March 25, 2015

One of the Hardest Jobs I Know of...



Life is always interesting; sometimes fun; sometimes frustrating and sometimes rewarding. But life has a funny way of reminding you of who you are, who you hope to be some day, but most recently for me, who I used to be.

I have been so extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to have spent the last 16 years with Atlantic, in its different versions (Million Air, Million Air/Atlantic and finally – Atlantic). I came on board as the GM of Farmingdale, became a Regional Manager, then a Regional Director and now serve as Vice President of Operations, Eastern Region.

As a Vice President I have found myself making decisions on a greater scale than ever, negotiating complex multi-city fuel deals, Union contracts, assisting in the acquisitions of other FBO’s and watching our company grow and mature in so many ways into the major aviation company it is today.

I have been fortunate to have had many opportunities unfold before me. But life has a way of reminding you….

Some of you may have heard, but on Jan 8th of this year one of my dearest co-workers was in a bad car accident. I am happy to report that he is well on his way to recovery and beginning to transition back into his full time job with Atlantic. However, as of January 9th 2015 I found myself immediately thrust into the role of General Manager at one of Atlantic’s largest bases.

This base pumps about 900,000 gallons a month in a very competitive market, at the time was in the middle of a $5,000,000 lobby renovation and suffering through one of the worst winters in the Northeast.

Every day the hard working staff would look to me for direction and decisions. Customers who were frustrated with hangars that are 120% full would ring my phone. Aviation regulators were ever present and for all of the right reasons, seemed to make life so difficult. Employees called in sick, some had to be disciplined, and some were promoted. I fielded calls about the overtime at the base and various expenses that we tried to predict months ago. Passengers had to have their needs tended to, market share discussions were held with the Corporate Office, and equipment always seemed to pick the worst time to act up. The list goes on and on…..

It reminded me of what it was like to be a GM.

So what exactly is a GM?

A GM is a construction manager, a salesman, a finance manager, a labor arbiter, a mentor, a leader, and sometimes an interior designer. A GM needs to be able to anticipate needs and pay attention to every detail. A GM is the go to problem solver for almost any situation you can imagine in the universe of aviation. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and never far from their cell phone.

After a couple of weeks filling in I realized what I had learned some ten years ago:

The GM position may quite possibly be one of the hardest jobs I have ever had, and perhaps one of the hardest jobs around period.

But, there is something about being around airplanes. When everyone is working hard doing their part, the sun is shining, fuel trucks and equipment are moving from plane to plane, everyone on the team is moving with purpose, and all with a common goal. There is truly nothing else like it. Nothing is quite so rewarding when it all comes together.

So yes, it is one of the hardest jobs I’ve known. But for me, it has also been the most rewarding. That’s why a lot of us have worked so long and hard to get the job, and then even harder to be successful at it. It’s also why we are so thrilled when someone we have developed over the years becomes one.

So I have come away with a renewed respect for those folks who sit in the GM chair, at the center of the storm, leading the way forward, day in and day out.

Truly one of the hardest jobs I know of….