On the opening day of #OSH2022, CubCrafters announced it was going public, opening the company for investment and filing with the SEC to do so. It’s still in progress, but the result will be a publicly traded company that you can buy a part of.
The company says it’s the first company it knows of to go public on an AirVenture flight, and we won’t disagree. After all, it’s a big step for the company in Yakima, Washington.
“Advised by Manhattan Street Capital,” the company said in an embargoed press release, “CubCrafters intends to file with the SEC a qualification to commence its public offering in the coming weeks.” The idea, he said, is “to raise investment capital by selling preferred stock to its fans, customers, aviation enthusiasts, the investment community and the general public at a price of $5 per share with a minimum investment of just $400 per investor.” The details of the offer are such that, CubCrafters explained, offers made by investors would be non-binding but reserve space to buy shares at the price at which they are initially sell, a price that has not yet been determined.
For those of you unfamiliar with the history of CubCrafters, the company has been dedicated to building and improving backcountry aircraft for 40 years. Founded by Jim Richmond, who died last year, CubCrafters produces an impressive range of products, from overhauled Piper Super Cubs to kit planes, Light Sport models and Part 23 certified planes. This broad and innovative approach was everything Jim Richmond, who was an outwardly quiet, fame-averse thinker whose low profile belied his brilliant growth strategy for the company, as well as the technical innovations he guided the creation of.
My first response was that the company, now that Richmond is gone, is moving in a new direction, at least in terms of growth. But CubCrafters says that’s just not the case. In its statement announcing it was going public, CubCrafters wrote, “Our founder Jim Richmond initiated the plan to pursue a public offering with the intention of taking CubCrafters to the next level and securing its future for generations of future airmen. Jim’s vision will enable us to achieve the key objective of continuing to innovate, increasing our market share and accelerating business growth.
What this means, as far as I can tell, is that because it costs a lot of money to build planes and innovate, CubCrafters can’t scale up production or its R&D efforts with its current sources of funding. , which are aircraft purchases. By going public, she will be able to grow the business, her customer base and her lineup much more aggressively. CubCrafters is a privately held US company, he said in the statement. My view is that while other companies, including Cirrus and Piper and Epic Aircraft, for example, have looked to foreign investors, CubCrafters wanted to take a different path, a path that might give them more control over the direction and vision of the company.
With backcountry flying enjoying an unprecedented level of popularity now seems like the perfect time to take this step, even with the economy a wild card at the moment there is real risk involved , although if we’re being honest with ourselves about it, it still is.
With Cirrus Aircraft focused on and dominating the personal transportation segment, CubCrafters seems to be setting itself up to be that kind of company only in a different market segment. Such lifestyle branding and marketing efforts are nothing new in aviation – in recent years, Cirrus and Icon have played that tune well. It’s just not a cheap decision to make, but if done right, the results can be measured in terms of aircraft sold and pilots created.