A Seasoned Point of View
Blake Fish talks about industry changes, training, customer focus
By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director
DAYTONA BEACH, FL — Blake Fish is a man who has lived the FBO circuit. Back once again with Signature Flight Support, he helps direct the array of aviation businesses in the network from the company’s glass-paneled headquarters in Orlando. It belies his comfortable demeanor, which is more evident after a regular commute home to New Hampshire. The aviation services business is one about which he can talk.
Fish, 53, is currently the senior VP of
marketing and business development for Signature. He started his career
working as a passenger services rep while attending the University of
Maine and it soon turned into his first full-time aviation position. From
• worked as refueling supervisor at Atlantic Aviation in Philadelphia;
• served as ground services manager at Atlantic Wilmington (DE);
• served as operations manager at Combs-Gates Hartford and GM at Page Avjet Rochester;
• got into cargo development for Airport Systems/U.S. Airports;
• became regional vice president for "the new Butler," which was subsequently integrated into Signature Flight Support, formed by the merger of Butler Aviation and Page Avjet; and,
• headed up the flight support division of Atlantic Aviation for two years before returning to Signature.
Fish took a break during a Signature Flight University management training session to talk with AIRPORT BUSINESS. SFU is a joint training initiative of Signature and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Here are his edited comments.
The Changing Face of FBO Training
Signature Flight Support, which operates the largest chain of fixed base operations as well as maintenance bases and a large airline service division, several years ago embarked on a major revamping of its employee/management training. Today, its extensive program includes a companywide safety training effort and an initiative with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the Daytona Beach, FL, campus. FBO veteran Blake Fish recently shared his thoughts on the industry’s approach toward training.
"Traditionally, many FBOs had in place a process
where they handed new hires all the videotapes and said, go watch
them. But no one can assimilate training that way.
"The concept should be, I’m going to show you a video of what I’m going to go teach you. And then show you the video that gets you familiar with the procedures, and then we go out and do OTJ (on-the-job training) with a trainer. So in the morning you see a video; in the afternoon, you go out and do what you saw and what you learned on the video. And then the next morning when you come back, the first thing that you do is we review what you did yesterday, and then we start on what we’re going to do this afternoon.
"It was a constant re-enforcement. And when you turned a guy loose, you had to have somebody there watching him. And you didn’t turn the guy loose. And we used to say if you can get a guy fully trained in two weeks, you’re doing real well. And you know, for the next six months, the guy really wasn’t fully trained. I mean, he was trained, but you always were concerned. You always made sure that he got special attention as opposed to just cutting him loose.
"I think if you hired a lineman, in two years that guy would today be exposed to most of the scenarios he’s going to run into in his career. At that point, it’s an unusual thing to find something different.
"You’ve got to train and train and train, and that still doesn’t guarantee that you’re not going to have incidents."
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