June 30, 2014

Listen to an NBAA Flight Plan podcast updating Members on regional business aviation group activities.

It was only the second time regional group leaders from across the country had ever met outside of the NBAA convention, but the gathering of NBAA’s Regional Leadership Roundtable was even more fruitful than the first. That was the consensus of those who attended the second annual NBAA Regional Leadership Roundtable on June 5 in San Antonio, TX.

“Frankly, it’s invaluable,” said Ed Vesely of Welsch Aviation in Houston, who hopes to start a regional business aviation group in that city. “With NBAA’s help, I’ve been able to develop some creative ideas and maybe learn from some of their mistakes as well, pick up some of the good points and hopefully avoid some of the bad.”

Approximately half of the regional business aviation groups in the United States were represented at the 2014 NBAA Regional Leadership Roundtable. Vesely, for instance, learned how he could increase the name recognition of his planned new organization, as well as increase the group’s initial membership.

NBAA Northeast Regional Representative Dean Saucier suggested that Vesely, a pilot, reach beyond his fellow aviators to other business aviation professionals.

“Some people view business aviation associations primarily as pilots,” said Saucier. “So you’ve got to get over that; that’s why this idea of [trying to recruit] technicians is a good one. And definitely go after the schedulers and dispatchers,” Saucier said.

Marj Rose, co-founder of the North Texas Business Aviation Association (NTBAA), faces a different issue.

“I think my biggest challenge is how to increase involvement and get people to want to be on committees so we can groom them to be leaders in our organization,” she told her colleagues at the roundtable.

Her answer came from a discussion among the more than 30 regional association leaders in attendance. David Small, president of the Georgia Business Aviation Association, suggested Rose look toward new members of her regional association.

“You understand that when someone volunteers for a board, that there’s going to be two purposes – to learn and network,” explained Small. Whether it’s a vendor who is offering money or industry expertise while trying to obtain new clients or someone who needs a job, you’ve got to play that balance, letting them find people they can talk to.

Rose said she gained much from the discussion.

“I learned that a lot of people are struggling with the same issues that we are – especially in the succession area,” said Rose. “I think we do have to be open to different ideas and probably be more proactive in mentoring people to be our replacements.” According to her group’s bylaws, the vice president is supposed to succeed the president, but “it hasn’t happened in seven years. So we probably need to take a different tactic. I did hear that from other people,” she said.

Regional business aviation leaders are working now on ways to stay in closer touch. Steve Hadley, NBAA’s director of regional programs and Southwest regional representative, said the Regional Leadership Roundtable has value not only for local and state groups, but for NBAA as well.

Hadley said, “for NBAA, it helps us become what we want to be – which is helping our Member Companies become more efficient and more effective in how they operate their aircraft and their businesses. So while all these folks are part of regional groups, they also are the businesses that make up the Member Companies of NBAA.”