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Aviation and intelligence company lands in Roswell

“When I say we want to grow this thing, I mean it, and that is across all the activities we have going on,” says Brian Raduenz, chief executive officer of AEVEX Aerospace, which has come to the Roswell Air Center. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A California-based aviation and intelligence company will have a test and training site at the Roswell Air Center after having purchased the group of companies that owned the Matrix International Security Training Intelligence Center (MISTIC).

AEVEX Aerospace, with headquarters in Solana Beach, California, bought the Matrix Group, including MISTIC, in early April for an undisclosed amount. AEVEX has been owned by the private equity firm Madison Dearborn Capital Partners, based out of Chicago, Illinois, since March 2020.

Executives and division heads were in Roswell on Tuesday to host an open house for business leaders and government officials at the test and training site adjacent to the airfield on Will Rodgers Road.

“We were originally interested in the other part of the (Matrix) business because I knew the owner and the people who had started that,” said Brian Raduenz, chief executive officer of AEVEX. “As we evaluated the Roswell range and capabilities here, we realized that it actually fit a lot better than we thought because it was a place where we could round out our test and training offering. So it became much more exciting as we went through the process of acquiring our company, so now we think it is one of our best examples of potential growth for the company.”

Raduenz described the company as “aviation-centric” and says it does $150 million in annual revenues and employs about 800 people at eight locations in the United States. It also works overseas in about 25 countries.

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Its clients include law enforcement, defense contractors, allied foreign governments and branches of the U.S. military. The company modifies manned aircraft and drones to fit customers’ needs and then flight-certifies them afterwards, supports intelligence and surveillance collection activities with the equipment they install, and does data and intelligence analysis.

Gretchen Larsen Idsinga, chief growth officer, said the company does everything from “crop dusting to national security” when it comes to aircraft modifications and data services.

Some customers are interested in military intelligence gathering, she said, but AEVEX also helped the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies use the company’s equipment and systems to monitor and respond to fires. Other customers are involved in mosquito control or search and rescue missions.

“We like to say that we are big enough to do some pretty substantial things but also small enough to still be agile and flexible,” Raduenz said.

AEVEX said it intends to retain MISTIC’s current employees, which number about eight, including director Mark Fischer.

But company officers say they also see the potential to grow in new directions. Raduenz and Idsinga said that the specifics about new directions or customers are not yet known or able to be discussed. Whether the company builds new hangars or buildings will depend on future business needs. It also likely will lease land from area ranchers so that it can do some of its testing in private.

Air Center Director Scott Stark said that AEVEX is operating under MISTIC’s lease, which still has several more years to run. He said the city and AEVEX will negotiate a new lease.

“We have to work through the activities that they are going to do to figure out what space they need,” he said. “It will be a little while. It might be a few months.”

Raduenz said that being part of Madison Dearborn means that it will have the ability to acquire other companies, explaining that the company has bought three companies during the past year.

“We have funding to do bigger things if it makes sense and there is a business case,” he said. “If we aren’t growing as a private equity-backed company, then we aren’t doing it right. When I say we want to growth this thing, I mean it, and that is across all of the activities that we have going on.”

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.