Mike Helmer, ACE

Mike Helmer, Aircraft and Commercial Enterprises’ president, said buying a lot in the West End Business Park north of its current location will help position it for future development. Under terms of the agreement, the company will have to build on it within two years and is committed for a five-year stay.

Although it’s only been in the West End Business Park for a year, Aircraft and Commercial Enterprises is already seeking to lock in more land for expansion.

With that in mind, company officials purchased a 1-acre lot north of its current site from the city.

“It’s a deal trying to prepare for growth,” said president Mike Helmer. “We’re excited about it.”

Helmer said the company didn’t want to get into a position where it couldn’t develop in the future and be forced to move.

Staying in Derby is a major emphasis of the company as most of the employees either live here or nearby and don’t like the thought of driving up to Wichita or other areas, he said.

With the expansion, the company – which now employs 38 people – could hire up to five new workers, he said.

The land sale, like the one for its current home, is for $1. It was approved by the City Council at its June 11 meeting. But that price tag comes with conditions, such as building within two years and making at least a five-year commitment to do business there.

The new building will be in the 7,500 to 10,000-square-foot range with an estimated value of $700,000 to $1 million. Helmer said he’s likely to go with Wichita-based Smith Construction, which handled the previous job.

ACE’s operation at 800 N. River came after a move from 221 W. Market. That 15,000-square-foot building cost $1.8 million and gave it much more space than the 6,500 square feet it had on Market.

Marcia Hartman, the city’s development manager, was pleased to see ACE expand at the 20-year-old, 30-acre business park.

“It’s wonderful to see these companies grow in the city,” said Hartman, who also helped handle a deal for Ten Talent to build nearby in a similar land contract.

It’s all part of an effort to focus on retaining and growing existing Derby businesses, she said.

ACE, which is owned by Aero-Plains LLC, has been a part of the Derby business community since 2007.

The business, which was founded in 1984 and incorporated in 1986, distributes a wide variety of parts for manufacturers. Those parts include fasteners, straps, wires, cables, and electronic components.

The business doesn’t make parts, but serves as the agent between parts manufacturers and the end user.

But Helmer said it continues to diversify and is not overly dependent on the aviation industry but works with railroads, governmental entities, marine industries and other customers.

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