So I was asked by Leslee Horner to write a blog for her “click” contributors. You know the hallways with the light switch at either end? Keep this in mind and I hope you enjoy one of many “click” moments
Working for the Big Airline company isn’t all that it is made out to be. Yes there is the benefit of cheap flights, but when you only have a couple of years seniority it doesn’t matter, you ain’t getting on! The good flights to anywhere warm are booked and the seniority list is deep with the 20 to 25 year employees taking the last of the seats in the back. 2003 was starting to look pretty good for aviation in Canada, the 9/11 hell was beginning to fade and people were starting to travel again. By this time I had survived 3 layoff attempts and was starting to feel somewhat secure. I probably should have “clicked” right there, but I am a guy we are somewhat slow at times on the upswing! Well as I was saying things were looking up (yes an aviation pun)! I had just been accepted on a Boeing 737NG course (600-900 series of aircraft) and was excited to have that endorsement in my back pocket. We completed the first 3/4 of the course at our base facility and the rest was to completed at the Renton Wa. facility. Nearing the end of the simulator training we all got the news our company had filed for bankruptcy protection. The weird thing was all of our first reactions were HOLY CRAP who is paying for this course!! After we all calmed down and the more senior mechanics called the office and the union leadership I understood what this meant, time to beef up the resumé. It was odd that the airline would announce their bankrupcy on April 1 though!! A layoff notice was handed to me upon my return to Vancouver and the next day it was rescinded as I was one of only a few with that type endorsement. Next came a forced transfer from heavy maintenance to line maintenance with the final axe falling in September of 2003.
On goes the light switch “click”
I had always kept my fingers on the pulse of the private sector of aviation, so with a colleague, I ventured into the difficult world of general aviation and became a co-owner of an Avionics company as of November 2003. Lots of blood, sweat and tears went into that company for 3 years. There was a WWII hangar that housed several companies at the airport we wanted to be at, so we took possession of some open shop space and walled in an office and stores area from that. It may not have been a change in career direction but it was a huge change in comfort level. As we were getting ready to open our doors to the public I had a huge fear that I would not be able to find enough demand for our services and we would be closed down as quick as we opened up. I am glad to say that we managed to crawl, then walk along for 3 hard-working years. Self employment is not to be taken too lightly. It is a wonderful way to manage your own career, but unless you are in a high demand field you better be ready for some dry spells. In the private sector of aviation in Canada there are certainly some dry spells. As with any small company we had our share of ups and downs. Several of our loyal customers came back for more upgrades, we expanded enough and hired a couple of apprentices too. I got into a few verbal arguments with a couple of clients about the safety of their aircraft, one even threatened a lawsuit. Our company was fortunate enough to do some consulting which resulted in a few trips to Pago Pago Samoa. One day we had this job to do for a local aviation company, assisting them with some paperwork issues, when they approached us and asked if we would be interested in working for them. I remember my partner and I debating for a few hours on the pros and cons but when the final decision was made and with guarantees that our apprentices would come with us, we closed the doors on our business.
Off goes the light switch “click”
In aviation the smaller companies only “exist” and very few grow to anything substantial. Many are happy to walk along in their own little fiefdom and not grow at all. This was not what we wanted to do! The writing for us was on the wall when we made our decision to close the doors. I will always hold my head high knowing that I succeeded (yes we had a higher gross profit every year) and got out of ownership just as the aviation sector tumbled yet again. I am happy I had my time as an owner, I am grateful that it provided me a opportunity to be where I am today. I am still following my love for aviation and I will be around it forever. I would encourage anyone to follow their dreams or loves, it does keep you happy.
Tod aka AvionicsMan