235 episodes

How Top Aerospace Executives Set the Vision, Grow Their Business & Develop Talent

The Aerospace Executive Podcast Craig Picken

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    • 4.8 • 33 Ratings

How Top Aerospace Executives Set the Vision, Grow Their Business & Develop Talent

    The Only Way to Make Money in the Charter Business w/ John Matthews

    The Only Way to Make Money in the Charter Business w/ John Matthews

    Operating airplanes is a TOUGH business! Complicated machines, delicate financing structures, ever changing asset values, and other complexities that can tank even the best run operations. This is why it’s impossible to democratize business aviation.
     
    Because owning a business jet company is sexy, it is easy to become overly emotional and focus on what makes you look good. But, it is a numbers business and operators who don’t stay disciplined will often find themselves in a lot of trouble. The secret according to AirX’s founder, John Matthews? Take let data drive your decisions.
     
    How do you set a charter business up for success?
     
    What are some of the mistakes jet operators are making? In this episode, John talks about the journey the company has taken, from their fascinating beginnings, to picking routes and building a very unique fleet and what it takes to survive and thrive in a tough business.
     
    I became extremely analytical when I started to lose money, and that’s how we started making money. -John Matthews  
     
     
    Three Things You’ll Learn In This Episode 
     
    -Why AirX stopped flying to America
    The routes you fly are critical to your success in the charter business. What are the differences between the American and European marketplaces? 
     
    -The only way to survive and thrive
    The asset market is going to soften and we’ve seen a sharp rise in the charter jet global inventory. What approach does AirX take to expanding their fleet? What are some of the creative aircraft they’ve assembled?
     
    -Data-driven decisions only
    In an industry like charters, it’s really easy to make decisions based on emotion. Why is it critical to be analytical instead?
     
     
    Guest Bio
     
    John Matthews is the Chairman of AirX. Beginning at the age of 17, John Matthews managed the operations of a 20-plane flying school. At the age of 18, He started a twin piston engine aircraft charter business for the executive charter market. John also earned a contract with Caledonian Airways to manage 13 Tri-Stars and two DC10s around the world, providing all technical ground support and flying critical spare parts to Caledonian in AOG circumstances. By the age of 19, John had advanced his career by starting his own operation with 10-seater twin engine aircraft. Healix, the UK's largest repatriation company, also hired him to fly medical relief flights. AirX was founded because a family-run business purchased the wrong assets during the boom. John took over operations, and within months of his leadership, the company was brought back from the brink of bankruptcy, building a new tier in Malta as the company's new HQ, which began in 2010 since then the annual turnover increased from €8 million to €150 million, with zero EBITDA to €25 million and cash generation of roughly €8 million in 2023, a record year. AirX has grown its clientele to include over 250 notable international celebrities, the majority of whom are return customers, including royal families, politicians, government flights, music tours, sports teams, and mission flights. For more information, go to https://www.airx.aero/. 

    Learn More About Your Host:
     
    Co-founder and Managing Partner for Northstar Group, Craig is focused on recruiting senior-level leadership, sales, and operations executives for some of the most prominent companies in the aviation and aerospace industry. Clients include well-known aircraft OEMs, aircraft operators, leasing / financial organizations, and Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) providers. 
     
    Since 2009 Craig has personally concluded more than 150 executive searches in a variety of disciplines. As the only executive recruiter who has flown airplanes, sold airplanes, AND run a business, Craig is uniquely positioned to build deep, lasting relationships with both executives and the boards and stakeholders they serve. This allows him to use a detailed, disciplined process that does more than pair the ideal candidate with the perfect

    • 40 min
    Down to the Studs: How to Transform a 60-Year Old Company w/ John Cuomo

    Down to the Studs: How to Transform a 60-Year Old Company w/ John Cuomo

    Repositioning a 60-year-old distribution company - during COVID no less - is a Herculean effort. Considering that VSE Corporation’s market cap has gone from $300 million to $1.2 billion since 2019, the mission has been successful.
     
    For the CEO tasked with this turnaround, there’s one key ingredient to this success - present leadership. In this post-COVID era of remote work, it’s easy for companies to take an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach, but VSE does the opposite. Prioritizing the right things, identifying the underutilized gems, and putting effort into the foundation pays off.
     
    How do you turn a 60-year-old company into a market leader? How is VSE Corporation approaching M&A? In this episode, CEO John Cuomo talks about his journey since taking over the company, why his mindset is one of  “writing a new volume of a book”, what sets them apart, and the secret to their success. By the way…  he’s also one of the most sought-after CEO’s in the industry!
     
    The presence of a leader is important, even if it’s limited. I think it sends a big message, you connect in different ways and you get something different out of the business’ story. -John Cuomo
     
    Three Things You’ll Learn In This Episode 
     
    -1+1 is greater than 2
    When conducting M&A many companies are mainly focused on buying a great asset. Why does the VSE Corporation start with strategy and culture? 
     
    -The whole power of presence
    It’s easy to have a disconnect between the company’s leadership strategy and the people working the floor. How does VSE make sure the whole company is moving together in the right direction? 
     
    -The easiest journeys don’t give you the best reward
    Transforming a company is no easy feat. Why does John Cuomo liken it to tearing a house down to the studs, rebuilding it, and ending up with the best home on the block?
     
    Guest Bio
     
    John Cuomo is the President and CEO of VSE Corporation. Appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2019,  he brings 21 years of experience in distribution and the aftermarket services industry. John previously served as Vice President and General Manager of Boeing Distribution Services Inc. Prior to Boeing's 2018 acquisition of the Aerospace Solutions Group of KLX Inc., John served as its President and General Manager (since 2014). From 2000 to 2014, John served in multiple roles and functions at B/E Aerospace (parent company of KLX, Inc. until 2014), including Vice President & General Manager and Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Marketing & Business Development. Prior to joining B/E Aerospace, John served as an attorney at a large multinational law firm practicing commercial law, mergers and acquisitions and litigation. Connect with John on LinkedIn. 

    Learn More About Your Host:
     
    Co-founder and Managing Partner for Northstar Group, Craig is focused on recruiting senior-level leadership, sales, and operations executives for some of the most prominent companies in the aviation and aerospace industry. Clients include well-known aircraft OEMs, aircraft operators, leasing / financial organizations, and Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) providers.
     
    Since 2009 Craig has personally concluded more than 150 executive searches in a variety of disciplines. As the only executive recruiter who has flown airplanes, sold airplanes, AND run a business, Craig is uniquely positioned to build deep, lasting relationships with both executives and the boards and stakeholders they serve. This allows him to use a detailed, disciplined process that does more than pair the ideal candidate with the perfect opportunity and hit the business goals of the companies he serves.

    • 37 min
    Up in the Air (Longer): Why the Aviation Aftermarket is White Hot Right Now w/Bill Alderman

    Up in the Air (Longer): Why the Aviation Aftermarket is White Hot Right Now w/Bill Alderman

    What happens when the aviation industry faces the gargantuan task of catching up to a constrained supply chain? The opportunity shifts. Everyone has accepted the reality that manufacturing is highly limited and that planes have to fly longer, so the aftermarket is white hot.
     
    If you own IP and you’re driving the aftermarket, you’ll be fine for a while, but is this opportunity being felt across the industry or just limited to this corner?
     
    The truth is there are different things occurring in different sectors. Many sectors are leaving la la land and heading back to normalcy which makes for some interesting developments. Other sectors are in dire need of innovation. What are the biggest areas of concern and opportunity? In this episode, Founder and President of Alderman & Company, Bill Alderman returns for a quarterly aviation check-in. We talk about the commercial supply chain, the aftermarket, defense and business jets.
     
    There is a lack of capacity throughout our entire industry of aerospace and the after market is white hot. -Craig Picken
     
    Three Things You’ll Learn In This Episode 
     
    -Never bet against American innovation
    Russia’s tech is stale, but the real concern is China. What should this country be doing to shore up our defense industrial base and what’s at stake if we don’t? 
     
    -Biz jets…we’re leaving la-la land
    All things related to business jet aviation did really well in the pandemic. Why is the sector continuing to cool off now?
     
    -The white hot aftermarket
    There is light at the end of the supply chain tunnel, but it’s a long, long tunnel. How is this going to affect the aftermarket? 
     
    Guest Bio
     
    William ‘Bill’ Alderman is the Founder and President of Alderman & Company which are aerospace and defense M&A bankers. Bill has always had a passion for aviation and is both a commercial pilot and aircraft owner. Today, he uses his expertise, coupled with his interests to represent Middle Market Sellers in the Aerospace and Defense industry. 
     
    To find out more, go to:https://aldermanco.com/ 
    Learn More About Your Host:
     
    Co-founder and Managing Partner for Northstar Group, Craig is focused on recruiting senior-level leadership, sales, and operations executives for some of the most prominent companies in the aviation and aerospace industry. Clients include well-known aircraft OEMs, aircraft operators, leasing / financial organizations, and Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) providers. 
     
    Since 2009 Craig has personally concluded more than 150 executive searches in a variety of disciplines. As the only executive recruiter who has flown airplanes, sold airplanes, AND run a business, Craig is uniquely positioned to build deep, lasting relationships with both executives and the boards and stakeholders they serve. This allows him to use a detailed, disciplined process that does more than pair the ideal candidate with the perfect opportunity and hit the business goals of the companies he serves.

    • 40 min
    Honest Organizations Achieve More..Here's How to Create One w/Steve Gaffney

    Honest Organizations Achieve More..Here's How to Create One w/Steve Gaffney

    The most conflict-ridden, unproductive and ineffective organizations have one thing in common - a severe lack of honesty. Getting the unsaid said is critical - it’s common sense, but it’s certainly not easy.
     
    Very often, people have valuable thoughts about the organization, but they are afraid to bring them up. Whether it’s issues or ideas, allowing people to share honestly makes our teams more effective.
     
    If you’re a leader and you’re constantly getting blindsided by things you should have known, you’ve created a dishonest organization without even knowing it.
     
    How do leaders inadvertently keep their employees from being open with them? How do we create the conditions for honesty? When we’re trying to identify the problem, how can we tell the difference between the facts and our imagination? In this episode, consultant, speaker, and author of Unconditional Power, Steve Gaffney returns. We talk about what erodes honesty in teams and how to rectify it.
     
    It’s hard to get people to speak up and if you create any conditions for them not to speak up, that becomes a reason for them not to. -Steven Gaffney
     
    Things You’ll Learn In This Episode 
     
    -Common sense isn’t all that common
    There are a lot of leadership principles and best practices that are obvious, why do people struggle to do them? 
     
    -Individual accountability vs. all-in collective accountability
    People often cite the boss as the reason they can’t do something. How do we get them to start holding each other accountable instead? 
     
    -Don’t imagine, notice
    When it comes to resolving issues and conflict, people often create solutions without looking at the root cause. What steps can we shift to get to the core of the matter?
     
    -Repeat, repeat, repeat
    The most successful organizations codify their culture. As leaders, how do we bake in our vision for the business? 
     
     
    Guest Bio
     
    Steven Gaffney is a consultant, speaker, CEO of the Steven Gaffney Company, and author of Unconditional Power. He is the leading expert on creating Consistently High Achieving Organizations (CHAO)™ including high-achieving teams, honest communication, and change leadership. With almost 30 years of experience, Steven has become the go-to person and trusted advisor for countless top leaders and executive teams from Fortune 500 companies and associations, as well as the U.S. government and military. He is also a highly regarded author and sought-after speaker.
     
    To get Steve’s free resources, go to https://justbehonest.com/ and mention this podcast in your contact. 

    Learn More About Your Host:
     
    Co-founder and Managing Partner for Northstar Group, Craig is focused on recruiting senior-level leadership, sales, and operations executives for some of the most prominent companies in the aviation and aerospace industry. Clients include well-known aircraft OEMs, aircraft operators, leasing / financial organizations, and Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) providers.
     
    Since 2009 Craig has personally concluded more than 150 executive searches in a variety of disciplines. As the only executive recruiter who has flown airplanes, sold airplanes, AND run a business, Craig is uniquely positioned to build deep, lasting relationships with both executives and the boards and stakeholders they serve. This allows him to use a detailed, disciplined process that does more than pair the ideal candidate with the perfect opportunity and hit the business goals of the companies he serves.

    • 35 min
    Setna iO's Success Strategy: Soaring Through Aviation's 20-Year Supply Crisis w/David Chaimovitz

    Setna iO's Success Strategy: Soaring Through Aviation's 20-Year Supply Crisis w/David Chaimovitz

    Running a fast-moving parts-trading business with 200 employees. Maintaining a hawk-like focus on demand, every line item and deal that crosses your desk. Capturing every last dollar of value across the supply chain.
     
    These aren’t easy things to do simultaneously but that’s what it takes to succeed.
     
    David Chaimowitz, CEO of Setna iO has achieved this and more in just 7 years and his company is not showing any signs of slowing down.
     
    He also feels his company is perfectly positioned to continue on this upward trajectory as many industry experts believe that the season of supply chain woes is almost over. David certainly begs to differ.
     
    The global fleet has a long term supply shortage and the industry will be feeling the pain for decades to come as Boeing and Airbus struggle to increase production to meet demand.
     
    How did Setna iO’s journey begin and how have they set themselves up for success? Why will it be hard for the supply chain shortage to resolve in a few years? In this episode, we’re joined by the founder and CEO of Setna iO, David Chaimovitz. He talks about what it’s like running a fast-moving, highly-caffeinated parts-trading business and where the opportunity is right now.
     
    I'm confident that there will be an aircraft shortage 15 years from today because of the issues that started 5 years ago. If we can go out and buy aircraft, that will work out pretty well for us. -David Chaimovitz 
     
    Things You’ll Learn In This Episode 
     
    -Don’t let inventory nuke your business
    Covid revealed a lot of the weaknesses of businesses in the industry. How is Setna iO structured to prevent catastrophe?
     
    -What it takes to thrive in the parts-trading game
    Setna iO might be a business that specializes in selling parts, but pattern recognition and opportunity-spotting are more important than being good at sales.  
     
    -A 20-year crisis 
    Many people believe that the industry’s supply chain issues will soon be a thing of the past. Could the shortage of aircraft actually be a problem we’ll feel for decades? 
     
    -Growth with guardrails 
    How does Setna iO maintain discipline in a fast-moving, rapidly-changing and often chaotic market?
     
    Guest Bio
    David Chaimovitz is the founder & CEO of Setna iO, one of the world's largest and fastest-growing commercial aviation component suppliers, specializing in investing in inventory via asset acquisitions. Setna iO offers a comprehensive range of products for the commercial, regional, and business jet market, from engines and avionics to emergency equipment and landing gear. With over seven years of experience in this role, David understands the nuanced details of the airframe and engine component market, MRO business, and aviation component supply chain. His mission is to provide global airlines with cost-effective and reliable solutions for their aircraft aftermarket needs. Go to https://setnaio.com/ and connect with David on LinkedIn. 
     
    Learn More About Your Host:
    Co-founder and Managing Partner for Northstar Group, Craig is focused on recruiting senior-level leadership, sales, and operations executives for some of the most prominent companies in the aviation and aerospace industry. Clients include well-known aircraft OEMs, aircraft operators, leasing / financial organizations, and Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) providers.
     
    Since 2009 Craig has personally concluded more than 150 executive searches in a variety of disciplines. As the only executive recruiter who has flown airplanes, sold airplanes, AND run a business, Craig is uniquely positioned to build deep, lasting relationships with both executives and the boards and stakeholders they serve. This allows him to use a detailed, disciplined process that does more than pair the ideal candidate with the perfect opportunity and hit the business goals of the companies he serves. 

    • 36 min
    Hiring for Experience & Wisdom Confidently: How to Recruit & Manage the More Seasoned People in the Workforce (REPLAY)

    Hiring for Experience & Wisdom Confidently: How to Recruit & Manage the More Seasoned People in the Workforce (REPLAY)

    Today’s workforce is teeming with high-level talent possessing a wealth of wisdom and decades of experience. Do leaders have the confidence and maturity to hire them? 
     
    Young managers can learn a lot from the veteran players but only if they’re able to see past the age gap and manage the relationship maturely.
     
    What are some of the insecurities leaders have around recruiting people with more experience, and how are they mitigated?
     
    In this episode, Matt Johnson joins me to discuss why people with more experience and wisdom are such great recruits and the right way to do it. 

    "Young managers fear that they need to have all the answers, but you don’t have to know everything. You just need to know how you get there through the perspective, wisdom, and experience of others." -Craig Picken
     
     
    Three Things You’ll Learn In This Episode 
     
    -Why we have to approach hiring differently
    The things that matter to employees today are vastly different from what mattered in the past. How do executives make sure their offering measures up to what they want? 
     
    -The biggest barrier to hiring confidently
    Young managers are afraid of not having the answers and this holds them back from dipping into an amazing talent pool. How can you overcome this fear? 
     
    -How to establish a strong working relationship
    Why is open dialogue such an important part of getting on the same page with a recruit, and setting the tone for a harmonious working relationship?
     
    Learn More About Your Host:
     
    Co-founder and Managing Partner for Northstar Group, Craig is focused on recruiting senior-level leadership, sales, and operations executives for some of the most prominent companies in the aviation and aerospace industry. Clients include well-known aircraft OEMs, aircraft operators, leasing / financial organizations, and Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) providers.
     
    Since 2009 Craig has personally concluded more than 150 executive searches in a variety of disciplines. As the only executive recruiter who has flown airplanes, sold airplanes, AND run a business, Craig is uniquely positioned to build deep, lasting relationships with both executives and the boards and stakeholders they serve. This allows him to use a detailed, disciplined process that does more than pair the ideal candidate with the perfect opportunity and hit the business goals of the companies he serves.

    • 19 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
33 Ratings

33 Ratings

64Duff ,

Excellent Informative

Great podcast, I am not in aerospace or defense, but find so many interesting informative topics and discussions that has taken my performance as an executive and our company to the next level. Thanks Craig!!

obacker19 ,

Empowering, insightful and actionable! 🙌

Whether you’re well established as an aerospace executive, or just getting started carving out your niche within the industry - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Craig does an incredible job leading conversations that cover a huge breadth of topics related to the ins and outs of building a thriving career in aerospace, and life you can be proud of - from leaders who’ve actually experienced success themselves. Highly recommend listening and subscribing!

IV_AliH ,

Excellent!

Every episode is so interesting and informative! Craig does a wonderful job hosting and brings on incredible guests that share really useful insights.

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