owners of the Flea World open-air mall are planning to redevelop their property into a mixed-use development with residential, retail and office space. > City leaders hope to partner with a private company to develop about three blocks of mostly cityowned waterfront property. A conceptual plan calls for six homes and 50 town homes, along with office and retail space, a 90-room hotel and a garage, with construction potentially beginning by the end of this year.