In RCAF Today 2019, we examine personnel retention, fighter procurement, future aircrew training and more!
What’s in a logo? For Columbia Aviation Companies (Columbia), one could say, “everything.”
Now approaching its 40th anniversary in 2020, this provider of aircraft sales, service, and management support has always put customer needs first. This commitment was originally symbolized in the 1980s-era Columbia logo that featured the twin-engine Piper Cheyenne. At the time, the Cheyenne represented Piper’s top of the line production aircraft and was a product that Columbia maintained.
The logo also showed the tall ship “Columbia,” to honor the seafaring heritage of Columbia Aviation Companies’ home town of Groton/New London, Connecticut. This part of New England was historically a center of maritime commerce and whaling.
“So much has changed since our company [since Columbia] was founded in 1980,” said Melissa Duzguner, vice president of administration with Columbia Aircraft Sales, a division of Columbia Aviation Companies. “In particular, the wonderful Cheyenne has been out of production for over 30 years. This is why our new logo features a swept wing, empennage and winglets, which we feel represent the evolution of general aviation production aircraft design and technology over our history. It symbolizes Columbia’s forward-looking attitude and commitment to investing in new technology.”
The new logo was scheduled to be officially launched at the companies’ flagship Groton-New London Airport fixed-based operator (FBO) location during the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Regional Fly-In from Oct. 6 to 7.
At the same time that it is adopting this new corporate look, Columbia Aviation Companies is doubling down on its customer-first focus.
“Our new look signals both change and continuity,” said Columbia co-founder Harry Holt. “It represents the changes in technology, aircraft and other parts of GA [general aviation]. But as those changes come we also continue to emphasize Columbia’s constant company-wide commitment to the quality of customer service, delivery of state-of-the-art aircraft, meticulous airframe, powerplant and avionics work and, above all, safety.”
Looking ahead, “2020 will be a milestone year for GA with the full implementation of ADS-B and NextGen–and a big year for Columbia,” said Columbia co-founder Art Maurice. “We’re planning now for that future to help our customers grow along with the industry. Along with our line services, avionics and maintenance services, we’re focused on meeting the needs of pilots with aircraft sales ranging from entry-level piston to top-performing business turboprops, including the Piper M600 and the Daher TBM series.”
In line with 2020’s approach, Columbia Aviation Companies has launched a number of forward-looking initiatives. They include advances in how the companies sell aircraft, service avionics, and train and retain their highly-skilled staff.
Columbia Aircraft Sales continues to expand services to aircraft buyers through partnerships with key providers of financing, insurance, training and other areas, to make aircraft purchasing as smooth as possible.
This includes identifying a pilot’s experience and goals, to match them to the aircraft that best fits their mission. The company also supports owner goals and planned transitions through its extensive experience in acquiring and selling pre-owned aircraft.
Because avionics is one of the most important and fastest changing areas of general aviation, Columbia recently bolstered the capabilities of its avionics shop with a computer-controlled panel-cutting machine. With this new equipment, aircraft owners can now clearly visualize and approve their own custom avionics panels prior to creation and installation.
Staff training and retention
As reflected in its new tagline, “Because Experience Matters,” Columbia is committed to both staff retention and training. At least six employees will have at least 30 years of experience with Columbia by 2020, representing a formidable knowledge base its owners believe is not found at other FBOs.
The company has launched programs for direct recruitment and support of students at regional technical schools. Columbia also intends to support scholarships to aid select students with formal airframe and/or powerplant training.
“Our people are the core of who we are,” said Duzguner. “That’s why we do our best to recognize their talent and keep them happy and motivated.”
The big picture
Taking a big picture view, the technology and requirements of general aviation are in a constant state of change. As a result, aircraft owners and operators need access to a reliable, established FBO with the engineering knowledge, cutting-edge equipment, and experienced technicians to keep their aircraft ready to fly more than ever–no matter how new or old these aircraft may be.
This is where Columbia Aviation Companies comes in. Its staff of elite technicians–many of whom have made their careers at Columbia–are masters in the science (and art) of keeping aircraft properly maintained and safely repaired.
“Our managers are so dedicated that they give their cellphone numbers to our customers,” said Duzguner. “When a customer experiences an aircraft on ground emergency, they can call on us for help–no matter what time of day or night it is.”
“Our new logo summarizes what Columbia is all about,” Duzguner concluded. “We’re forward-looking in our approach to aviation services, yet unwavering in our commitment to putting customers first!”