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Tri-State Aero’s New Owners Spare No Time Fueling Regional Growth

EVANSVILLE, Indiana – (OCT. 2, 2023) – Approaching Evansville Regional Airport, pilots and their passengers soar over a meandering Ohio River marking the Indiana-Kentucky border, where the mighty waterway bends back on itself as if giving airborne visitors a giant thumbs up.

That “green light” is more than just topographical symbolism for Evansville. Over centuries, this bustling stop along a major Midwest waterway has been a hub of commerce, drawing prehistoric Native Americans, 18th century fur traders and contemporary titans of industry alike, attracted to its central location and entrepreneurial spirit.

Today, the new owners of Tri-State Aero – the sole fixed base operator (FBO) serving Evansville Regional Airport – plan on fueling regional growth for decades to come. Shortly after locally owned United Companies bought Tri-State Aero in October 2022, the new stewards of this 60-year-old FBO, along with the airport’s board, announced plans to build a two-story, state-of-art terminal.

Construction is set to begin on the new, 10,000-square-foot terminal, featuring extensive glass and shiny, contemporary materials. It’s designed to serve as a fitting and welcoming “front door” to the community, explains Doug Petitt, President of Tri-State Aero, and EVP / Chief People Officer for United Companies.

“You walk in and see a world-class facility met by a world-class staff in a great airport where you can get in and out of easily, that’s going to mean something to the community,” Petitt says. “We can show Evansville off better, the way it should be represented. And pilots will love the new lounge on the second floor.”

People fuel

For a regional airport running almost 35,000 aircraft operations annually – 60 percent of those general aviation – Tri-State Aero plays a significant role. The Phillips 66® Aviation-branded FBO serves the airports’ airlines, providing fuel for American, Allegiant and Delta, while offering private jet and avgas customers 200,000 square feet of spacious ramp parking, plus 100,000 square feet of hangar space, with more planned.

But what really makes this FBO attractive, says Petitt, is its customer-focused team and their technical capabilities. “This is very much about quality people, and that’s a big part of United Companies’ culture,” Petitt says. “We bought the FBO for the people. We have one of the best groups of employee bases you can ask for and that made the decision to purchase Tri-State Aero a no-brainer.

Bo Ballard, Tri-State Aero’s Vice President, has been with the FBO for 30 years. He says it’s not just the FBO’s experience that stands out – their line manager has been with Tri-State for 44 years – but also its level of service, red carpet treatment and commitment to safety.

“We don’t have a cookie-cutter way of doing things,” explains Ballard. “The customer’s problem is our problem until it goes away.”

Already steeped in technical capabilities, this FAA-authorized repair station is doubling down on its aircraft maintenance and avionics offerings. Ballard sees opportunity to satisfy rising demand for avionics and maintenance.

“Tri-State Aero is now the region’s preeminent avionics shop for 150 miles,” Ballard says. “We believe that hiring quality mechanics, avionics technicians and airframe specialists can grow our business significantly.”

Serving everything from jet to light sport and experimental aircraft, the FBO is an authorized dealer for the industry’s most renown avionics brands: Electronics International, Mid-Continent Instruments + Avionics, DYNON, J.P. Instruments, Avidyne, Trio Avionics, Garmin and Aspen Avionics.

Its maintenance professionals support Beechjet, King Air, Cessna and, as authorized repair centers, Cirrus and Piper aircraft. The team is trained for Pratt & Whitney and Teledyne powerplants, as well as airframe class 1 and 3 work. The FBO’s aircraft management program simplifies customers’ maintenance scheduling by digitally tracking aircraft records and service history.

Wheel of Fortune

Like a hub with spokes leading to Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville and St. Louis, Evansville is smack in the middle, the commercial core for a large, Tri-State trade area. Many of the region’s corporations and their leased or owned aircraft frequent the FBO – drawn to a less congested airport with the same level of service as those in larger cities.

Nearby, Toyota, Alcoa and AK Steel continue as manufacturing pillars for Evansville, known for an aircraft factory that during World War II produced nearly half the nation’s legendary P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers. Healthcare and medical science are major Evansville employers, while notable, national brands headquarter there.

Tri-State Aero sees its 35-year relationship with Phillips 66 Aviation as an advantage, says Ballard. “Fuel is the biggest part of our business, so Phillips 66’ guaranteed supply and contract fueling programs are important and beneficial to both our customers and the FBO,” he explains. “We try to offer not just quality service, but also options.”

As a longtime customer, new owner United Companies and their logistics, transport and financial services teams are a familiar presence at the FBO.

“Building a new general aviation terminal is very exciting not only for us, but for the whole community,” says Petitt. “We’re a 60-year-old, locally created company, privately held by one family, with strong, deep roots in Evansville. We believe in giving back, and we’re betting on the community.”

For more about Tri-State Aero, visit