Panel: Growth During Adversity

Growth during Adversity with Kellee Valentine ACI Jet Tom Benvenuto Solairus Aviation Neil Rose Jet It Krister Genmark Web Manuals

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Krister Genmark, Director of Operations at Web Manuals, invites three industry leaders in business aviation to discuss growth during adversity at our virtual conference Go Digital 2021.

See transcribed version below. Use the table of content above to navigate between questions.

Growth During Adversity with ACI Jet, Solairus Aviation & Jet It


Kellee Valentine, Senior Vice President of Flight Operations, ACI Jet

“I’ve been with the company for about 17 years. ACI Jet operates 3 business units. We have an FBO division that operates three FBOs in California, one at John Wayne Airport, one in Paso Robles, and then our headquarters in San Luis Obispo. We also have a maintenance and repair organization in San Luis Obispo. We’re the only bombardier authorized service facility on the West Coast. And then the last business but not least is our aircraft management and charter business, which is what I oversee. Here we have a fleet of 15 aircraft, all based in San Luis Obispo, of which about eight are Global Expresses.”

Neil Rose, Director of Operations, Jet It

“I’m currently the Director of Operations for Jet It here in the United States and have a long history with regulatory compliance, having spent over eight and a half years as an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector. I am also an ATP-rated pilot and, more importantly, the manager for flight operations.”

Tom Benvenuto, Director of Operations, Solairus Aviation

“I am the Senior VP or DO of Solairus Aviation. We are an aircraft management company with a charter certificate. We operate over 200 aircraft all over the world. I’ve actually been with the company since 2001. We were originally sold out to another company and then we reformulated and Solairus rose from the ashes.”

Krister Genmark, Director of Operations, Web Manuals

“I’ve been with Web Manuals now for about five years, started the operation here in San Diego, California, and I’ve had the pleasure to work with these gentlemen at different periods of time. Kelly here really from the beginning, Tom, a few years back and Neil I got to know, long before he became a customer. We’ve had a lot of interesting conversations and I think we’ll have a few of those interesting conversations as a group today as well.”

Growth During Adversity

Krister: “The topic is adversity and how we can grow through adversity and really embrace adversity as we’ve been forced to do during the pandemic that hit us about 15 months ago. I read this article on adversity here a couple of days ago and there was a line there that really resonated with me when they said, don’t fight adversity, hug it. You got to hug adversity and become one with it. And if you can pass through adversity, you will come out stronger. I think we all are witnesses of that in our different organizations.”

What were the thoughts going on in your head at the beginning of the pandemic?

Krister: “If you go back in time, a little more than a year, and it became clear what the pandemic really was and how it would affect us, affect the industry, affect your company and you personally… What were the thoughts going on in your head at that time?”

Kellee: “My first thought was that this is going to be a significant event, especially for the airlines. I expected travel to come to an abrupt halt, which it did. And I expected it to stay that way for a prolonged period. I was concerned that we were going to see travel fall off for a long period of time, which was the case for for some companies. I think the airlines are still flying at reduced loads, but that was not the case for us. We were fortunate in that. By June, we had a snapback rally. And while we weren’t sure how long that would last, it’s actually continued through to today – we’ve had some of our busiest months ever.”

“So while we were nervous in late March, we started flying drop-off mid-March and really resumed around the first of June. So yeah, a lot of concern initially. One thing we’ve learned over the years is not to make any rash reactions to a crisis, not to panic. I think step number one in a situation is don’t do anything. Instead, look around, assess the situation, see what’s really going on. And that’s what we did. We didn’t make any rash decisions. We worked through it as everyone else did. We were fortunate and the business came back pretty quickly. Initially, I thought it was going to be much worse than it was.”

Krister: “That was my follow-up question – first action taken? But what you are saying, sit back and see what develops before you make any?”

Kellee: “Obviously, our first concern was to keep everyone safe, both our employees and our customers. How do we do that, while still providing the critical transportation that we’re here to provide? People need to get from point A to point B, how do we do that safely? For the passengers? For our flight crew? Who are going to have different people on the plane on a regular basis?”

“We sat down and thought about that pretty quickly. We put together some COVID protocols covering everything from, you know, the right questions to ask clients before they board the aircraft, to how do we disinfect the aircraft, to how do we limit the risk for flight crew on the road.”

“For some of our smaller aircraft, crews will often use FBO courtesy shuttles to get to and from the hotel. So we said, everyone’s getting a rental car, no matter what – we can’t get a rental car, then we’ll hire a private driver. Whatever you do to limit the risk.”

“We also set up a COVID task force for our employees. You know, and I’m sure Tom and Neil can relate, most of us at the higher levels are very busy all the time, no matter what we do. It’s a struggle. So we pick people that had a little bit more capacity and put a group together from all of our businesses. We said ‘you guys are the COVID Task Force’ – go learn everything about it, come up with a way to inform our employees. And they did… They created a hotline for anyone in the company to call if they had questions. They also set up a company-wide text messaging system so that we could have on-site COVID testing, which we’ve been running from almost the beginning. Every month or every three weeks, there’s a COVID test available on-site at our facility. A text message will go out that says free COVID testing available tomorrow and all employees have to do is show up. It’s paid time. They show up, they can be tested. Then, that helped us ensure our workforce was staying healthy. That’s key. Those are some of the initial reactions.”

“From an operational standpoint, we wanted to use the time wisely. So I met with our maintenance team and flight operations and said guys, let’s pull forward every bit of maintenance we can. Any of the little things that haven’t been addressed due to the schedule, we’re going to put all that forward and we’re going to do it now.”

“From a crewing standpoint, who do we have that needs training in the next six months? Because I was concerned that COVID was going to become a problem at flight safety or CAE – basically shut down a training facility. And if that happened, we would have been in a very bad position. Because our pilots require training every six months. So if one of those facilities even just becomes backed up, because it’s been shut down for two or three months, that could effectively ground our fleet. So we pulled forward maintenance and training for everyone.”

Krister: “Tom, you had a similar experience. A lot of aircraft spread across the country. What were your initial thoughts and actions?”

Tom: “It kind of hit everybody overhead pretty hard. We, like Kelly said, we thought the industry was going to just roll back big time. We were in a relatively good position from an IT standpoint, because we were so remotely based. We don’t have three or four bases, our airplanes are spread all over the place. So from a communication and IT standpoint, the way we work day-to-day, we didn’t really miss a beat.”

“The hardest thing for us to get over in terms of a hurdle was the admin staff that was based at our headquarters here in Northern California. Then we have another office in White Plains. We were dispensing out equipment so that they could work from home. That was probably logistically the first hurdle we had to get over. Then, I was just keeping up with the changes with regards to the pandemic – what we could do, what we couldn’t do?

“I think we can all recall, they were telling us, don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a mask and won’t do anything. So everyone had a lot of questions. And like Kelly mentioned, we had set up our own group, if you will, to be all knowledgeable in COVID happenings, and it worked out? Well, I think for the most part.”

“What we saw was that the first two months, things dropped off dramatically. I think we had over 100 ops a day and then it trickled down to like 3, and most of those ops were for, you know, maintenance repositions or whatever. We were trying to maintain the aircraft schedules with regards to their maintenance. We pretty much halted our simulator training. We weren’t really sending anyone to sim training for the first several months. There was an extension put out by the FAA, which allowed us to let everyone continue on with their credentials without falling out of their currency. So there were some things that help mitigate the effect initially.”

“But then, by the middle of summer, I’m guessing is when we started to see sort of a beginning of an uptick of travel. And again, because we were positioned in such a way that we are remotely based, and we’re pretty tech-heavy and automated in many of the systems that we use, we’re able to sort of just kind of go with it.”

“Our thought was, this thing is going to go on for at least two years. Maybe we’ll see an uptick in flying, but it’s not going to be anything like it was pre-pandemic. And by late in the fall, we started seeing, you know, 40-50-60 flights a day. Then we had new aircraft coming. So from, not only were we starting to operate to more of a norm, but we had folks lined up that was trying to come in the door to be on board with Solairus and work through our management company. That was extremely surprising.

“Because we added a bunch of airplanes from late last year and up to about now, it’s been unprecedented growth. So it’s, there’s a couple of reasons for that. I’m not so sure if I’m the big expert on why that is, other than there were a lot of folks on the sidelines, folks that owned aircraft or were looking to get into an aircraft and they needed somebody to partner up with and take care of their assets and provide them with crews and whatnot. And fortunately, we’re here to help them out with that.”

Krister: “So, you would say from your perspective, looking back, you were pretty well prepared?”

Tom: “Not because there was a pandemic, but just because of the way our business model is set up, we’re remotely based. We’re not centrally located. And so there, we were able to sort of continuing on with really not much effort put into the process of working from home, which I know a lot of businesses really suffered initially because nobody used to work at home. You know, the distractions, you got kids, you got pets, you got, some folks just can’t work at home. And we didn’t, I’m sure there were some folks on staff that didn’t like working at home. I know there are others that love it.”

“Personally, I love it. Because I can wake up, I can still be in my shorts and a T-shirt, and I can get to work at eight o’clock. I’m drinking a cup of coffee and have a bowl of cereal. And I’m at it all day. And again, like Kelly mentioned earlier, in our jobs, every day is a challenge. There are all kinds of stuff coming at you, it’s kind of like standing in a batting cage, and having somebody with 1000 baseballs, just dumping them in the machine. And you’re just sitting there hitting balls all day long. Some are sliders, some curveball, some are fastball, so you just kind of roll with it. And some degree, I believe that was the way we sort of dealt with this pandemic.”

Krister: “We talked a little bit about the human experience in this and and that it is very different for people for different reasons, working from home might be easy, might be hard, you might be used to it, you might never have done it before. Neil, how were you set up? And how were you able to manage that situation when this happened?”

Neil: “What separates or differentiates me from my auditory counterparts here is that, a year ago or 18 months ago, Jet It was in a startup phase, which is a big difference to sustained businesses like ACI Jet and Solairus already.”

“We were in that startup mindset, you know, although we had talent and experience from other companies, collectively as a leadership team, our focus was getting the business moving in the right direction. So March, when COVID hit, we had one of two things, either make it about face and be done with it or pull together as a collective team and drive forward.”

“The experience of September 11, and the experience of the 2008 market crash were really all things that came up in the conversation about how we move forward. And it’s really, strengthen ourselves for the next sprint while trying to protect and support the current state was really our perspective on it. So for us, it accelerated a lot of things that we needed to do. People were nervous, they were scared about what to come, they weren’t sure about how long COVID is going to be a thing — What is it going to be? Is it going to go away? How long is it going to be here? In fact, those things all lead to fear, and uncertainty in the workplace, but, what we did was focusing on building the business out, focus on using the talent that we had, and working collaboratively together to get everything that we wanted to do – accelerate the why while trying to support the current state.”

“As a result, we work long hours to keep our mind off of COVID. And even in your team, I remember, calling support and asking for input on various projects that I was working, and the team collectively worked its way around, towards helping me, move through some of the challenges that I was working on, which otherwise, probably would have taken about six months or so. But we were able to get it done relatively quickly and become a customer for the first time after years of being a fan of the product, which was incredible.”

“That has given me the opportunity to speak from a user perspective, it has since accelerated our utilization of Web Manuals, and embracing that technology so that you can be agile and more effective and not be so reliant on a centralized workforce and location.”

“That was our plan. In March, we had three airplanes today we’ve got nine so you call it whatever, 300% growth, or whatever it is, but we’ve quickly transitioned out of the startup mindset into a sustainable business model that that’s working on a collective across the board.”

Krister: “What kind of organization do you need to be to be able to do that? And how do you foster that mentality?”

“First of all, I think you need to have the proper talent, right? You need the proper mindset. I think one of our strengths is that you’ve got people with a tremendous amount of experience in aviation and they’ve been through this before, in certain areas but we opted, to huddle together for a common cause in this case. And utilize some of the best practices that we had from 2008 and from September 11, to mind the house and choose to focus on what’s in front of you.”

“The good thing about a lot of our team members, they’re all athletes. So what do you do when you lose the race? Well, you go back and train harder – this was our time to train harder. And there’s a lot of metaphors that we’ve used and gone through to help pull each other up by the bootstraps when we felt down, when we felt overwhelmed about working from home or just not being able to go out of the house because of various reasons. And, you know, I live in New York. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey was constantly in the news about how the world is coming to an end because of where we are. So, it was just communication, transparency, focusing on what the goals are, and then taking that moment to be human. Because it affected every single one of us. Having that conversation, reaching out to our friends that we haven’t talked to in a while, and having a conversation – Hey, how are you doing – just making sure the human side of things is not overlooked, because that was probably the part that was depressing a lot of people for the most part.”

What learnings do you take from the pandemic and how do you bring that with you into the future and prepare for whatever is coming?

Krister: “Now the pandemic is not over. We wish the pandemic was over. But that doesn’t really help because it’s not and it’s continuing in a different phase and we don’t really know what what the future looks like. And we do know that whatever happens is going to affect our industry in one way or another. So the learnings from this and how do you bring that with you into the future now and prepare for whatever is coming next?”

Kellee: “That’s a good question. Krister. You know, I don’t think we ever know the future so I don’t know that that’s any different. Yeah, these black swan events are. We act like they’re rare. But it seems I mean, we had the great recession in 06-08 that we all dealt with, and we had the pandemic. I don’t know what the next one will be. But they don’t seem to be as rare as we all think, they seem to come around pretty frequently. So I think you never know what’s coming in the future.”

“But I think what we learned from this was one that our investment in technology over the last 20 years has been was very important and very worthwhile. Like Tom, our team is completely paperless. Our flight deck is paperless, our dispatch team is paperless. So when we had to go to work remotely, it was a non-event for us. Truly, I don’t think we had a single hiccup that I can remember other than we could never remember to unmute our mics on zoom calls.”

“Without the years of building up things like flight operations system, FOS mobile or in-air capabilities, using Web Manuals, we wouldn’t be able to make that transition so easily. So that was number one. It reinforced our decision to always invest in technology and to continue to do so.”

“The other thing that I took away from the event was that I learned that private aviation is much stronger as an industry than I gave us credit for previously. I think we’ve proven now that it’s a true piece of the critical transportation infrastructure in the United States. Especially as it grew through the pandemic, just like with Tom, our fleet grew substantially during the pandemic, because the people that were on the sidelines could afford to travel privately. They said, okay, we’re going to travel privately, we see the value of this. So I think our industry is going to continue to grow and expand, I think it’s going to be a bigger part of life for the general public than in the past. It’s always been reserved for the uber-wealthy.”

“I think we’re gonna see these trends continue. Not only from the effects of the pandemic but also as small vertical takeoff and landing aircraft take hold. And as we move to have autonomous aircraft, I think private aviation proved itself and it’s going to continue to grow.”

Krister: “It’s interesting to see how it develops during these times of adversity. And as you said, UVTOL, urban transport and autonomous going hand in hand with that, which makes me think of – it’s not just us, it’s not just tech organizations and agile organisations like yours. We also have to work with other stakeholders in the industry, authorities being one.”

How do you think the authorities will be able to adapt to this new reality? How have the FAA been able to adapt during the pandemic?

Neil: “I think a lot of the times, we, as the industry, have always waited for the authorities to do things. And I think this pandemic has shown us, demonstrated across the board that, we are already experts in our field and we have to encourage the authorities to support us in what we’re doing. But with the mindset, that, you know, we’re building a greater good, we’re utilizing our skills assets to be able to provide a service that’s much needed.”

“The authorities and the FAA is an old organization that works with papers and typewriters, and it’s up to us to force that digitization of the FAA and get them thinking about that these are the things we need you guys to focus on so that we can continue to do our business. That’s really important, collectively, to have that conversation. Showing the FAA that we’re capable of managing our businesses, we are capable of being compliant with the regulation, it’s our intent to be compliant with regulations and safety standards. But we need you guys to give us the room to do that.”

“One of the things for us, we’ve gone through suggestions in the virtual component conformities. That’s one of the big win for us during the pandemic – the FAA didn’t want their inspectors to go out in the field, they weren’t coming out and doing visits. So he said, ‘Why don’t you do it virtually?’ We can chat between teams. Everyone has an iPhone these days or some kind of Apple device. Let’s use, zoom, let’s use, FaceTime, let’s use something that gives you the ability to see the airplane in live environment, because ultimately, that’s what you want, you want to look at a live airplane, you want to see things in its actual reality. If I’m standing next to the aircraft, then there’s no doubt that that’s what it is. So that’s one of the big wins for us in terms of being able to do a conformity inspection or other aircraft inspections, virtually, that they were very open to doing.”

“It’s like we spoke about, making some adjustments from the industry side and then presenting it as a collective group to the FAA in a manner that speaks for them. I don’t necessarily think the FAA is adverse to make any changes. I think the challenge is how we go about presenting it to them. A lot of times we have this adversarial relationship with the authorities, and I think we as industry leaders, we just need to understand that they’ve got a responsibility and so do we – How do we frame it in a manner that shows us being more collaborative as opposed to adversarial?”

Adding airplanes to your mass fleet and finding crews, how’s that been?

Krister: “Before the pandemic hit, one of the big topics in the industry was the lack of trained pilots, finding pilots out there and looking a few years ahead and seeing that we would end up being in a situation where we wouldn’t have enough pilots to fly our airplanes. Adding airplanes to your mass fleet and finding crews. How’s that been? And what do you foresee that being in the near future?”

Tom: “Great question. Pre-pandemic, it was getting tighter. And when I say tighter, I mean, it was harder to find quality. There were obviously experienced folks out there, but you know, you get a resume and they’ve had 20 jobs in 20 years. So, your little suspect to that. Granted, corporate aviation or business aviation is a little different than the airline industry. Typically the path of an airline person pilot is such that they may come up to the military, they may come up through general aviation and then they work for a regional airline. They build their experience and then they get on with a major airline. Then they stay with that major airline for up to 20 years. In the corporate world, business aviation, it’s a little different, what you’ll find is that there are times where folks have really good jobs, pilots have great jobs, but they only last for four or five years. So that resume of someone who’s really spent their entire career in this industry looks a lot different than an airline resume.”

“The one thing that we saw, again, pre-pandemic, and then post-pandemic was that the experience level was a lot less and that it was a buyer’s market. In other words, pilots were able to somewhat dictate a little bit, though the conditions to what they were signing up for salaries, especially in some of the more expensive places to live, the Bay Area, the Northeast, LA, I wouldn’t I don’t call them demand. But certainly, you know, they were negotiating, whereas you didn’t see that five years ago. All of a sudden, that changed, because there were some folks that lost their jobs. And we’re looking in and we capitalized on that, obviously, because our pool then increased and we were able to find some very experienced aviators, that we could put into a global or a GeForce 650 or 600 or a 550, where it was a little bit of a harder search, pre-pandemic.”

“Moving forward, I suspect, to some degree, we’ll kind of go back to that pre-pandemic era, and that only because the pilot pool in terms of experience base is there. But there’s more flying, the airlines are our hiring again. I know United’s getting ready to hire here. In fact, we’ve lost two pilots to two airlines recently. And one of those individuals was a corporate pilot for 10 years and decided to make a switch. One of the things we have to do as an industry is we have to promote business aviation as a career stopping place versus as a stepping stone.”

“That’s the hardest for us – to come back, compared to the airlines. From a competitive standpoint, the airlines have this fixed schedule and these fixed salary contracts, and so forth. In our business, we don’t necessarily have that. We have to sort of be creative in coming up with ways to demonstrate to folks that look, the airlines are not as stable as they used to be. I was an airline guy up until 2001 and then 9/11 came along and I got gutted. I thought I was going to be back in a year and granted, I took a different option, I came to I did this. But the fact of the matter is, most of the folks in my demographic group that was coming up through the ranks are all back in the airlines. They didn’t stay in corporate aviation. They decided to go back, part of that was the salaries and the schedule. Simple as that very, very easy. It’s a very easy formula.”

“Again, our battle, the competitive side of this thing, we have to show folks and demonstrate that – ‘Hey, look, I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve seen that every eight to 10 years, the airline industry takes a massive hit and if you don’t have enough seniority, or you’re on an airline, that’s not as stable as some of the big three players, that job to go away just like that. And by the way, when you switch from airline to airline, you start at the bottom. At least in corporate aviation, when you jump — if I work for Solaris today, and then let’s say four or five years, my count goes away and then ACI has a job and I apply and Kelly says ‘oh, this is a perfect candidate, I can pretty much make a parallel transfer, or if not, maybe make an advance from the G 550 to a G 600 or global 7500.'”

“You don’t get to do that in the airline industry. So there are a lot of benefits to our industry that we sort of have to capitalize on and sort of enticing the pilot group. That will be a goal for us as an industry moving forward.”

Kellee: “Couldn’t agree more with that, Tom, and you’re hired by the way? It is quality of life, which is a balancing act between salary and schedule, which both ultimately are costs, right? Because the better schedule you provide, the more pilots you have to hire. So there’s a cost to that. It’s a struggle for all of us in the industry to compete with the airlines. We actually, during COVID, saw five or six of our pilots that had moved to the airlines, and they left on good terms, they called up and said, ‘Hey, you know, is there an opening for me to come back?'”

“And we were experiencing some growth after the June, July August timeframe. And we said, yeah, come on back, what’s your timeline? Just be honest with us! And they said, well, probably two years. I think that’ll work for us. So we had some good teammates return but they all plan to go back to the airlines. And when you ask them why that is, it’s exactly what Tom said it’s the predictability of schedule and a long-term path to a higher salary.”

“However, once you make it to the really ultra long-range cabin aircraft, the Global’s or the Gulfstreams, you can be pretty competitive with the airlines. For the most part, if you have a good aircraft owner – that’s one of the reasons we’re somewhat picky and who we choose to manage aircraft for. We’ve actually turned down a few aircraft in the last year because we want to know that that the clients fit well with our model and take care of our people.”

“We usually tell clients, like if you’re gonna have a two pilot account, you can fly about 300 hours a year, or keeping your pilots roughly on the road, 16 days a month, if you’re keeping them on the road more than 16 days a month, or flying much heavier than 300 hours, then we’re going to come to talk to you about either a greatly increased contract pilot budget or having a third full-time pilot. And that’s kind of what we shoot for. And it seems to work pretty well.”

Tom: “That is spot on! You know, that 300 hours to 16-17 days a month, if that’s consistently happening your pilot team is not going to be happy. It’s too much. Some people will say, I call them the accounting guy, he’s crunching the numbers all day long and say ‘oh, that’s not efficient. We need 18 days or we need 20 days.’ You know what, that doesn’t work from a quality of life. That’s not when you’re sitting on the road and you’re in Katmandu, and then you’re in Dubai and then you’re in England. You’re switching timezones constantly on some of these large Kevin aircraft, it’s brutal. It’s a hard lifestyle and not having that downtime – usually, it’s a revolving door of pilots on that account.”

Kellee: “Pulling it back to the growth through adversity. I think COVID is not over yet. And, you know, we just had an IS-BAO audit last week and the auditor was a United Airlines pilot that had taken a two-year leave and become an auditor during that time. He’s also managing an aircraft, a small flight department, so we had a lot in common and it was fun to work with him. He mentioned that he’s going back to United and as soon as two years, whatever you call this is like a voluntary furlough, that these guys could take. He said that they’re already starting classes again and that there’s going to be a huge wave of hiring at all of the major airlines. So I think the story is not over. I think Tom and I are both going to see if we don’t figure out that a way to retain people and make private aviation comparable, and in the pilots’ eyes to what the airlines offer, we’re going to see another massive outflow of pilots from corporate to the airlines. And so, I think you have to find clients that really want high-quality people and are willing to pay for them, both in schedule and salary. That’s what it comes down to.”

Now as an organization, what do we need to do?

Krister: “We talked about working from home, we talked about attracting the right people, pilots. Now moving forward, what’s your advice to another startup or organization looking at ‘Okay, what do we need to do now when we pass this the toughest part of this? What do we need to do now to be prepared?'”

Neil: “If I had the long term answer, I’d be a billionaire. But the I think, you know, the adversity is going to be there, it’s about staying the course, getting involved, understanding your business, understanding what the needs of your business are, to be able to accommodate and adjust for any kind of fluctuations.”

“It’s about staying the course, and to me, giving advice to whether it be a person who’s thinking about starting up or career advice to an individual who’s trying to get into the market, it’s going to be the same thing – You can’t let the adversity stop you in your tracks, you have to be able to sit down and plan and look far enough down the road. But focus, somewhere in between you have to be able to actually execute on what you’re asking to be done.”

“Life’s adversity and life’s challenges go into the business market as well, to be able to continue along those lines. And look, aviation, at least business aviation in the United States, or even aviation, commercial aviation, forget about it, I think they’re, they’re still dinosaurs, right? They’re still printing out dispatch releases, and those kinds of crazy things that you see at the airport. But, you know, business, aviation has always been embracing technology. We fly significantly advanced aircraft and we need to embrace technology so we can get to that next level, and be able to utilize technology to be able to be agile in the work in our business on a daily basis.”

Kellee: I think you have to have Web Manuals to survive. You have to have products like Web Manuals, you know, I’m not being paid to be here. I think you have to continue to invest in technology, you have to continue to – it’s what the military we call a force multiplier, right. We used to publish manuals with three people in three days, to make sure everything’s correct. And now we can do it with one person and few hours. You have to continue to invest in things that provide leveraged returns like that. So I make an investment here, and I get 5x in either time, or money, which it’s all the same thing.”

“So you have to find products like Web Manuals, like the scheduling systems that integrate well, vertically. That’s what it’s all about. And because private aviation is a small industry, you don’t have the mass-market appeal that you would have with Microsoft Word. We don’t have the maturity in some of our software systems that you have in other industries. And it’s tough, you know, I get hit up every other day for some new scheduling platform that is very immature and doesn’t do half of what our current system does. There are these just off the shelf great solutions. You have to invest time in finding the right products and then implementing the right way to use them.”

“I know with Web Manuals, I set that up for our company and it’s still a struggle sometimes to get people to use it the way it should be used. Just because that’s not something they do every day, but I think you have to make that commitment to ‘This is how the product is supposed to be used. This is how we’re going to use it. Here’s a guide. Here’s a style guide, here’s some workflows.’ But it’s a good product. And a lot of that is done for you, just through the functionality of the system. So I wish all of our software worked as well as Web Manuals.”

Tom: “All I can say is ‘Don’t let the IT world overtake what you’re trying to do. Because at the end of the day, this is a relationship business. That’s a real key point. Krister, the way you are as a person was a big selling point for me. When we signed up for Web Manuals? You were just you were straight up, a good man to talk to and I appreciated that versus some sales pitch IT guy, regurgitating some digital information that just made me nauseated. So kudos.”

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