When I founded GA Telesis I knew the direction I wanted to take the company. I never envisioned the company as a tool to create a job for myself, but rather something much bigger. I was also never that guy that always dreamed of being my own boss, being CEO yes, my own boss no. In fact, I have had some pretty great bosses and co-workers along the way and from each and every one of them I learned a lot. Let’s start there.
I began my career in aviation while serving in the United States Navy. There is no better place to receive a pseudo-Ph.D. in leadership than the United States Military. The many people I served with during my tenure in the USN molded me into someone that understands that hard work, dedication, fortitude and resilience are key elements to leadership and success. In fact, the Navy taught me to love aviation. However, when I left the Navy, my desire to be in a leadership position far outweighed my desire to work in my beloved aviation. Who would think that 25 years later I would still be surrounded by things that fly?
Entering the corporate world was quite an easy transition and yes, I accidentally fell upon a position in aviation. Frankly, my military service took my work ethic to extreme levels. Eight hour days were a walk in the park and it wasn’t long before my eight hour days turned into sixteen hour days. It was a walk in the park compared to deployments where we worked 16 hours a day without a day off for months. The fact is the more I worked, the more I learned, and the more I learned the more I was able to move up quickly and earn more money. That was a key difference between the military and the corporate world; the ability to earn and rise quickly. Within four years I rose quickly through the ranks. First I became my boss’s boss, then his boss’s boss and by my fourth year, I reported to the CEO and ran all operations and sales. It was then that I got the attention of others in the industry and was subsequently offered a position in a different state and in a very different role, but for less money. I resigned gracefully, provided enough of a notice period and vowed to be my former company’s biggest industry advocate.
On to the new role and challenge of living in a more expensive city and making less money. The reality was that it was the opportunity to learn something new rather than money that drove me to the position; but still in my treasured aviation industry. I remember my first day vividly. I arrived ready for the new challenge and ready to show off my work ethic and passion for making things happen. The first eight hours came and went in what seemed like a minute and yet the office was still full of people. Could it be that I had found my dream job? Dream job it was! I was surrounded by some of the brightest, most successful people in the industry and where I received my equivalent of a Ph.D. in business. The people I worked for and with were incredible and I learned a ton from each and every one of them. In fact, it was at that job that I had the idea for what was to one day become GA Telesis. Like every good sailor, I knew that when the ship reached port I would have to disembark in favor of creating my dream – GA Telesis.
Day-zero at GA Telesis was working on building the framework of what the company would become. Things were tough at first – living with no income. From our master bedroom office, my wife and I worked tirelessly on developing a plan that we could execute. However, this plan would depend on two key variables: the right people and funding. I had a good idea on the people so I focused on funding. Within a few months, I had scraped together enough funding to get started. Now it was time to focus on the people. I brought in high-end people that would become the framework of GA Telesis and we spent the first months setting up the infrastructure to become huge. I remember people mocking me because I top-loaded the company in the early days. But remember, it was never my intention to be a small company. I wasn’t creating a job in aviation for myself, I was building a company.
Fast forward, 17.5 years later and GA Telesis has become one of the fastest growing companies in the sector. With a CAGR of over 20% since inception, the GA Telesis team is constantly striving to become better and to enter into new sectors within the aviation industry. As I look back and I look ahead, I point to one thing that was instrumental in our getting here. It was never about me, rather it was about the almost 600 dedicated team members that are committed to excellence. GA Telesis is no longer just a company, but rather a brand- a brand synonymous with hard work, dedication, fortitude and resilience.
So there is the recipe; sound familiar?