Waiting and watching have been the underlying themes in my travels to facilities and industry shows the first part of 2003. Members of the ground support industry are waiting for the economy to improve, waiting for air travel to increase, watching the war in Iraq unfold and hoping for its speedy conclusion, and more recently, waiting for the mystery illness, SARS, to come under control. There is apprehension out there as many are waiting, not moving forward or back, to see what else can be thrown at the airline industry.
What we all must be mindful of is waiting too long for business. We've all heard (or experienced firsthand) the stories of companies that are just staying afloat this year - making it, order to order. Yet, there have been some success stories borne out of these turbulent times.
One such example was a refreshing visit that Michelle Garetson, editor of Ground Support Magazine, and I had with a ground support supplier who isn't playing the waiting game. They have used this time as a challenge and have actually made their company better. They've revamped their organization and management team, remodeled and restructured their plant, and have diversified their offerings to include completely new services for the airline and aviation industry. They've also implemented measures to invest in new programs for their employees. And, as a result, their employees are more productive, they're hitting budgets, and actually having some fun.
Other suppliers are doing the same - looking to new avenues for customers they hadn't previously served, such as the military. Many suppliers have gone global in a major way. The suppliers who are finding success are not waiting to do business just as they've always done it. They know if they wait too long, they won't be around when business returns.
As a part of the ground support industry, we too have had to diversify, improve what we offer, and get creative for our customers - while staying true to what we were founded on. I am truly looking forward to meeting with you at the annual GSE International Expo, the 13th-15th of this month in Las Vegas. The waiting game is over. Let's get out and share ideas, and look to the business ahead.
Thank you to the suppliers that have graciously welcomed us into their offices and facilities. The visits have been invaluable and we look forward to continue with our customer calls.
There's a new business model emerging, not just for the airlines, but for ground support and ground handling as well.
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