Q: How did you get involved in the industry?
A: I started at JFK airport in 1992 with a company called Motor Age. We provided the first “single source supply” parts distribution company for a major airline. I was able to be part of the single source expansion into all major hub cities and was fortunate enough to start every one of them. We work in a wonderful industry that most people do not realize exists. People take for granted that all they have to do is get on a plane and land in the city of their choice. They do not realize that there is so much that goes on around them, from the time they hand over their bags to the time they land. The whole industry is a machine that is managed with precision from the baggage systems to the transfer process of the luggage onto the planes.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced over the years?
A: Sept. 11 was by far the biggest challenge we have faced as an industry. Everything had to change to keep what we do alive. I was at JFK that day and remember the tears on the faces of the employees. When the airports were closed, immediately each entry point was manned by armed guardsmen who checked credentials. It was a scary sight that I hope to never see again.
It took a huge effort to stay focused on what to do next. Over the years since that day, our industry has gone through some radical changes. Sage has been fortunate enough to help with the solutions the industry faced by providing parts and services that helped streamline the costs. We were able to withstand the challenges that day created by giving the customers the choices to make an educated decision.
Q: What do you favor most about working in this industry?
A: The dedicated people in GSE are amazing. When I visit a city, I love the interaction I have with mechanics who are always talking about a new piece of equipment or even the old die-hard units that are still in service. I am a parts man from way back and love to talk shop. I find the knowledge base of the mechanics in this industry incredible. They have to know electrical, hydraulic and all those specialized equipment functions — it never leaves a dull moment.
Q: What changes would you like to see made in the industry?
A: Environmental action is something I strongly believe in. Thanks to my daughter, Alexa, making sure I “Go Green.”
We all have a duty in this industry to ensure we are following the rules. We must all take it upon ourselves to do what is necessary to not destroy the environment. Alternative fuels, proper disposals, etc. — we all must do our part.
Overall the industry has done well in keeping up with the changes. We have done a lot to change the way business was done 15 years ago. It is important to do even more.
Q: What advice would you give to those new to the industry?
A: Make sure you study all there is to learn about the industry and how it works. We are part of an ever changing industry that has many people who are experts in a lot of the old equipment and its functionality. The knowledge base is shrinking as new equipment is being introduced with airlines able to budget in new equipment. It becomes more of a challenge to get employees who understand these new pieces of equipment. We, at Sage Parts, are constantly training staff as well as managers with the latest changes to the industry. Having educated employees and managers is key to having a successful organization.
Q: Who do you admire?
A: In GSE I have been lucky to work with and learn from some of the best.
When I started in this business, I worked for a man named Jack Scully. Jack was my mentor and had a heart of gold. He helped develop the single source theory, and we all lost a great man when Jack passed away.
Over the last 10 years both Mark Pollack and Michael Bloomfield have amazed me in what they have done in this industry. They taught me to stay focused, never lose sight of the big picture, and be true to the customer base. They introduced a formula that has grown Sage Parts from a bit player to a true leader in parts distribution.