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Oasis Aero chosen to be new Willmar Airport FBO

WILLMAR--While a contract still needs to be negotiated, signed and approved, the Willmar City Council chose Eric Rudningen and Paul Beck of Oasis Aero Inc. to become the new fixed-base operator at the Willmar Municipal Airport.

Shelby Lindrud / TribunePaul Beck, owner of Weep No More, finishes up work on one of five planes currently in his hangar at the Willmar Airport. Beck and business partner Eric Rudningen were chosen as the next fixed-base operator at the airport, contingent on an approved contract with the city.
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune Paul Beck, owner of Weep No More, finishes up work on one of five planes currently in his hangar at the Willmar Airport. Beck and business partner Eric Rudningen were chosen as the next fixed-base operator at the airport, contingent on an approved contract with the city.

WILLMAR-While a contract still needs to be negotiated, signed and approved, the Willmar City Council chose Eric Rudningen and Paul Beck of Oasis Aero Inc. to become the new fixed-base operator at the Willmar Municipal Airport.

"For me it was a pretty big deal. We were high fiving on the way home," said Beck in an interview with the Tribune on Thursday.

Beck, who owns Weep No More, an aircraft fuel tank repair business, and Rudningen, owner of Eric's Aviation Services and also the current airport operations supervisor, formed Oasis Aero earlier this year as a way to provide more services to the pilots who come to Beck for repairs.

"The two of us could do more together," Beck said.

The airport has been without a fixed-base operator since early June when the city of Willmar terminated its contract with Brian Negen and Maximum Cruise Aviation.

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Beck and Rudningen submitted one of two proposals the city received when it sought a new fixed-base operator.

The company already has its insurance and licensure in place, Beck said.

Contingent on an approved contract, Beck and Rudningen will provide pilots with many services, including airplane repair, flight instruction, ramp service, rental aircraft, charter service and courtesy services, which include a courtesy car as well assistance with catering and lodging.

Oasis Aero's fixed-base operator proposal said while the company would welcome the opportunity to sell fuel at the airport, it is willing to allow the city to continue retailing fuel while Oasis Aero will assist pilots with fueling, provide full-service fuel when requested, monitor tank levels, help the city with billing and perform daily inspections of the fuel system for $0.35 per gallon.

Beck said he hopes Oasis Aero and the airport will continue to grow, which will mean hiring additional staff to meet those needs.

Both Beck and Rudningen worked for Jaeger's Willmar Air Service, the fixed-base operator at the Willmar Airport for many years.

While Rudningen and Beck now have their own businesses, they still look to Bruce Jaeger for inspiration and mentoring. There were great relationships not only between those who worked at Willmar Air Service, but also with local pilots, Beck said.

"I had tremendous pride working with Bruce. It was like a family and we're trying to put the family back together," Beck said.

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The fixed-base operator interview committee and the city's Community Development Committee both recommended the city negotiate a contract with Oasis Aero.

The other proposal came from a group made up of Ron Buchanan, Dan O'Meara, Brian Frost and William Fry.

Airport Manager Megan DeSchepper said at the Sept. 1 Community Development Committee meeting that there was a lengthy discussion of both proposals before a recommendation was made. The reasons for choosing Oasis Aero included the duo's experience, agency contacts at all levels, existing relationships and the ability to begin immediately.

Bruce Peterson, Willmar Planning and Development Services director, said Beck and Rudningen will also be very accessible when pilots need assistance, answering calls within 15 minutes.

In the proposal for FBO services that Beck and Rudningen submitted, they said there would be staff at the airport seven days a week for at least 8 hours a day.

"They'll bring a whole new level of commitment to their jobs and to the airport. And they will be very accessible. I don't think you can do better than that," he said.

Peterson said both proposals met the requirements laid out in the city's request for proposals for the fixed-base operator contract, which included minimum services each business would provide.

"The other group brought great skills to the table too, no question about it," Peterson said.

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Councilman Andrew Plowman, who acts as the council's liaison to the Airport Commission, has been impressed with the whole hiring process.

"Nice and clear cut," Plowman said.

The Willmar City Council accepted the recommendation Sept. 6 and approved a motion to begin negotiations with Oasis Aero.

"We're looking forward to providing good service again at the Willmar Airport," Beck said.

Shelby Lindrud / TribunePaul Beck, owner of Weep No More, finishes up work on one of five planes currently in his hangar at the Willmar Airport. Beck and business partner Eric Rudningen were chosen as the next fixed-base operator at the airport, contingent on an approved contract with the city.
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune Paul Beck, owner of Weep No More, finishes up work on one of five planes currently in his hangar at the Willmar Airport. Beck and business partner Eric Rudningen were chosen as the next fixed-base operator at the airport, contingent on an approved contract with the city.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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