Winners and losers

Regardless of what kind of business you are in, there is one common component that has massive influence on whether you experience economic success or disaster. That component is known as the customer. Yep, customers are the magic elixir of business, regardless of whether you’re selling toothpaste, muscle cars, or flight lessons. In the end it’s all about the customer.

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A word of advice: Be polite for a better outcome

When viewed from a comfortably detached perspective, the ironies of life can be entertaining. Let’s face it, we all get a lot of good stories from the oddities that happen all around us. Then again, those same ironies can be an infuriating series of experiences if seen from a viewpoint that includes personal involvement.

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Don’t forget the little guy

As regular readers of this column may have noted, I often write about airports and administrative issues that effect the municipally owned airports of Polk County, Florida. Because most of the issues that one airport faces will eventually become an issue for others, there is a certain universality to the topics covered here, even if the focus does appear on the surface to be narrow, including only the four municipally owned airports in this county.

That’s the magician’s trick of it all. There aren’t four airports in my county. The four airports I’ve mentioned here, in relation to the Polk Aviation Alliance for instance, are just the tip of the iceberg. They are the big dogs in a kennel filled with dozens of yapping pooches. You see, although there may be only four municipally owned airports in my county, it is entirely reasonable to say that there are as many as 40 aviation bases of operation.

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The loser in us all

The saying goes, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” That’s true for the most part. But of course the corollary to that expression is, “If you play you will lose — at least sometimes.” That’s the reality of the situation. Get used to it.

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Say again?

I get no joy out of admitting this, and I certainly mean no disrespect by discussing it publicly, but almost every week I get at least one email that makes no sense to me at all. I feel bad about that, because the person who sent the message almost certainly had something specific in mind. It seems likely they intended to convey an idea that was of importance to them. But they only got half the job done. They sent the email, they just forgot to read it to make sure it actually said what they intended it to before hitting the send button.

Of course poor communication isn’t limited to badly written emails. [Read more…]

The $64 million answer

Here’s a good quiz question for you: What do Stuart Jet Center, in Stuart, Florida, Region Air in Sparta, Tennessee, and Missouri Aviation Center in Warrensburg, Missouri, have in common? They’re all running specials with discounts on fuel for pilots traveling to Sun ‘n Fun. That’s right, the reach of Sun ‘n Fun extends well outside the borders of Florida. Said another way, general aviation has a positive economic impact on North America that is absolutely undeniable. Better yet, it’s quantifiable — and that matters to all of us.

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General aviation as an asset

There were six of us sitting around the table. The local economic development council had just announced the hiring of a new executive director, and the new guy was making the rounds to meet and greet as many people as he could before his official start date rolled around. So the city manager, two directors, a city commissioner, and an economic development council member sat down to talk business at city hall.

The new guy is competent, assertive, accomplished, energetic, and has a head crammed full of ideas to make our economy more diverse, more robust, and just plain more, frankly. [Read more…]

The problem with the press

Periodically I give readers a peek into the political world I inhabit. The intent is to provide some context for the battle ahead of you if you try to buck the tide in even the slightest way. Bringing radical new ideas to the table, like making the most of your local general aviation airport by touting its benefits to the community, will undoubtedly cause you to run afoul of co-workers, friends, family, and even the press from time to time.

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Making the airport work for all of us

Like a lot of cities and towns in America, my city has a program in place that is designed to help business professionals segue into becoming civic leaders. The program is called, fittingly enough, Leadership Winter Haven, and it is operated through the local Chamber of Commerce. It is a formalized, seven-month long program that allows each leadership class to get up close and personal with aspects of the city and its economy that they might not normally be exposed to. Periodically they take a day-long excursion to see and interact with such varied economic facets of our area as tourism, technology, city and county government, education, light industry, media, and agriculture. Last week they visited Gilbert Field, our airport.

I was scheduled to make a brief presentation to the group, but since life has a way of throwing curve balls at us, I found myself stuck between two tasks. I had the option of being late to my own presentation while I delivered my daughter to school after an orthodontist appointment, or my daughter could be even later to school than we’d planned, which would be inconvenient for her, but it would allow me to be on time to speak to the class.

Guess who got the short end of that stick?

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