Business Airplane ‘A Win’ For This Company
Interview with Jeff Hancock, President of SMH Consultants, an engineering firm headquartered in Manhattan, KS.
Jeff Hancock is president of SMH Consultants, an engineering firm headquartered in Manhattan. Not New York’s Manhattan – this is the Kansas Manhattan.
“We’re able to serve the clients in western Kansas and Oklahoma the way we do because we have a business airplane,” he says. “SMH is posting 20-percent growth, year to year, in part because we can get to our clients in rural areas quickly with the airplane, while our competition stays in their urban area. Flying a company airplane is a distinct business advantage.”
The company web site also touts the firm’s go-anywhere capability. “In the last three years,” it says, “our employees have worked in every county except three in Kansas. We at SMH Consultants go where you need us.” The firm keeps 18 full-time and a few part-time employees hopping every day, working with clients from Edmund, Okla. to Colby, Kan..
“And all the small towns and counties in between,” says Hancock. “Before we got the airplane, I’d usually drive to those locations, which involved overnights most of the time. It was quite cumbersome and taxing on me personally.”
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.
“It would be an all-day event, trying to get to one of our client’s cities by airline,” says Hancock. “If I wanted to go to, say, Garden City, Kan., I’d have to wake up long before daylight and catch the first of two airline flights to Dallas, which leaves at 6:30 a.m. I’d wait in Dallas for the regional commuter to Garden City and get there at about 2:30 p.m.”
“But if I fly our company airplane to Garden City, I can be on the ground and working by 10 a.m.”
He mentioned a recent panicked call from one of the firm’s clients with a wastewater treatment plant under construction. Something had gone wrong, and the client was asking for a site visit as quickly as possible. “We got the call at 10 a.m.,” said Hancock, “and we were on the site by noon. If we’d had to drive that trip, we wouldn’t have been there till 3:30 p.m. at the earliest.”
“Having a business airplane means I can be home every night, and that’s a value that’s not measurable,” he says. “And if my company can respond to our client’s problems more quickly, we can be on site more quickly, and we can be face-to-face with our clients much more easily.”
“A business airplane has been a win for my company and for me. It’s a win-win all the way around.”