The closing of Mattituck

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: I believe it was in 2003 that my brother told me about a program called the Mattituck Engine Workshop sponsored, as you can guess, by Teledyne Mattituck Services. It was free and all you had to do was to get there. The program took a group of people, put them in a room with a bunch of parts and a Mattituck technician, spend a few hours together and at the end of the day, we took a group photo of all us standing behind the completely assembled engine like proud parents.

The day or so on site included a dyno test, a tour of the facility and endless questions by the visitors on every conceivable engine issue, including avgas/auto gas, oil preferences, valve overlap, compression ratios, engine failures, TBO… You get the picture. It was very enlightening to me and the other attendees and I left there with lots of information and a healthy respect for the proud professionals of Teledyne Mattituck Services.

Fast forward to 2007. I was stationed in the DC area and my wife “ordered” me to find a faster airplane than the Cessna 170 that we had been flying to and from Georgia. As usual (for me anyway), my road to speed included repairing an aircraft that, among other things, had suffered a prop strike. I must say, I did not blindly pack it up and send to the folks on eastern Long Island. I shopped around but found no other facility that I felt I could trust as well as Teledyne Mattituck Services.

They picked the engine up at my house at 7:30 a.m. (the aircraft was in my garage, another “as usual”) on a Monday morning. How Transportation Tech Keith Dolan got there from Mattituck, N.Y., at that time of day, I’ll never know. Three or four days later, I get a call from Production Manager Mahlon Russell. He tells me what they found (two cracked connecting rods), what needed to be replaced along with the rods (cam and followers, pistons, rocker box covers, etc.) and an estimate of the cost to repair it.

Two weeks later, Keith backed up to my house with engine, told me “Don’t touch the mags” and I started lining up bolt holes and tightening nuts. He also gave me my old engine parts just in case I wanted to inspect them. Did they do it for free? No way. It ran me just under $10,000. After 450+ hours that includes some Sport Air Racing League time, I’m putting a quart of oil in it once during my oil cycle of 25 to 30 hours and it is running like a top.

Since that time, I have called Mahlon and some of the other unfortunate ones at Teledyne Mattituck Services at least 30 times with questions and seeking advice about engines, prop governers, fuel injection systems, etc. Not once have they failed to return my call or answer my questions. Not a single time have they failed to be courteous and professional.

When I compare that kind of dedication and professionalism to the service that a friend of mine had with another well known service provider, I truly dread the day that I have to decide where I will send my next engine. During the eight-month period of time that they had his engine, they failed to return his call on all but one occasion and didn’t give him any usable information when he did talk to them. $18,000 later, he still has issues with the engine but they seem to think their obligation is over.

All of this I say as a prelude to my observation from a management decision point of view. Many times, we become so focused on the bottom line that we forget how the bottom line is generated. An industry is built on reputation and return business. People like to do business with people they know and trust. When you have been in a business as fraught with competition, civil liability, reliability and volatility for 66 years, and have a bullet-proof reputation like Teledyne Mattituck Services, it had better be factored into the decisions on the bottom line. Accountants are great, but be careful when they are making professional management decision for your organization. You may find that the numbers don’t generate themselves. High value people and service generate the bottom line.

I’m sure the decision has long been made to close the Mattituck facility and it probably won’t be revisited. I want the folks there to know their name is synonymous with dedication, professionalism, courteousness, and reliability. And that I will display my Mattituck heritage proudly for a long time coming.


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