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Seacoast Helicopters Riding High

Published Thursday Dec 27, 2018

Author Robert Cook

This is the second year that Business NH Magazine compiled a list of NH’s Veteran-Owned Businesses. This year we featured 41 businesses, ranging from the state’s largest car dealership to manufacturers and tech companies. We salute all these businesses for their accomplishments and for adding to the strength of the NH economy. Here is a profile of one of these companies:

Bruce Cultrera found himself at a crossroads when his work as a consultant often took him away from home and his family. The solution was to take his experience as an Air Force veteran and his pilot skills and create his own company, Seacoast Helicopters at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth.

He started the company in 2013 with one helicopter and one pilot. Now Seacoast Helicopters has five helicopters and 14 pilots, and three fixed-wing aircraft—a Cesna 172, Cesna 150 and Seneca 5. “We do a little bit of everything,” says Cultrera, president and CEO of Seacoast Helicopters, explaining that the business has five major market segments, including fixed wing and helicopter flight instruction, scenic touring, and charter flights to New York City and throughout New England. “We do external load where they lift things with the helicopters to aid in construction and government contracts to do mostly cell tower and microwave construction and maintenance,” he says.

The company has grown an average of 30 to 40 percent annually over the past three years. Cultrera says his military service helped him become the business leader he is today.

He grew up in nearby Eliot, Maine, and enlisted in the Air Force at 18. He attended the Air Force Academy in 1973 and served four years in Colorado and Texas. “The biggest thing that experience taught me was organization and prioritization,” Cultrera says. As an Air Force cadet, he quickly learned to prioritize his duties and still uses that methodical approach to build his business. “There is no substitute for putting together a good plan and knowing exactly what your market consists of before you do anything,” Cultrera says.

When he left the service, Cultrera held a series of defense industry jobs in NH and California. He also formed his own management consulting business in 2006, but his job forced him to spend too much time away from home and it took too much of a toll on his family. That’s when Seacoast Helicopters was born.

The demand for his services keeps growing. This year, Seacoast Helicopters established operations in Portland, Maine, where he sees potential to grow the business on par with the Portsmouth location. Cultrera also wants to roll out a fixed-wing flight academy in partnership with area colleges “that will address the pilot shortage that everyone is reading about in the news right now.”

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