Since that time, Harton has focused on making Piedmont-Hawthorne one company. Employee compensation and, in particular, benefits have been equalized. "Piedmont, with its airline history, had somewhat better benefits, so we put all employees under the Piedmont program. Piedmont had a credit union; we extended it to all employees. We now have 1,300 employees, and that gets us to a size where we can provide extremely good benefits."
The assimilation process complete, Piedmont-Hawthorne today is structured into four strategic divisions, says Harton:
• FBOs and airport management;
• Aircraft operations and management, including Part 135 charter, management of 40 aircraft, and Part 121 operations for professional sports teams;
• Heavy maintenance and airline services, based in Winston-Salem; and
• Aircraft sales, including new Raytheon aircraft, used, and air carrier aircraft, from regionals on up.
With the merger creating a company with an East Coast dominance for new Raytheon aircraft, the manufacturer became a vested party in where the company was headed. Says Harton, "One thing that Raytheon saw that I think they liked was that there was a pretty well-defined plan ... as to how we would go about acquiring new FBOs and creating a better support organization, particularly in the Northeast."
Regarding future growth, the company is seeking to grow its maintenance service division internally while adding FBO locations through acquisition. It will be more selective in its pursuit of airport management contracts, says Harton, merely because the field of bidding companies has significantly increased in recent years, and such bid processes can be expensive propositions.
A core focus on the FBO side will be in the tri-state region of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, says Harton, to fill in the gaps of its Raytheon territory. "Outside of that, we have a defined development program that has both a proactive side and a reactive side. The reactive side is to be alert, be aware, and if we come upon an FBO and it fits what we're going, we're interested in looking at it. On the proactive side, there are a lot of opportunities in the Eastern U.S.
"It's a combination of the type of business that they do on their airport, what the potential of the airport is, coupled with what strategic value it would bring to the other parts of the company.
"We look at an FBO as a pretty self-contained business. If an FBO on an airport is selling a million or a million and a half gallons of fuel, and it's a nice straightforward operation, we don't care particularly where it is and we don't care what else it does. We don't care if it has any strategic value.
By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director & Jodi Richards, Associate Editor The Bizav Beat NBAA '03 - a bit subdued, but still the hub of commerce for corporates and GA ORLANDO - Since the...
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