Hi-Lite Airfield Services - Watertown, NY

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 / Published in Featured News, Success Stories
Hi-Lite Airfield Services - Watertown, NY

Growth at Hi-Lite Airfield Services has been in the double digits for the last 15 years. The  business, which began as a highway and airport-striping business 25 years ago, has developed into an industry-leading airfield contractor that performs runway painting and maintenance for some of the world's largest airports. 

To continue expanding, John S. McNeely, Hi-Lite's president and CEO, knew the company had to invest in costly equipment and improve cash flow. That opportunity came when Hi-Lite secured a $6.371 million loan package through NYBDC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NBT Bank. The two loans were provided through the USDA's Rural Development Program, a program that supports small businesses in rural areas with the intention of creating jobs and improving the local economy.
Hi-Lite used the financing to buy equipment and refinance debt, allowing for a longer-term loan, a lower rate of interest and the freeing up of cash. Another component of the financing came from the Jefferson County IDA, which provided an $800,000 term loan. NBT additionally provided working capital for the company.
"If we had not gotten these loans, we would have taken on fewer contracts and grown less," said McNeely, who owns the company with his brother and sister-in-law, Calvin and Rhonda McNeely. "This will allow me to grow the business and pursue new opportunities. I have great partners moving forward."
Robert Markowski, vice president, NBT Bank, said the bank has maintained a long-standing relationship with Hi-Lite. As such, NBT is confident in the company's management and high-quality work. However, its explosive growth made it difficult to support that growth with only traditional bank funding.
"Being able to partner with the NYBDC, Jefferson County IDA and the USDA allowed all of us to provide the financing the company needed for continued expansion and future success, while providing an overall loan structure that NBT Bank could support," Markowski said.
With 135 people on the payroll, Hi-Lite is one of the largest employers in Jefferson County. The airline maintenance contractor plans to hire at least 12 more workers and fill three salaried positions over the next two years, a plan made possible by the loan package. McNeely expects to finish 2014 with almost $30 million in revenue, triple that of 2010, and the company is poised to double sales over the next five years. Hi-Lite Airfield Services specializes in airfield surface preparation, runway rubber and paint removal, pavement maintenance and friction testing.
This is the second time that NYBDC and its affiliates have helped fuel the company's growth. In 2009, Hi-Lite used financing through The 504 Company to expand its maintenance shop. The expansion shifted much of the equipment maintenance in house, saving money that then was directed to add customers and grow sales.
"Hi-Lite Airfield Services has shown a commitment to growing their business in New York State, and the North Country in particular," said Brian Bund, NYBDC vice president. "Working in conjunction with NBT Bank and the Jefferson County IDA, we were able to put this recent financing together and position Hi-Lite for future success."