The MRO Services Group and GA Telesis ended 2019 on a high note. Achieving new financial performance records and our legendary holiday party was the best one ever! As we bid farewell to 2019, we were excited to roll into 2020 with a set of goals and objectives that would bring us to another record year, and we were armed with new customer agreements to make it happen. January 2020 began like any other year in my career; I booked meetings and traveled through Europe and the US before the news of a new virus hit the mainstream media. My last trip was to Austin, Texas, for the ISTAT Americas Conference in early March, and it was attended by over 1,200 people from around the world. The virus was a small talk topic of conversation, but for the most part, no one seemed to be too concerned about it.
Shortly after returning from Austin, we faced complete mayhem in our industry. International flights were cancelled, and domestic flights were curtailed because of the large number of states that implemented lockdowns. The question on our team’s mind was not whether we would survive the crisis, but rather, how do we become stronger coming out of the crisis?
To answer that question, one must look at the team and the culture we have built at GA Telesis MRO Services. The management team comprises aviation veterans working alongside younger staff who barely remember the world financial crisis just years earlier. Perhaps, this was a key contributor to our success during this new crisis.
Indeed, we did not want to operate in a crisis mode but rather implement meaningful steps to minimize any negative impact on the business and avoid disrupting our teammate’s lives. As early as February, the rumbles of the pandemic grew louder and louder. The aviation veterans on our team had seen several crises before and spotted the warning signs very early. The entire management team began reviewing our cost structure, and nothing was off the table. We kicked into full speed in the middle of March and by the end of April, we were able to reduce our SG&A without laying-off a single staff member. The result: MRO Services Group has been profitable every quarter during the pandemic. This positive result is a credit to the composition and culture of the team. Our teams were able to challenge our preconceived notions and step outside our comfort boundaries.
Leaders must lead, and this is more evident during a crisis. Communication was a key strategy as the country entered a shutdown. I gathered the entire GA Telesis MRO Services team and reassured them we had seasoned leaders that had successfully managed several crises during their careers. I believe leaders must bring a sense of calm while not sugar-coating the realities of any situation. The truth shall always prevail. The GA Telesis MRO Services team understood it would be a challenging year, but we would become a better company with everyone’s support. Our team focused on delivering a quality product on-time, every time as our mission is “Customer Success.” Those are not just our stated words, but they are sprawled all over our walls. This is the mantra by which our team lives in support of our customers. As such, the GA Telesis team fully understands that our success is directly related to our customers’ success.
No one could have predicted the extent and the depth of this crisis. By far, this is the worst crisis we have faced in aviation; however, I know our industry is not unfamiliar with a shock to its system. Over the years, this industry has managed to excel during difficult times, and I am confident we will do that again.
So, you may be wondering how GA Telesis MRO Services did in 2020. Well, we finished our financial year at the same level as 2019! And instead of layoffs, we hired new, great people to augment our team’s strengths. So, our vision of becoming stronger during a crisis was not just an empty hope. We had a plan and executed on it.