‘Success on the Step’ chronicles the history of Kenmore Air

“Success on the Step” tells the history of Kenmore Air, started in 1946 by a pilot and two mechanics who wanted to “be our own bosses and be involved in aviation.”

It was a one-plane operation based at Kenmore Air Harbor, basically a mud bog near Seattle. None of them had ever heard of a business plan and the concept of marketing was a stranger. Six months later, the pilot was dead and one of the mechanics had left. Bob Munro, the remaining mechanic, pushed on alone.

Today, Kenmore is among the best-known and most respected float plane operations in the world, flying an eclectic mix of piston Beavers and turbine Otters and Caravans, landing passengers on glaciers, lakes and harbors among the mist-shrouded fjords and islands of the U.S. and Canadian northwest.

The book is more than a history, though. It is a clearly-written, down-to-earth, simply-stated lesson in how to succeed in business — any business. It is a much-needed reminder that the reliable ingredients of success are honesty, integrity and respect. It helps, too, to stay out of debt.

Bob Munro died in 2000, still running the business by his simple philosophy: do the right thing. He told author C. Martin Faure that he couldn’t recall a single day when he didn’t look forward to going to work. “I’d be flying through the mountains or up along the coast of British Columbia, and I’d have a hard time believing I was being paid to do it,” he said. Judging from the tales told by others in the company, pretty much all of them feel the same way. The company, while different today than it was in 1946, or even last year, continues to evolve and adapt without forgetting to do the right thing.

An initial browse through the book can take hours. You see a photograph and you have to search out the text concerning it (alas, there is no index). A few words catch your eye and you start to read. You may not stop for a long time. As you learn about people, places and planes, you can get lost in daydreams. And you do learn, about everything from the minutiae of handling a seaplane to restoring old Beavers, which Kenmore will do for you as it did for Harrison Ford.

Best of all, though, you get a splendid picture of a life that most of us just dream about; a joyous mix of adventure, occasional unwanted thrills, life in the outdoors, daring rescues, good companions.

Buy it from Earmark Publishing, 2013 Fourth Ave., Suite 402, Seattle, Wash., 98121 or by calling 206-441-4745.

Success on the Step, by C. Martin Faure, Earmark Publishing, Seattle; 434 pages, photographs, foreword by Harrison Ford; $25 hardbound, $17.95 softbound.

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