‘Brilliant’ Move: Established company makes aircraft hangars shine

‘Brilliant’ Move: Established company makes aircraft hangars shine

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Erik Nagli was searching for a business to acquire when he came across Airpark-based Brilliant Epoxy Floors in 2018. It was a perfect fit.

“I spent the better part of 10 years looking for a business that was vertically integrated, meaning you are the solution from the beginning to end,” says Nagli, whose resume is rich with experience in building materials and running large construction businesses.

“If you’re reliant upon somebody else, that’s where you get into trouble. I also wanted a company that had a great reputation.”

Brilliant Epoxy Floors is a concrete restoration and epoxy coatings installation company that offers hangar flooring systems. The 27-year-old company provides consultations and epoxy flooring installation services for general aviation and privately owned hangars.

“In the last several years, we’ve developed somewhat of a niche and become well-known for our work within aircraft hangars,” says Nagli, who lives in Ahwatukee.

“While we attribute our success within the aviation industry to several factors, one of the reasons we get referrals and repeat business is that we understand the rigorous demands placed upon a hangar floor. We know which coating system to use, how to properly prep the surface and how to professionally install the coatings so that the floor not only looks amazing but is able to stand up to harsh conditions.”

According to Nagli, aircraft hangars have several requirements that separate them from traditional commercial and industrial environments. His company offers coating systems that meet those needs.

“Choosing the right flooring for a hangar is critical,” he says. “It can literally impact the efficiency and success of an operation, as well as the safety of those in the environment.

“The difference that separates us is we’re vertically integrated. We do all the prep. Our techs are trained in every facet of the coating business.”

Finding success

Since Nagli purchased the company, he has doubled business, especially on the commercial side. He partners with Sherwin Williams to train and provide Brilliant Epoxy Floor’s staff with the latest cutting-edge technologies. They also jointly warranty all floor installs.

“Portions of the Scottsdale Airpark were built with contaminated aggregate,” he says. “The coating can’t stick to it. This is well known in the Airpark.

“We did Southwest Jet, which is the largest FBO operator in the Airpark. We are able to prep the concrete correctly and educate them on our process — why one guy can charge $3.50 a square foot and the other is $2.50 a square foot.”

Nagli says there are reasons for this. It comes down to preparation, the quality of the materials used and the quality of the technician.

“We focus on that pretty heavily,” he says.

The flooring used within hangars must have excellent compressive strength to withstand the weight and mass of an aircraft, while being flexible.

It must also resist chemicals, fuels, corrosive liquids, waxes and other substances commonly used within hangars. Superior high-wear properties are required so the flooring can resist scratches and abrasions.

Finally, the flooring must be protected against staining that can be caused by hot tires coming in off the runway

“For these reasons, resinous floor coating systems have long been a preferred specification for aircraft hangar floors due to their durability and performance factors,” Nagli says. “Epoxy resins combine with the concrete, creating a continuous layer and a surface that is stronger than concrete alone. This increased strength dissipates the load and increases the weight-bearing capacity and durability of the concrete base, all while remaining flexible under stress.”

Epoxy design

Within aircraft hangars, high-gloss epoxy systems in neutral colors, such as white or gray, are typically specified to improve available light and brighten the facility. In addition to showcasing the aircraft, the use of lighter colors and high-gloss finishes creates light reflectivity, which provides illumination above and underneath the aircraft, as well as better visibility to spills, items or debris on the floor.

While epoxy floors are often specified for hangars, according to Nagli, not all epoxy floors are the same. He explained that the overall quality of the floor depends on several factors, including choosing the right coatings for the space, the quality level of the epoxy coatings, the proper restoration and preparation of the concrete surface, and the skill level of the coating installers.

“Each part of the process is important, but if I had to pick just one variable that separates an ordinary epoxy floor from a Brilliant floor, it would have to be the way we prep the surface,” Nagli says.

“After removing existing coatings, we industrial diamond grind or shotblast the concrete, which creates an ultrasmooth surface that’s ready for a smooth application of coatings. Surface preparation is the key to getting a floor that both shines and performs.”

Nagli also attributes the quality of the company’s end product to its use of commercial-grade coatings and the expertise of its in-house installers.

“Our technicians are expert craftsmen; they undergo extensive training and are very skilled in surface preparation and coating system installation,” Nagli says. “We have the best team in the business.”

Brilliant Epoxy Floors has recently installed hangar coating systems for Southwest Jet Center and several private clients and recoated the Great American Hangar in Scottsdale Airpark.

Nagli’s work isn’t limited to the Airpark. Brilliant Epoxy Floors has collaborated with Intel and Honeywell.

A Seattle native, Nagli moved to the Valley, where he studied automotive at Universal Technical Institute in Avondale. He had plans to work in that industry, but he shifted toward building and served as corporate executive vice president of a lumber yard.

“I ultimately decided that no matter how high I got, I still had a boss,” he says. “I had an idea of how I wanted to run a business. I found that in Brilliant Epoxy Floors.

“We take extremely good care of our employees. They’re all trained on high-end equipment. Our core value is to do the right thing.” ν

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