HEBER CITY, UT -- Knowing who the customer is and what the customer's wants and needs are can be key to operating any business. For OK3AIR, with three locations throughout Utah including Heber City, establishing a business plan around its ideal customer is what marketing specialist William Hosack says will allow this fixed base operator to flourish.
With sights set on expansion throughout the U.S., OK3AIR leverages its services and Nadim AbuHaidar, president of OK3AIR, purchased Wasatch Aero, located at Heber City Municipal Airport, in mid-2000. Soon after, he purchased Great Western Aviation and its locations at Salt Lake City International, Odgen-Hinckley, Bountiful, and Logan airports. Vice president of operations Greg Petersen joined the company in 2001.
AbuHaidar and Petersen met while serving together in the United States Navy; both attended Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun).
In 2003, AbuHaidar combined Wasatch Aero and Great Western Aviation into one company, OK3AIR. Since then, the number of locations has been pared down to better fit the company's business model, says Hosack, with operations remaining at Heber, Ogden, and Salt Lake City. In total, the company employs some 80 people, including flight instructors, maintenance workers, aircraft salespeople, and charter pilots.
The OK3AIR name came after much thought and deliberation, says Petersen. According to the company's website, "In carrier-based Naval Aviation, the perfect landing is referred to as an OK (underlined). On most aircraft carriers, the 3 wire is the target wire on the ship's optical landing system. Together, an OK3 is a perfect landing. In more than 80 years of Naval Aviation, OK3s have accounted for less than one half of one percent of all carrier landings."
Service, Location Variety
The company's 15,000-sq. foot facility at Salt Lake City International provides a variety of services, except fuel, says Hosack, with maintenance and charter sales providing the bulk of activity.
The Heber location, conveniently located near the popular ski areas of Park City, The Canyons, Sundance, and Deer Valley, includes a 12,000-sq.ft. building and two hangars. A brand new 14,000-sq.ft. facility attached to one of the hangars will allow for a new passenger/pilot area and future growth and will be opened in the first quarter of 2005.
OK3AIR is the only FBO on the field in Heber, along with several other tenants, including the Heber Valley Aero Museum. Heber Valley Airport is the company's primary location and "closest to our prime demographic," says Hosack.
At Ogden Airport, OK3AIR is one of two fuel providers on the field, which makes fuel sales a little "tighter" here than at Heber, says Hosack.
Fuel margins at both Ogden and Heber have been "hit pretty hard" as the cost of oil remains high, says Petersen. While the company has been able to pass that increase along somewhat at Heber because it is the only operator and it is a resort region, competition at Ogden has made it nearly impossible to do the same.
Accounting for all three locations is consolidated, with the majority of revenue (25 percent) coming from fuel sales/line service. The maintenance operation also contributes some 25 percent, while the flight school and aircraft sales account for 20 percent each and the remaining 10 percent is attributed to charter sales. In total, OK3AIR pumps some 750,000 gallons of fuel (jet-A and avgas) annually. Petersen says fuel sales at Heber have doubled every year since OK3AIR took over operations.
On its charter certificate, OK3AIR has a Citation I, a Hawker 700, and two King Airs available. Hosack calls the King Air the "prime vehicle in this region."
For 2005, say Petersen and Hosack, much focus will be given to aircraft sales. The company is the official single-engine Cessna Aircraft dealer for the Central Rocky Mountain region.
Each location has its own attractive features; and, together, all three offer customers and the company flexibility to utilize each location and each employee in the best manner possible. "Not every location is always busy," explains Hosack. "We have the ability to move employees around to where they are needed most."
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