Company Profiles and Audio Interviews: No Plane No Gain

Utah Business Insurance Company Sandy, UT
Ron Nielsen, president and CEO of Utah Business Insurance Company, says his use of business aviation enables employees to meet with clients quicker, deal with situations faster and minimize time spent out of the office. “We have one critical tool that most people would not think of that makes all of this possible and helps us stay efficient and competitive – an airplane. It saves the company money and valuable time during the work week, sets us apart from our competitors and helps us follow up with networking opportunities throughout the country.” In total, he estimates business aviation saves the firm upwards of $200,000 to $300,000.

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Ron Nielsen

North Carolina Operator Saving Lives with Business Aircraft

No Plane No Gain frequently highlights the many economic benefits of aviation, but another positive aspect of the industry is the critical, life-saving role that business aircraft often play in air ambulance and medevac operations across the country. One of those operators is Charlotte, NC-based Jet Logistics, which flies Beechcraft King Air turboprops and Lear 35 and Hawker 800 jets. Although the company began in 2002 primarily as an aircraft-consulting firm and passenger charter operator, today Jet Logistics' AirEMS medevac operation represents its core business. "We consistently fly more than 60 hours per month on patient transport missions, and we also provide emergency organ transportation services," said W. Ashley Smith Jr., company founder, president and operations director. [Read more about Jet Logistics].

North Dakota Enterprises
In a state as large as North Dakota, having an airplane for business can be a critical asset to the success of a company. Cody L. Fleck and his wife Jamie Fleck, of Mandan, own two businesses: Trucks Trailers and More and a specialty staffing company called Dakota Travel Nurse. “I’d been thinking about buying a company airplane,” said Cody Fleck. “Then one day we had a meeting that was six and a half hours away [by car]. We were literally 10 minutes out [from the destination] when they called and postponed the meeting, so we drove six and a half hours back, then six and a half hours to the meeting the next day.” Jamie Fleck, who had previously been unenthusiastic about having a business airplane, changed her mind that day. “The airplane helps us please our clients by getting to them much faster than if we had to drive,” said Cody Fleck. 

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with North Dakota Enterprises

Daryl M Williams, Atty
Daryl M. Williams is not your average attorney. As he joins his videographer, court reporter, client and witness on a typical business flight, you soon see why. On these flights, business class means flying a Cessna 421C and the pilot is Williams himself. 

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Atty. Daryl M. Williams

LaBov and Beyond
Business aviation enables LaBov and Beyond (, a small marketing and communications firm in Fort Wayne, Ind., to compete for clients with large firms in New York, Chicago and all around the country. “Our business aircraft gives us a chance to be a local company to clients, even though we’re 400 miles away,” says CEO Barry LaBov.“We don’t have a private plane, we have a business jet.”

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Labov and Beyond's Barry Labov

Neil Hise, CEO, CEMCO
“I do it,” says Neil Hise. “Lots of other companies do, too.”

Hise is talking about companies that donate flights in their business aircraft so sick children and adults can reach specialized medical help. Flights are always without cost to the passenger.

Hise is CEO and president of family-owned CEMCO, Inc., a Belen, N.M.-based manufacturer of vertical shaft impact crushers and other specialty equipment that relies on a King Air C90 for business. He also uses the plane to help people in need.

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with CEMCO's Neil Hise

Autism Escapes

Parents of children with severe autism describe business jet travel as a ‘near-miracle’ for allowing their children to get the medical help they need.  

“There are so few places in the country with the sub-specialized care these children need,” says Dr. Paul Abend, a New Jersey physician with an autistic child of his own. “So how do you get the child to such a clinic? You might survive 45 minutes in a car, but the clinic nearest us would be a six-hour drive.” 

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Autism Escape’s Dr. Abend

Waste Reduction Technologies
Waste Reduction Technologies (WRT) of Baton Rouge, La., makes high-tech incinerators that ease the overload on municipal landfills. Since most WRT customers are small cities or towns without airline service, the company needs its Mitsubishi MU-2 Marquise turboprop airplane.  

Also included in this profile: an audio interview with WRT owner Riley Hagan

'Flying Adventures' Magazine

“I could not accomplish a quarter of what I do if it weren’t for my business airplane,” says Dr. Michael Higgins, CEO and publisher of Flying Adventures, a travel magazine. Earlier this year, his company’s airplane helped him fulfill an unexpected meeting request, received while he was in a conference with another client. It required only a 20-minute hop from one non-commercial airport to another, over a few mountain ridges. “It would have taken three hours by car,” Dr. Higgins said.

 Also included in this profile: an audio interview with Flying Adventures magazine CEO and publisher Dr. Michael Higgins

Modular Devices

Every year, a million or more men and women in the U.S. undergo “cardiac catheterization,” always in a high-tech hospital “cath lab.”  Big-city hospitals usually have several cath labs, but hospitals in smaller communities typically have only one. Modular Devices of Indianapolis, builds mobile cath labs, renting them to single-lab hospitals in smaller communities. The company relies on a Mitsubishi MU-2 turboprop to serve the hospitals, which are located in towns that are often without airline service.

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Modular Devices’ Greg Mink

Aircell employs nearly 400 people in the production of airborne high-speed Internet and clear mobile voice communications equipment that can be found in more than 5,000 business airplanes in the U.S.
"Companies invest in business aviation to achieve greater productivity, and Aircell is the catalyst that helps make that productivity possible," says Aircell marketing director Tom Myers. "With our communications solutions, companies have the world in their hand and can continue working without compromise any time they travel." 

Also included with this profile: an audio interview featuring aviation industry experts about how thousands of companies like Aircell contribute to the nation's employment and economic base.

Desert Jet
A few years ago, Denise Wilson had a day job; to relieve stress, she took flying lessons.

“Flying was a hobby then,” she says.  “But before I knew it I had my private pilot certificate, instrument rating and commercial pilot certificate.” A multiengine rating and an instructor certificate followed, but the practical Denise still clung to her day job.  

Also included in this profile: an audio interview with Denise Wilson

Restaurant Equipment World
Using a single-engine, turbocharged Cirrus Design SR-22, Restaurant Equipment World CEO Brad Pierce travels much of the country. “If somebody’s going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with us, they want to deal with somebody they know, somebody they trust,” he says. Although the restaurant supply industry has been down 41% last year alone, Pierce’s Orlando, Fla.-based small business is showing double-digit growth.   

Also included in this profile: an audio interview with Restaurant Equipment World CEO Brad Pierce

Brown Church Development Group
Based in Kearney, Neb., Brown Church Development Group uses business aircraft to maintain close relationships with their clientele.  Ministry development coordinator Bernie Reed:  “I just can’t tell you how important it is for us to get face-to-face with all the people at a church, sometimes on short notice.”  

Also included in this profile: an audio interview with Brown's ministry development coordinator, Bernie Reed


Not all business aircraft are flown to increase a company’s business. Some operators, in fact, would prefer not to bring in more customers.

“We transport critically ill patients,” said Pam Hillen, a flight nurse for ThedaStar, the helicopter medical service of ThedaCare, Inc. in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin. “We all work very hard to discourage new business. But tragedy touches everyone’s life, and when it does, we’re ready.”

Also included in this profile is an audio interview with ThedaStar staff

Special Services Corporation
When entrepreneurs in Greenville, S.C., gathered at an expo to showcase the value of small- and mid-sized companies to the area’s economy, one businessman looked to the event as an opportunity to highlight how a strategic asset – business aviation – helps many of those companies succeed. 

Union Pacific
To help support its business on the nation’s train rails, this company looks to the skies.  Union Pacific crews often charter business aircraft when a time-sensitive situation arises.

Also included in this profile is an audio interview with Union Pacific's Zoe Richmond

Air Ambulance Worldwide
Business aircraft are used in a variety of ways, some of which might not occur to most people. Consider Air Ambulance Worldwide, based in Palm Harbor, Fla.. Its president, Mark Jones, says: “Most people never see us, so they don’t know we exist. We don’t save business deals at 41,000 feet; we save lives at 41,000 feet.”

Also included in this profile is an audio interview with Mark Jones and Dana Payne of Air Ambulance Worldwide

MES Group
MES Group, in Houston, offers independent medical evaluations, many for veterans applying for compensation or pensions. The company also provides free business jet transportation service for disabled veterans returning from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. What do the veterans have to say about MES, and the many companies like it across the U.S., which use business airplanes to offer free flights for those in need? Alicia Camp, an MES Group employee, says the vets “Can’t believe so many companies in the U.S. with business airplanes would donate them for these flights.”

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Alicia Camp and Al Bradley of MES Group, and also Walt Fricke with Veterans Airlift Command.

Stuart Woods
For writer Stuart Woods, who has an unbroken string of 29 novels on the New York Times best seller list, using his Cessna Citation Mustang business jet for book research and signing events makes perfect sense. Woods cites the efficiency and flexibility of building his own travel schedule, and his ability to fly directly to his destinations.

Also included in this profile: an audio interview with best-selling novelist and pilot Stuart Woods

United Network of Organ Sharing
“It’s quite often you’ll see business airplanes and helicopters transporting organs, because organs have a very limited time they can survive outside the body,” said Anne Paschke, spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a national group coordinating organ and tissue transplants.

Paladin Data
Paladin Data, for example, is a small, but vigorous IT company in Bend, Ore. It designs and sells Point-of-Sale (POS) software for two specialty markets: locally-owned hardware stores and independent pharmacies, many in small towns across the nation. Paladin founder Dan Nesmith says: “Virtually every small town has a home town airport that allows us to get to our customers and prospects quickly and easily. Our airplane lets us optimize our time, perform more business in a shorter period of time. There is no other way to achieve those goals without the use of general aviation.”

SMH Consultants
SMH Consultants, an engineering firm headquartered in Manhattan, KS. Of the hundreds of small towns, cities and counties in the SMH Consultants 6,000 square-mile service area, most have a small general aviation airport nearby. Only a few – very few – have any scheduled airline service and taking an airline flight takes considerable advance planning. So, the company relies on its airplane, a Cessna 172, to quickly reach clients located hours away. “Flying a company airplane is a distinct business advantage,” reports SMS President Jeff Hancock. 

Coble Trench Safety

Coble Trench Safety CEO Tom Coble credits the company’s King Air B200 with the steady growth of the business, even in a challenging economy. “It’s those face-to-face meetings with customers,” said Coble. “Nothing will ever take the place of that. Without our business airplane, we could never have grown this quickly. The airplane is a business tool,” he added. “If it wasn’t, I couldn’t justify it. It is a vital asset to our company.”

Edwards Group, Inc.
Steve K. Edwards, 45, is a busy entrepreneur based in Seneca, S.C. Edwards Group, Inc. employs more than 300 people across the country in enterprises as diverse as radio stations, newspapers, web printing services and real estate. Without his company’s single-engine turboprop Pilatus PC-12 airplane, he says, he’d be “dead in the water…I suppose we’d have to drive, or take the airlines, but I can guarantee we’d be losing money that way,” he says. “Our airplane is our time machine.”

Custom Audio and Lighting, Inc.

Andy Sykora, owner of Greenwood, S.C.-based Custom Audio and Lighting, Inc., calls his 1978 turbocharged piston single-engine airplane “indispensible,” because it gives his audio and lighting company a competitive and logistical edge needed to support for major outdoor productions. “The flexibility our business airplane gives us is invaluable,” he said. The 1978 turbocharged piston single-engine airplane is fully equipped for flight in most weather conditions. Sykora said. “It’s a working airplane for us, a business tool we couldn’t do without.”

Also included in this profile: an audio interview with Custom Audio and Lighting, Inc., owner Andy Sykora.

McKinney Automotive

Tim McKinney of McKinney Automotive keeps his North and South Carolina car dealerships supplied with quality used cars by using a twin-engine turboprop King Air C90A and a single-engine piston Bonanza A36 to travel to two or three car auctions a week. “We’re always trying to find enough used cars to keep our dealerships going,” McKinney said. “I can get in my plane in the morning, buy 10 cars and be back in the afternoon to be able to run my businesses in the evening. If I didn’t have our airplanes, I’d have to lay off employees and probably sell one of my stores. The airplane is my best partner, it really is – it helps me do my job, and without it, I couldn’t do my job.”

Also included in this profile: an audio interview with McKinney Automotive President Tim McKinney. 

General Pallet

In an opinion column in the New Jersey newspaper Times of Trenton, a company CEO advocating on behalf of business aviation compared the importance of his company’s airplane to one of the wooden pallets his firm makes. Much like pallets, he said, “most people know little about the benefits of owning and operating a small aircraft, which can also be a valuable business tool for a small company by increasing access to both customers and suppliers,” wrote Don Baldwin, managing partner of General Pallet, of Flemington, NJ. “Having a business airplane allows a company to do more, achieve more and be more profitable.” [Read more about General Pallet’s use of business aviation].

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with CEO Don Baldwin

Luck Stone
Luck Stone is a family-owned company, quarrying and refining quality stone for customers nationwide. Based just northwest of Richmond, Virginia, the business has relied on a company airplane since 1971 and currently uses a Beech King Air 350. "It's so hard to take a whole stone quarry to a client," says company VP Jay Coffman, tongue-in-cheek. "So we're using our company airplane to bring customers here, to see the product for themselves, meet us and understand the Luck Stone culture."

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Luck Stone's Jay Coffman and Chief Pilot Scott Moore.

Manitoba Corporation
Some specialized tools help Manitoba, a family-owned metals recycling company in Lancaster, N.Y., stay competitive.

On a recent tour of the company's facilities, President Richard Shine proudly displayed several implements – a unique crane, a second machine that houses a "chopping line" and a metal scanner – all of which help Manitoba process more scrap types into more end products with a greater level of purity than many other recyclers can.

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Manitoba Corp.'s Richard Shine

Water Valley Land Company
Northern Colorado has a thriving economy and a booming real estate market. However, people are drawn to the region not just by the possibility for economic expansion, but to experience the breathtaking natural scenery and abundant recreational resources.

With a vision for smart growth designed to integrate mixed-use communities into the fabric of the region, Water Valley Land Company has more than 4,500 acres of master-planned commercial and residential communities that offer dramatic mountain views within the bustling corridor that encompasses Windsor, Loveland and Greeley.

Edit On Hudson

“Life in video is always a rush,” says Steve Kahn. “Media outlets are multiplying like rabbits and the Web is insatiable. Without my business airplane, I’d miss some of the juiciest jobs.”

Kahn owns Edit On Hudson, in Charlotte, North Carolina. His office is just 15 minutes southeast of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, convenient for airline flights. But when out-of-town assignments demand speed, he’ll often drive 40 minutes in the opposite direction to reach his own airplane, a 1981 Mooney 231. It’s well-equipped for flight in most weather conditions.

Also included with this profile: audio interviews with Edit-On-Hudson's Steve Kahn

Alan Josephsen Company
In 1978, Alan Josephsen started a recycling business for waste paper and cardboard. Today, in his Mundelein, Ill. plant, every ton of waste paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, two barrels of oil, 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity and about one-third of precious landfill space. “Those are the official figures for recycling just one single ton of waste paper,” says the businessman. “Every year, we recycle about 40,000 tons – you do the math.”

Also included with this profile: an audio interview with Alan Josephsen

Corporate Charters LLC
Cleveland-based Corporate Charters, LLC, demonstrates how business aviation helps companies be efficient and nimble, enabling them to compete in an unforgiving business marketplace. Business travelers who absolutely, positively must be somewhere as quickly as possible make up about 85 percent of the company’s customers. “We are living proof of our industry’s slogan: ‘No Plane, No Gain,’” says Mike Marcellino, the company’s sales VP.

Also included in this profile: audio interview with Corporate Charters VP Mike Marcellino

Bahamas Habitat
Nearly 100 small- and medium-size U.S. businesses are helping fight the cholera epidemic in Haiti, using their company airplanes to deliver water filters and water purification units directly to suffering Haitians in rural areas. Using the aircraft, volunteers can bypass time-consuming ground distribution procedures.  
Gene Schmidt, owner of Schmidt Consulting Group, Inc. in Pensacola, Fla., said, “Our company works all over the southeast U.S., and our business airplane is invaluable. But as soon as I heard about [the disaster in Haiti], I knew I could use it to help.”
Also included in this profile: an audio interview with John Armstrong and Cameron King of Bahamas Habitat, and Gastroenterologist Richard McLaughlin.

Advantage Techonologies
For Bryan Currier, the 28-year-old president of Advantage Technologies, Inc., a Troy, Michigan-based medical information technology (IT) consulting firm, mobility means everything.

That’s because Currier must be able to visit, often on short notice, the host of small- and medium-size health care practitioners who are scattered across the Upper Midwest and rely on his computer support services to keep their IT systems running smoothly.

MI Windows and Doors
MI (formerly Metal Industries) Windows and Doors, which started fabricating window screens in a Florida airplane hangar in 1947, has grown to become a supplier to some of the nation's largest homebuilders. The company has prospered, thanks in part to a business model that relies on a company airplane (a Cessna Citation III) to link its Pennsylvania plants and headquarters, where 750 people work, with a series of dispersed manufacturing operations located in rural communities where windows and doors can be produced with a quality workforce.

Apogee Medical Group
Everyone wants to receive the best healthcare possible. But patients whose nearest medical facility is a regional hospital with 200 or fewer beds may not have access to the specialists they need. And the medical knowledge base has expanded so much in recent years that general practitioners cannot be expected to know everything necessary to completely care for a patient.

  2015 No Plane No Gain
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