J&B Aviation Services concentrates on the supply of GSE components and 400Hz equipment, with a strong focus on customer service. The company has reason for celebration, marking the 20th year of its business — which happens to be booming. Looking back on its history, the company discusses its business model and strategy for the future.
J&B Aviation opened in 1991 in Fairfield, California. It quickly established a place in the North American GSE component market, steadily expanding both services and customer base since. In 2002, the company became a member of the ITW (Illinois Tool Works) GSE group, which includes other industry names such as Hobart Ground Power, Trilectron Industries, AXA Power, Air-A-Plane, ITW Military GSE, and Houchin Aerospace. This has allowed J&B to work hand-in-hand with other group members to enhance services, while remaining an independent business unit with its own offerings and capabilities.
While J&B provides several services to the ground support industry, the company’s largest focus is the distribution of components. The company provides a variety of components, including 400Hz power cables, PCAir ducts, potable water and lavatory hoses and couplers, and various other accessory products.
According to David Janis, controller at J&B, these products are the center of the business. “The day-to-day sales of all the cables and connectors and hoses — those consumable products are the main, original driver that started the company and continue to be the mainstay of our sales today.” While grasping opportunities to expand services, the company remains firmly focused on this market.
Janis says J&B has found a successful niche in the market by offering a wide range of products that are immediately available. “A customer can know that they can come to J&B for one-stop shopping,” he says. “They know the quality is there and that we have it ready to ship within 24 to 48 hours.”
The company is able to offer short turn times on orders by keeping the necessary volumes in stock. “Our ability to hold larger quantities of the most-needed inventory has really helped out, because airlines have cut their purchasing departments and their holding of inventory,” he explains.
400Hz and Project Design
The company is also a large supplier of 400Hz equipment, including gate boxes, line drop compensators, cables and motorized cable reels, all of which are used in central 400Hz systems. In addition to providing system components, it also provides assistance with system design, as well as engineering support and training on the systems. It has provided such services hundreds of times in the company’s 20-year history, according to Brian Piety, the company’s national sales manager.
When J&B provides systems designs for a customer, it is a comprehensive project plan. Janis explains that J&B will meet with the customer, design the necessary system in its entirety, lay out equipment needs from the units to the final component, installation verification, training and manuals. J&B has multiple resources and is able to provide the customer with comprehensive plans allowing them to foresee needs, and caters to whatever brand or style of unit the customer prefers, according to Janis.
“We basically run the full gamut of services with regard to the 400Hz ground support equipment side of the industry,” he says, adding, “We will specify the equipment, and come up with the entire design for that process, from end to end — everything from the main plant down to the final cable that’s being connected up to the aircraft for that power distribution.”
Selling a family-style business is never an easy decision, but six months after joining the ITW GSE Group, J&B Aviation's Al Janis tells Richard Rowe that he has no regrets.