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Sat, Nov 11, 2023

Cleaveland Tool Makes Impassioned Plea

Van's Aircraft Woes Proving Contagious to Vulnerable Sportplane Industry

A heartfelt request from the family owners of Cleaveland Aircraft Tool began making the rounds this week, an unfortunate reminder of just how fragile the light aircraft industry remains.

Cleaveland Aircraft Tool is a good old fashioned company providing assistance in building and repair for amateur-built, experimental, and vintage aircraft. Their bread and butter lies in the Van's catalog, with recommendations, tools, and advice well suited to what seems to be the full gamut of RV models. In his address, Blake, joint owner of the operation along with his wife Becky, earnestly acknowledged the problems faced during the ongoing supply woes over at Van's Aircraft. As a downstream provider, Cleaveland is keenly affected by changes in sales and builds - and the Van's issue is only one of a few issues plaguing the sportplane industry.

Cleaveland's new owners took over last year, continuing 30+ years of aviation service started by the Lauritsen family. Blake admits that business is flagging from where it needs to be to keep things running. "Now, in order to buy the business, we took out a pretty sizable loan which was a scary risk but the math all worked out so we felt comfortable that we would be able to keep up with plenty of margin for error. And then the last few months happened... with recent turbulence in the industry, our sales numbers have dropped considerably for the last several months. Sales are still coming in but we are just seeing numbers that are much lower than what they were last year - and far below the numbers we were anticipating when we made the loan. Here's the point of all of this: we are very close to being able to keep our heads above water but the honest truth is that we just need more sales to keep up. What I want to ask of you is if you're watching this and you've been thinking about buying some tools or maybe even putting off buying tools please consider making that purchase soon."

For those eyeballing the pricier quality items, he offers a warning about next year's market: Wholesalers just keep raising prices. "For what it's worth we are expecting quite a few items to go up in price at the end of the year," Blade added. "So now may be the best time to make those purchases even if you are currently waiting on your airframe kit from Vans or you're just thinking about buying one." To jump start their holiday sales, Cleaveland has embarked on a cute little tchotchke campaign, with handy reference posters, 3d Model aircraft, and company paraphernalia on hand.

"When you shop with small businesses like ours you're not just trading money for tools," he said. "You are directly supporting our lives and the lives of our employees. Your purchases enable college funds and school clothes for these kids as well as toys, food, and vet visits for our adorable animals. For those of you that have supported the business in the past: Thank you so much! If you are in a position to be able to get some tools or other goodies from us in the next few weeks, it would be an immense help towards making sure that we are here for the long haul."

FMI: www.cleavelandtool.com

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