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For nearly 50 years, Carver Aero operated as a small legacy aviation company owned by a family whose name is synonymous with their home state of Iowa. But more than three years ago, the company – founded by the late Roy Carver Sr. – was sold to aviation enthusiasts Inga Carus and Peter Limberger, the wife-husband duo behind CL Enterprises (CLE) of Peru, Illinois. In the short time they have owned it, the new owners have expanded Carver Aero from its two original eastern Iowa locations in Davenport and Muscatine into a network of full-service Fixed-Base Operators (FBO). Through a series of other acquisitions, the aviation company now includes six FBOs and seven locations scattered across the Midwest. In fact, in a move reflective of the power and propulsion of its growth plans, Carver Aero officially rebranded itself under a new company name: revv aviation. The new name, which was rolled out Sunday, May 1, honors the aviation pioneers on whose shoulders the company stands and shows how it is roaring ahead – revving its engine, if you will. “We are a family legacy-born aviation company,” Guy Lieser, the CEO of what is now revv aviation, told the QCBJ. “We are not an investment company buying up aviation companies and having to learn how to run aviation companies.” The network of FBO locations that now make up revv collectively represent more than 250 years of combined aviation experience, Mr. Lieser said.
CLE’s aviation entranceWhile CLE has many business interests and enterprises over several industries, the Carver Aero acquisition landed the entrepreneurial couple in the aviation business. “Both Inga and I are passionate aviators and decided in 2019 to expand our business holdings to build a network of full-service FBOs, starting in the Midwest,” Mr. Limberger said in a news release. Their legacy business was created by Ms. Carus’ grandfather in 1915 in LaSalle, Illinois. He founded Carus Chemical. “For the past 10 years, CLE has invested and built a farming business, a brewery, several restaurants, a wood products company that produces affordable, yet high-end kitchen, bath and home cabinetry,” Mr. Limberger added. In addition, CLE has developed several transformational downtown real estate projects in Western Illinois including retail, apartments and hotels.
FBO network growsMr. Lieser, a pilot and certified flight instructor, has spent his whole working career in aviation including serving in the U.S. Air Force, working as an air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and a side career of buying and selling planes. He joined Carver Aero as CLE closed on the deal Dec. 31, 2019. At the time, Carver Aero had 43 employees who provided charter services, fueling, aircraft maintenance and storage and a flight school, Mr. Lieser recalled. Today, the network is more than 200 employees strong across a total of seven locations and has a fleet of more than 50 aircraft. It also is in the hiring mode working to recruit more pilots, mechanics and technicians. “Peter’s (Mr. Limberger) goal was to grow the company and have a Midwest-based operation and multiple operations,” said Mr. Lieser, who is guiding the growth strategy for revv. In addition to purchasing the two Carver Aero FBO locations – owned the past 35 years by Roy Carver Jr. – Mr. Lieser’s company has since acquired these FBOs that now make up revv aviation:
- The former Lumanair in Aurora, Illinois, owned by Bob and Mike Luman and their parents for more than 60 years. Acquired in August, 2021.
- The former Advanced Air, Council Bluffs, Iowa, owned by Dan Smith and then his daughter Lisa LaMantia for 32 years. Acquired in March 2021.
- The former Janesville Jet Center, Janesville, Wisconsin, previously owned by Steven King and his family. Acquired in July 2021.
- Assumed operations of the FBO at Schaumburg Regional Airport, Schaumburg, Illinois, in February 2022.