Originally created 12/13/00

Repair shop moves in at airport



Abbas Naghibzadeh needed some new space. Tim Weegar needed some new revenue.

Together, the two men found what they were looking for in an unused warehouse at the far end of Augusta Regional Airport.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Naghibzadeh opened the doors to the new home of Abbas Avionics, an airplane electronics repair shop. He and Mr. Weegar, interim director of the airport, showed off the place to first-time visitors.

"The space is nice; the location is good. We are very excited about this," Mr. Naghibzadeh said.

Mr. Weegar said he and Mr. Naghibzadeh had talked about finding a new home for Abbas Avionics, which has four employees. Mr. Weegar went out to the old storage warehouse, part of which is still occupied by Delta Air Lines, and was surprised at what he found.

"It was dead storage," Mr. Weegar said. "This place was empty."

One of Mr. Weegar's goals since taking over as interim airport director last March has been to increase economic development. The task has been somewhat complicated because the Augusta Aviation Commission is now preparing a master plan - a map laying out future airport growth.

Mr. Weegar said he didn't want to commit unused space to a project and then find out the utilization of that space was not in compliance with the goals of the master plan.

But the warehouse was empty, so he signed Abbas Avionics to a two-year lease. The first year of the lease allows Mr. Naghibzadeh to rent 5,000 square feet of warehouse space for $2,700 a month. Next year, when the master plan is completed, Mr. Naghibzadeh will be allowed to build a permanent facility on airport grounds.

The deal was perfect for Abbas Avionics.

Formerly Classic Avionics of Thomson, the company moved to Swainsboro and then to Aiken Municipal Airport, where it has been for the past seven years, Mr. Naghibzadeh said.

Besides more space, Augusta Regional Airport gives Abbas Avionics more exposure and, potentially, more customers.

And, Mr. Weegar said, it fits in nicely with the other avionics business at Augusta Regional Airport - Garrett Aviation.

"But where Garret focuses on high-end jets," Mr. Weegar said, "Abbas works on single and light twin piston engines."

Mr. Naghibzadeh said his company works on about six planes a week, installing new equipment and making repairs to existing electronic equipment. He expects to get more business from the exposure he will get at Augusta Regional, and he said he plans to hire more employees if business goes well.

Besides the additional revenue from the lease agreement, Mr. Weegar said Augusta Regional Airport will benefit from increased fuel sales and other related business.

"It's a win-win situation for us," Mr. Weegar said.

Reach Justin Martin at (706) 823-3552.