Ever Evolving: Successful moving freight, Castle Aviation adds a passenger division

Ever Evolving Successful moving freight, Castle Aviation adds a passenger division By John F. Infanger July 2002 Michael Grossmann NORTH CANTON, OH - Michael H. Grossmann has tried just about every general aviation...


Ever Evolving

Successful moving freight, Castle Aviation adds a passenger division

By John F. Infanger

July 2002

Michael Grossmann
Michael Grossmann

NORTH CANTON, OH - Michael H. Grossmann has tried just about every general aviation business, from flight training to a full-service fixed base operation. He's tried a few airports as well. Along the way, he came to realize that his company was best at charter, particularly freight. Since moving to the Akron-Canton Airport here, he has discovered an airport that's providing reasons for a long-term commitment. Now, he's branching out with a passenger business.

Grossmann, 49, started out as a firefighter, but followed an interest in flying. An automobile accident in 1983 served as the personal catalyst to take the plunge into his own business, as a broker under the Air Medical Transport name.
"I was an EMT (emergency medical technician) when I was with the fire department, so I became an air ambulance broker. At the same time, I wound up with a pilot service and management deal on a Navajo, which really got us developed," he recalls.
For two years, he continued firefighting as well. In 1986, he formed Castle Aviation in pursuit of an FBO contract at the New Castle, PA, airport. He kept the name but didn't get the contract.
"We went to a meeting and it was kind of like, you're going to become the FBO tonight. And I went in there and they just blindsided me and the other guy got it. I just walked away absolutely stunned," he explains.
"It was the first railroad job I ever got in my business career."
With the charter business continuing to grow, Grossmann decided to abandon the rapidly changing air medical business. In time, he also discovered that moving freight could be more reliable and considerably easier than moving passengers.

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He also got his full-service FBO. From 1989 until 1992, Castle Aviation was based at the downtown Akron Fulton Airport, before being forced out when the city decided it wanted the property for other use. With the country in a recession, Castle Aviation downsized from 22 employees to three, according to Grossmann. He would then redeploy the company at nearby Portage County Airport.
"I reevaluated everything," he says. "I looked at what was it that made the most money over the years? It was charter, so I decided to get rid of everything else in 1992 and became a charter company."
In April of that year, he was awarded a contract with The New York Times to run newspapers to Hamilton, Ontario, a contract Castle Aviation still has.
"That was the beginning of our recovery. That's when we got pretty hot and heavy moving freight. Kitty Hawk came into existence and we started flying automotive freight daily for them. Three-quarters of my business then was with Kitty Hawk."

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