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Leading Edge: What keeps you coming back?

One of the great things about being the editor of Wings magazine is having the opportunity to meet Canadian aviation leaders who have what I like to call “the passion principle” – an enthusiasm for their craft that drives them to create significant change or even groundbreaking achievements.


September 6, 2013
By Stacy Bradshaw


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One of the great things about being the editor of Wings magazine is having the opportunity to meet Canadian aviation leaders who have what I like to call “the passion principle” – an enthusiasm for their craft that drives them to create significant change or even groundbreaking achievements.

Our annual Canadian fixed-base operator survey, the focus of this month’s cover story (see, “Catch a rising star,” pg. 22) offers perfect examples of the principle at work. Wings’ third annual report identifies top FBO properties and the professionals that drive them to succeed from coast to coast, as selected by our readers.

Voting for the Canadian FBO survey runs online in the spring for six weeks. Wings asks readers to select up to five of their favourite FBOs and rank them based on everything from service and pricing, to more tangible qualities such as
on-site amenities and services. We also ask readers to share which fuel brands, charge or credit cards are at the top of their lists and evaluate just what makes a top FBO out of this world.

And while the final numbers are always intriguing – congratulations to all the winners and to Montreal’s Starlink/Signature for capturing top spot for the third consecutive year – to me, the most interesting nuggets pertain to the people who stir the drink . . . the professionals who help make each property shine. After all, in a service-driven industry like this, “attention to detail” and “going the extra mile” for customers is not only a given but, in many ways, the only thing that separates top properties from everybody else.

“I know I said this last year when you came to discuss the results with me, Matt, but it is absolutely true – we do sweat the small stuff here,” says Zoran Bratuljevic, president/CEO of Starlink/Signature Montreal. “It’s a policy all team members follow, it’s so important to the corporate culture here. It’s precisely what drives the brand.”

Bratuljevic is first to credit colleagues David Bruneau (FBO manager) and Yuliya Marunych (executive assistant to the president/CEO) for creating an ideal corporate community. “We’re all equals here, doing what we need to for our clients,” he says. “David and Yuliya make it all happen.”

Jill Timmins, Skyservice vice-president for Western Canada, can’t say enough about how her team feels about delivering service excellence and what it means to the Skyservice brand. Timmins notes that in the end, it’s all about the trust factor – without it, there’s nothing. “The client trusts the Skyservice brand to deliver the type of experience that goes across the board,” she says. Simply put, expectations need to be met. And it can be the smallest of things, such as not leaving a dirty coffee cup on a table. You wouldn’t want to start your morning like that.”

Customers using top FBO chains such as Signature, Skyservice, Million Air and Landmark have all come to expect a certain level of service excellence, but several independent Canadian FBOs are also going above and beyond. Family-owned Kreos Aviation in Saskatoon, for example – winner of the top FBO in Central Canada (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut) – not only provides top-notch customer service, but also offers pilots small details such as Bernard Callebaut airplane chocolates as part of its offerings. Little things, but nice things.

“It comes down to price, yes, but you have to have that personal touch,” says Sherry Franks, Kreos Aviation’s FBO manager (see photo above with her colleagues). “And you have to be different. You have to offer something else. When you do, they walk into the building and go, ‘Wow! We never expected this from Saskatoon or a small town.’ That’s what a lot of people who come in say. The ramps have been busy and we’ve had a lot of people come in and say, ‘Wow this place is beautiful. . .why aren’t we here?’ ”

Why aren’t they indeed. Kreos’ blend of service excellence and outstanding attention to detail has paid off in spades – as it has for all of this year’s winners. As demands for top value at affordable prices continue to escalate, nothing is more important. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners – following the “passion principle” has obviously worked.