Job Title: Director, Planning and Support
Company: Piedmont Airlines
Location: Charlotte, NC
Years of experience in ground support industry: 17
Years with current company: 24 years
Previous employers in the industry: Only Piedmont Airlines – all day every day since 1999.
Industry committees / associations / working groups served on (past and present):
I have participated in the past on various panels and industry discussions regarding eGSE benefits, green project grant funding and airport support. I most recently joined SAE AGE3 as a liaison member.
Ground Support Worldwide: What attracted you to a career in the ground support industry?
Brian Wemple: After beginning to work with ground operations and GSE planning in 2006, I realized very quickly the connection that operators and mechanics have with the equipment they are responsible for. It’s an industry where manufacturers, users and maintenance personnel are passionate about their resources.
GSW: What has kept you engaged in the industry?
BW: Whether it is working with other ground handlers, airports or GSE manufacturers, it always feels like working with family. We all absolutely appreciate the value of working together for the greater good of the industry.
GSW: What’s the best advice you’ve been given while working in this field?
BW: Take risks, and focus on success. Establish a small number of really important goals and create forward-looking measures to ensure these really important goals will be achieved. Measure results and establish accountability. Make sure people have what they need to be successful.
GSW: How have you seen the ground support industry change the most during your career?
BW: I’ve often joked the ground support industry has been stuck in the “SOS” (Same Old Stuff) program for years. In the past few years, I’ve seen many companies focus on design and engineering improvements and bring to the market innovative products and solutions. This is good to see; I hope the industry embraces the changes so that ground handlers can implement safer and more efficient services.
GSW: Has this change been to the benefit or detriment of the industry?
BW: Technology and design improvements are always a good thing, as long as the industry is ready to support the changes needed to operate and maintain these improvements. As leaders, we need to do everything possible to ensure we set up our teams for success. Failing to ensure availability of necessary support for new technology will absolutely be detrimental.
GSW: What’s the next big thing coming to the ground support industry?
BW: The GSE industry needs to further develop new and innovative solutions that help handlers generate higher levels of safety and efficiency. Handlers that successfully implement improved safety and efficiency tools will ultimately find long-term success. I see automation, robotics and AI tools being key to generating future success.
GSW: What type of an impact will it make?
BW: Any changes within airline environments take significant amounts of coordination between airlines, handlers, airports, regulatory agencies and equipment manufacturers. Having leaders that are willing to step up to the plate and work collaboratively with stakeholders will drive significant impact to the industry – how equipment design matures, how we train operators and ultimately improved solutions we can provide to airlines and airports.
GSW: What would you say to encourage someone to join the ground support industry?
BW: There are significant amounts of opportunity to drive change within the industry – especially with technologies that are either emerging or now available. For people that want to come in and help chart the course – it’s a great time to do this!
GSW: Any additional comments?
BW: One of my most significant inspirations in the GSE world was my teammate that retired last year - Fred Maslow. From his straightforward approach on items, to his desire to push the boundaries, Fred was never a stranger to an opportunity. His passions were partnering with others to find solutions to current problems, and considering new options that would make our business better. As many had experienced, he certainly also made a number of friends along the way. Even though he now spends his time traveling, lake adventures with the grandkids and, of course, enjoying the finest bottled red lubricant, his spirit will live long in our company. Thank you Fred from all of us whom you've inspired, supported, and made laugh along the way.