Grand River Aviation reflects business acumen

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courtesy photo | Joanna Whitemarsh, Patrick Brower and Keith Whitemarsh.
courtesy photo | Joanna Whitemarsh, Patrick Brower and Keith Whitemarsh.

by Patrick Brower
In Grand County, smart public and private partnerships can spur new business and provide jobs.

That’s just what has happened with clients the Grand Enterprise Initiative worked with in Kremmling. Grand River Aviation, owned and operated by Keith and Joanna Whitemarsh, is now the FBO (Fixed Base Operation) provider at the Kremmling McElroy Airport.

The airport is owned by Grand County and the Town of Kremmling. But those two entities wisely have decided that the operation at the airport, which provides on-the-spot services to aviators flying
in and out of the airfield, should be offered to the private sector.

Through an aviation fuel revenue sharing agreement and some fees for services, Grand River Aviation is able to set up a commercial operation at the airfield and offer expanded and improved services to the aviation community flying in and out of Kremmling.

This while Grand County and Kremmling can rest assured that members of the aviation community flying in and out of Kremmling are getting the best service possible at a relatively small airport.

“We’re here to connect people who fly in with everything they would need or want in the county,” says Joanna Whitemarsh. “We also offer them any services they might want from an airport.”

The list of services offered through the Whitemarsh operation is lengthy, but it includes fuel and fueling services, a clean lounge
for pilots and passengers, food and drinks, lavatory services, rest rooms, aircraft rental, flying instruction, a gift shop, rental cars, courtesy car, hangar space and tie downs.

Rest assured that if there are services a team flying into Kremmling might want that can’t be offered through Grand River Aviation, Keith and Joanna can connect them to it. They operate like a mini chamber of commerce and business referral operation, all with the goal of keeping pilots and perhaps their passengers happy to have flown into Kremmling.

A major goal of Keith and Joanna is to put Kremmling McElroy Field on the Rocky Mountain aviation map. This way pilots and plane owners and even the increasingly popular passenger jet rental market will see Kremmling as a good place to land. They might even see it as an alternative to landing at other, larger resort airports such as in Eagle County or near Steamboat.

“We are more affordable and less crowded than Eagle Countyor Vail,” Keith says. And more friendly, too. “We can offer a personal touch and attention to detail that some larger operations can’t.”

The Kremmling airport, with a length of 5,540 feet, can’t accommodate the larger passenger jets that are the bread and butter for the ski and resort industry in Eagle and Routt counties. But there is good business to be done with the local aviation community, owners of
resort and ranch properties in the area and for emergency services.

The Kremmling airport was the staging area for many of the helicopters and at times other aircraft used in fighting the fires that have increasingly come to plague the Rocky Mountains and Grand County.

With a longer runway and increased local and resort demand, the Kremmling McElroy Field airport is prepared to become a significant player in the Rocky Mountain aviation universe.

Joanna and Keith Whitemarsh of Grand River Aviation, in partnership with Grand County and the Town of Kremmling, are there paving the way for great aviation possibilities in West Grand County.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at [email protected] kapoks.org .