The Erickson Story
The new Erickson of today is primarily comprised of two Oregon legacy aviation giants—Evergreen Aviation (McMinnville, Oregon) and Erickson Aviation (Central Point/Medford, Oregon). The companies were led and founded by two remarkable Oregonians with memorable personalities, but very different in approach and style.
Jack Erickson founded Erickson in 1971 with a focus on logging that evolved to an eventually much bigger market of firefighting. The Erickson reputation for trustworthiness and toughness was built on the hard work of men and women from southwest Oregon in the Central Point/Medford area and the iconic Sikorsky S-64, a giant in the aircraft industry. The blazing orange “Aircranes” are viewed as beacons of hope in the midst of boiling wildfires, and the Aircrane named “Elvis” is revered in Australia for having saved several firefighters’ lives. Given the heavy lift capabilities of the Aircrane, and the thinking that goes into complex project troubleshooting, Erickson’s earnest employees claim, “If we can’t do it, it can’t be done.”
Del Smith founded Evergreen Aviation in 1960 and earned his stripes establishing a legacy of extensive contacts within the Department of Defense for missions in service to the United States for nearly 50 years. His leadership within the aviation world was broadly recognized and he built a world class aviation and space museum that features iconic aircraft starting with the Wright Brother’s early flight models and the museums draw nearly a million visitors every year. The breadth of his collection is testament to his broad circle of influence in the aerospace industry and devotion to promoting flight. Unfortunately, the company faced struggles with waning contracts and a diminishing reputation, but many of the talented employees and workhorse aircraft were acquired by Erickson Inc. in 2013.
Erickson Air-Crane, Inc. was founded in 2007, with the intent to build and grow a global helicopter aerial service provider. Udo Rieder was hired as CEO in the same year as a group of investors saw the concept of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Understanding that bringing two specialty companies—and acquiring the Oil and Gas expertise of Brazilian-based Air Amazonia in 2013—has created an organizational opportunity to be a full-services provider for firefighting, government services, and commercial services such as oil and gas, construction, and special project work.
The company continues to leverage its diverse fleet of 90 aircraft for light, medium, and heavy lift work as well as people and cargo transport. With the idea that 1+1+1>3, the company is diversifying its capabilities to build out seasonal fluctuations and manage a portfolio comprised of 30% O&G; 20% firefighting; 20% commercial and 30% defense.