Leaders to the nth Degree

Harbinger, bellwhether, counselor, luminary, maestro ... all are synonyms for the term leader and all describe the 2008 winners of the Ground Support Leaders of the Year awards.


“This is the 10th anniversary of Sage Parts, so it’s very fitting that Mark is receiving this award,” Michael Bloomfield, major shareholder, Sage Parts proclaims. “Always finding ways to bring cost reduction and enhanced service improvement to its customers, Mark continually challenges his organization to re-think the way it does its business.

“He is reshaping the way GSE industry parts are sold and distributed throughout the industry. Through his innovative approach, processes and use of technology, he was able to dramatically change the supply of GSE parts, in essence creating an aftermarket which didn’t exist before.”

Safety Leader of the Year Award — for a person or company that has introduced a new method, procedure or product to improve industry safety records.

Shawn Mack began his career at Banyan Air Service located at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in 1996. For seven years he worked as a line service technician, then received a promotion to shift supervisor. In 2006, he was promoted to director of training, responsible for all phases of line service training procedures. In this role, Mack works closely with shift supervisors and line technicians to ensure that every technician performs to specific standards.

Through developing and refining procedures, raising the level of customer service and reinforcing policies, Banyan has experienced constant growth and change — so has Mack. He routinely meets with other FBO managers who participate in NATA training to discuss ways to improve procedures and increase safety, which has apparently paid off.

With a 10-year safety record of zero incidents or runway incursions, he was awarded an Airport Operations Area (AOA) award last year.

Annual training conducted by the airport administration and coordinated through Mack ensures that all 37 line service technicians and six customer support specialists are AOA certified, meaning they can conduct movements on the airport operations area and assist customers at customs. The current deficiency of experienced line service technicians has produced a challenge, making it necessary to train new technicians on the entire scope of line service procedures. However, Mack has risen to this challenge and his dedication to training is evident in the safety record of the line technicians Banyan employs.

“Safety is defined as averting injury, danger or loss. What greater goal is there in the role of safety for everyone in this industry?” Mack says. “During my 10 years as manager, I have concluded that the only way to successfully complete a task is to develop a standard, train employees and ensure that the standard is followed.”

With an average of 100 aircraft movements per day, Banyan needed a refined spotting procedure to improve aircraft movements. Without a standard for spotting aircraft and marshaling, the line technicians would perform these tasks differently. Mack worked with veteran teammates to expand their spotting procedure and developed a series of step-by-step actions which supplement the information in the NATA Safety 1st® training video. The new spotting procedure is conducted during training sessions and results in the tug drivers feeling confident in their spotters and an improved safety record.

His continued education includes the NATA “Train the Trainer” course and a leadership training course.

Team Leader of the Year Award — similar to the original Leader of the Year Award, this title is for an individual who has taken a leadership role with personnel.

Larry Laney began his career with Southwest Airlines in 1987 as the Dallas-region GSE foreman and was quickly promoted to various GSE manager positions prior to his current role, director of ground support for Southwest Airlines. With a total of 22 years in the GSE industry, Laney has a wealth of experience and is considered a true pioneer by his peers. According to friend and colleague, Debra Yates, Laney developed a very strong maintenance program at Southwest, in part because he surrounds himself with exceptional talent. However, according to Laney, “I guess the secret of being a great team leader is to have your team sit close to the beer. Honestly, I feel I have the best team in the industry.”

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