Bryan Currier was 28 when Business Aviation Insider visited him for a 2008 member profile on the business he founded in college, Advantage Technologies. He was flying a Cirrus SR22 to install computers and networks for medical offices across the Upper Midwest. With 18 employees, the company was doing under $3 million in revenue per year.
“Fast-forward to 2023, and we’ve got about a hundred people and will probably do $15 million in revenue this year,” said Currier, the president and founder, now flying a Cessna Citation Mustang.
Advantage Technologies today has employees and clients in 11 states, from Wisconsin to Florida. As the business expanded, the type of aircraft Currier needed grew as well. From the Cirrus, he first upgraded to a Piper Saratoga, then a Malibu, and later a Meridian before making the step up to a jet in 2017.
“To say that business aviation is a must-have for us is the understatement of the year,” said Currier. “It’s so integral to our story. We just kept adding more states and more people, and what we are would not have been possible without it.”
Then and Now
In the early years after NBAA met Currier, he started flying less and less to plug in computers and test networks himself, and more and more to meet new clients at offices or conferences. He hired an operations VP to lead technicians and hands-on service.
It all required constant travel, and Currier eventually moved from Michigan, to Franklin, TN, outside Nashville, putting him in the center of Advantage Technologies’ growing reach across the Eastern U.S.
Currier soon began building a sales team, to work trade shows across the country and sign clients. In 2018, he hired a VP of sales and realized that – before turning 40 – he really had become a CEO.
“My role has changed dramatically because I’m no longer doing the installations, I’m no longer doing the selling and consulting,” Currier reflected. “I’m going to trade shows, connecting with the market, and telling medical professionals what success with technology looks like in a practice.”
Currier is regularly invited to speak at medical conferences on IT and how it is evolving in the modern practice. Recently, he has spoken about cybersecurity, data privacy and cloud-connected devices in healthcare settings.
In the past 15 years, clients’ needs have changed dramatically. When NBAA wrote the 2008 profile, Apple had just introduced the iPhone. Most of Advantage Technologies’ clients did not have high-speed internet. Many still had dial-up.
“It was a whole different world,” said Currier. “Now, everything is so connected, there are more devices, it all syncs in the cloud, that the amount of security and integration my team does to make the office work is much more complex than it used to be.”
“Eliminating those two full travel days on either side of the trip, for 10 conferences a year, buys me another 20 days of productivity every year. That’s a full working month of productivity the airplane adds to the calendar.”
Bryan Currier President and Founder, Advantage Technologies
Sales in Motion
The conferences where Currier speaks are filled with decision-makers and potential clients. After a talk, eight or nine doctors and office managers may come up to Currier and his team with questions. Many schedule consultations – but without business aviation, Currier would not even be there.
Most medical conferences are in smaller and out-of-the-way towns. Earlier this year, Currier spoke at a conference in St. Simon’s Island, GA – halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, FL. “I flew out first thing in the morning, worked the trade show in the afternoon, spoke at my time slot, had dinner with my team and came home,” he said.
In Currier’s view, that was a productive day and a wise investment of his time for the company. “Now take that same trip,” he said, “and assume you need to take a Delta flight from Nashville through Atlanta, rent a car and drive an hour and a half from Jacksonville. And then you spend the day after the conference doing all that in reverse. It’s just not worth it.”
That is why Currier sees business aviation as an “amazing tool” in growing the business over two decades.
“Eliminating those two full travel days on either side of the trip, for 10 conferences a year, buys me another 20 days of productivity every year,” he said, adding it all up. “That’s a full working month of productivity the airplane adds to the calendar.”
And that just accounts for Currier’s time. The return-on-investment (ROI) really shines for the team members traveling with him. Often, he travels to major client visits or conferences with his VP of sales, his VP of operations and others.
While Currier flies more than 95% of the legs himself, he has recently established relationships with Nashville-area contract pilots. On longer flights with his team, he will hire a contract pilot so he can have meetings in the back of the cabin while in the air.
“[Business aviation] makes everybody in the company more productive, not just me.”
Bryan Currier President and Founder, Advantage Technologies
“It makes everybody in the company more productive, not just me,” Currier explained. “We were going from Ann Arbor to Fort Lauderdale, so I sat in the back, met with my VP of operations, and we had two technicians on a conference call the entire time. That’s not really doable on the airlines.”
Having contract pilots he trusts is also a safety strategy for Currier. He has mentored some newer pilots in the area who can help out in the right seat. But to hand over the controls, he found experienced aviators on pilot message boards, and started flying with them.
“There was one trip last year, when I knew I was going from Nashville to Chicago, speaking at a conference, then going to Tampa for more meetings,” said Currier. “That’s a long day, so I decided to have a contract pilot come with us. I want the option to hand over pilot-in-command duties.”
Even on shorter or less-demanding trips, Currier gives himself the option to stay overnight. It is one of the general rules that he set down for himself as a pilot/CEO in those early years, flying a piston airplane around the Midwest.
“I have a go-bag that’s just always with me,” he said. “In terms of risk assessment, the big things I’m looking at are the weather and my personal fatigue. So, if meetings run late, having the go-bag takes the inconvenience off the table. It’s no big deal to stay and go in the morning.”
Return on Investment
Currier is varying his recurrent training, both in the vendors he uses, and a mix of simulator and in-aircraft training. Even before taking delivery of the Mustang, he became involved in Citation Jet Pilots and NBAA, knowing he could learn a lot from other jet owners and from larger flight departments.
In 2008 Currier’s dream airplane was a Meridian. He never thought Advantage Technologies would have a jet, “but we outgrew the capabilities of the turboprop, and the ROI has been fantastic.”
Sustaining Company Culture in a Hybrid Workplace
As Advantage Technologies has grown to serve 11 states, the company has evolved from its founding at a single office in central Michigan. Technicians and salespeople are now located all over the Eastern U.S. Aside from a core team in Michigan, the majority of the workforce is remote.
“Spreading ourselves out gives us more coverage,” said President and Founder Bryan Currier, “but the downside of that is, it’s very hard to get everybody in the same place at the same time.”
From founding the business in college, Currier’s role has evolved. “At this point, a big focus for me is building and defending our culture,” he said. “It’s really hard to do that when you can’t just walk around and get a feel for what’s going on.”
Currier is often on the road, going to see employees from his central location and office in Franklin, TN. “Most of our people live outside of major airline hubs, so it can be really challenging,” he said. “It’s easy to get from here to Orlando or Detroit; it’s not so easy to get from here to Ocala or Lansing.”
So, Currier flies to team members in the Citation Mustang, bringing them together for regional dinners, and when they are all working together at conferences or larger client engagements.
“For me,” said Currier, “the strategy to maintain continuity in a distributed hybrid workforce is to go be with them every opportunity I can.”
Aircraft: One Cessna Citation Mustang
Base: Headquartered at Smyrna Airport (MQY) in Tennessee
Personnel: Bryan Currier, president and owner/operator