May 27, 2009
Establishing an early presence online, David Zschunke steered his company’s equipment sales into the Internet age.

Q: How did you get involved in the industry?

A: In the late 60s, I starting working on the ramp for North Central Airlines, which later became Republic Airlines, which later was acquired by Northwest Airlines. My airline career lasted 18 years. During those 18 years my titles included: ramp agent, station agent, senior station agent, duty manager, customer service manager, and station manager at three different stations, the last being LGA Airport. Upon leaving the airlines, my interest focused on selling and leasing ground support equipment to airlines, ground handling companies and FBOs.

Q: What are some of the major trends you have seen developing over the past decades?

A: A major trend in the industry has been the consolidation of the “legacy carriers” and the creation, development, and either success (e.g. AirTran, Jetblue) or demise (e.g. Independence Air, Skybus) of the new entrant carriers, not only with the passenger airlines, but also the air cargo airlines. Also, the continual trend of the legacy carriers is to contract out the ground handling.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced over the years?

A: Trying to stay ahead of the competition is always a challenge. The continual growth and accessability of Internet shopping has made the country and world a much smaller marketplace. Davin Inc. developed an early presence on the Internet. It was great; we were receiving new inquiries from all over the country and the world. However, now the Internet also exposes our customer base to new competing suppliers every day. Quality of product and service are key to keeping your customers.

Q: What do you favor most about working in this industry?

A: I love the airline industry. I have met many wonderful people and have traveled and seen most of our country and much of the world. I remain fascinated by such a massive piece of machinery becoming airborne, maneuvering under controlled conditions, and landing safely again, with such reliability. I am proud to be affiliated with the industry. Quality ground support equipment is key in getting the aircraft “turned” safely and efficiently and on to its next destination.

Q: What advice would you give to those new to the industry?

A: It is a great industry, but be prepared for some bumps in the career path. The industry must continue to seek improvements in operational efficiency to restore profitability.

Q: Who do you admire?

A: I admire my wife, our three children (all adults), and our five grandchildren. They are great.

Q: What in the industry keeps you up at night?

A: Lately, instability, not only in the airlines, but business in general and our financial institutions, and more directly our company’s accounts receivable, keep me up watching very late night TV.

Q: Is there one accomplishment that you are especially proud of?

A: Davin Inc. was started in 1998. I was a founding partner and president. The company has grown steadily over its 11 years. Over our history we have provided ground support equipment to almost every major US airline, several ground handling companies, the U.S. government, several FBOs, and about a dozen foreign carriers.

Q: If not in GSE where would you be?

A: I would probably be in another type of equipment or automotive business. I do have a passion for cars, especially Corvettes. I would love to make a career out of buying and selling, driving and enjoying Corvettes.