News & Views
2020 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Michael Welch
Michael Welch worked his way up from intern to general manager, serving in a variety of roles at TAC Air, including line service technician and line service manager. He was then promoted to lead TAC Air-BDL as general manager and in 2020 moved to the general manager role at the TAC Air-APA FBO at Centennial Airport.
“I really enjoy the interaction with people on both the employee side as well as the customer side,” he said. “Every day is a challenge and when I look back on the day, week, month or year and see what our team has accomplished it is the most rewarding experience.”
While general manager of TAC Air-BDL at Bradley International Airport (BDL), Welch participated in the airport’s Fire Foam committee to minimize environmental impact. Because of his involvement on this committee, local FBOs were able to apply for code modifications to remove or not install foam fire suppression systems in hangars on a case by case basis.
Welch substantially decreased employee turnover at TAC Air-BDL and built a lasting service culture where employees and customers could thrive.
“The biggest thing I take pride in when thinking about our industry is the good done for the local communities it serves,” he said. “From medical aircraft, to dog and animal rescue transportation, to being a part of the growth for local businesses and economy to thrive. When I read news articles about new business or large events that drive economic growth and know we were part of making it happen, especially without most people knowing our role, it’s just plain rewarding.”
Welch was an early adopter through implementation of a remote control tug. Introducing this technology into daily FBO operations continues to advance safety margins and increases efficiency with the ability to fit more aircraft into each hangar.
He is an active member of aviation industry organizations including NBAA, AOPA and the Colorado Aviation Business Association (CABA). Each year at TAC Air-APA, Welch helps plan and host the Morgan Adams Concurs de Elegance fundraiser. In addition, he took part in the Morgan Adams Foundation Mentor for A Day program, where he hosted one of the organization’s survivors and showed him what it was like to work at an FBO.
Welch has been involved with Make a Wish helping grant wishes for several years and has volunteered his time to cook dinner on several occasions at the Ronald McDonald House.
Hometown: Buhl, Idaho
Alma Mater: Westminster College
Fun fact about yourself: I enjoy riding and working on Dirt Bikes.
Someone I look up to in the industry: I know it sounds trite, but in the industry I look up to our company’s owner, Greg Arnold. He has tremendous leadership and has built a privately owned company and team of people, who I also look up to, to be a long-term major player in an industry that is dominated by large publicly traded companies.
My favorite thing about aviation is: Just being in the industry. Being around the airport and aircraft on a daily basis. It’s fun to listen to people outside of the industry talk about aviation and airplanes, knowing I get to live it every day.
My dream aviation job: What I am doing now. General Manager of an FBO for a great company and living and working in a great city that puts me where I like to spend my free time - outdoors. I get the best of all worlds. Working in and managing business, being around aircraft and aviation, working with a great team of people and being close to the mountains.
TACenergy COO Fred Sloan Elected to SIGMA Board of Directors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Tad W Perryman, VP Marketing
Dallas, Texas (November 19, 2020) – Fred Sloan, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of TACenergy, a division of TAC - The Arnold Companies, has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA).
Founded in 1958, SIGMA is the national trade association representing the most successful, progressive and innovative fuel marketers and chain retailers in the United States and Canada. The association has served to further the interests of both branded and unbranded segments of the industry while providing information and services to members.
Sloan has been actively involved as a member of the SIGMA organization since joining TAC in 2013. During this time, he has served on several of the organizations’ committees, including the Young Executive Committee from 2013-2016, Membership Committee from 2015-2016 and the Legislative Committee starting in 2019-2020, and will continue to remain active this next year.
Sloan, who has served as TACenergy COO since 2013, looks forward to harnessing and uniting the capabilities of both organizations in his new role as a SIGMA Board Member furthering education and innovation within the fuel marketing industry as a whole, from upstream to midstream and downstream to the customer. TACenergy serves the midstream fuel market, with volumes exceeding two and a half billion gallons annually from a vast terminal supply network and regional sales offices located across the United States. Sloan also serves on the Board of the Texas Food and Fuel Association and holds positions on several charity boards in the Dallas Metro area.
“I look forward to joining fellow board members and industry leaders through active participation in the growth, education and support of strengthening one of the nation’s core infrastructure needs of supplying fuel to our growing economy. It is my honor to move to a higher level of engagement with this association supporting our industry on a national level via legislative, safety and regulatory efforts by having a seat at the table when federal, and in some cases states, make decisions that impact industry activity. I hope to add value leveraging the TACenergy network of customers, suppliers, carriers and ancillary supporting companies as they are integrally tied to the industry success.”
Sloan is a strategic commercial leader experienced in business line management, physical and futures markets, manufacturing, logistics, operations, P/L and procurement/sales activities. His background includes a Drexel education, with a Chemical Engineering Degree and an MBA in Finance. Sloan is an expert in risk management, inventory management, and developing new businesses. His experience leading large groups of sales and operations personnel, traders, manufacturing personnel and engineers in business functions and across technical areas consistently exceeds goals through leading by communicating. His communication and analytical skills cultivates productive internal and customer relationships and produces synergistic team work. Throughout his career, Sloan has focused on manufacturing operations and technical development, business management and commercial activities.
TACenergy is a Dallas, Texas based independent national wholesale distributor of refined petroleum products. Customers include branded and unbranded gasoline, as well as diesel retailers, industrial users, transportation, trucking, government, utilities, mining, construction, plus many other commercial user or resellers of fuel. TACenergy delivers added value to its customers through customized fuel management programs, a 24/7 Supply & Logistics call center and comprehensive carrier agreements. TACenergy has an annualized fuel volume exceeding 2.7 billion gallons, and a vast terminal supply network with fourteen regional sales offices spanning North America. TACenergy is a division of TAC - The Arnold Companies, a Texas-based aviation and energy marketing company. Learn more at www.tacenergy.com and www.thearnoldcos.com.
Founded in 1958 as the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA), SIGMA has become a fixture in the motor fuel marketing industry. After sixty years of leadership, SIGMA is the national trade association representing the most successful, progressive, and innovative fuel marketers and chain retailers in the United States and Canada. From the outset, the association has served to further the interests of both the branded and unbranded segment of the industry while providing information and services to members.
SIGMA’s approximately 260 corporate members command more 50 percent of the petroleum retail market, selling approximately 80 billion gallons of motor fuel each year. These member companies operate throughout the United States and Canada.
SIGMA’s benefits to member companies include government relations representation before Congress and the Administration, a wide variety of publications and timely mailings, as well as legal advice. The association holds meetings throughout the year to allow marketers and fuel suppliers to meet one-on-one and to give members a chance to participate in informative educational sessions. Leadership of the organization is provided by volunteers from SIGMA’s member companies, giving the association the advantage of advice from some of the most well-respected entrepreneurs in the nation. Learn more at www.sigma.org.
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What to Expect at Your Destination
FBOs have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by introducing new protocols that minimize infection risks.
Business aircraft travel is ramping up again, and FBOs are modifying their procedures to help ensure the safety of crew members, passengers and their own employees during the pandemic.
How are FBOs adapting to COVID-19 while maintaining a high level of service? What can you expect at your next destination? We talked with representatives from six organizations, ranging in size from companies with a few domestic locations to those with worldwide networks.
The first step in keeping FBO customers and employees safe and healthy was to perform risk assessments and then develop mitigation measures to address each specific risk in a reasonable manner.
“We identified the risks and implemented safety measures to mitigate them and limit potential exposure,” said TAC Air Chief Operating Officer Joe Gibney. “Our first step was approaching all cleanliness and safety guidelines through our regular, rigorous standards. Then we set up a team focus to make sure we met the NBAA and CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines.”
A Variety of New Procedures
One of the most noticeable procedural changes at FBOs is how transactions are conducted. Most operators surveyed have installed plexiglass barriers at customer service desks. Others have implemented contactless ordering and payment options through apps or other payment methods.
“We’ve taken extra measures from behind the transaction counters to be as touch-free as possible and diligent in our cleaning when it’s not.” - BOB SCHICK Director of Operations, TAC Air
Many FBOs also have implemented new policies regarding baggage handling, with line service people typically asking flight crews if they would like assistance, instead of automatically loading or unloading baggage.
Most FBOs surveyed also have changed their practices for handling third-party catering, as well as ice, coffee and refreshment services. Don’t expect to see cookies or popcorn in the FBO lobby. Individually packaged items might be provided instead. Coffee service might also be different. At most FBOs, ice and third-party catering are only handled by gloved personnel. At TAC Air and some other FBOs, catering is sealed with a sticker that is similar to tamperproof tape.
FBOs have implemented special policies for air ambulance aircraft or those carrying presumed positive passengers. Ideally, the pilot should notify the FBO prior to the aircraft’s arrival. FBO personnel will not interact directly with passengers and will communicate with crews only remotely via radio or other means. FBO personnel will also don appropriate personal protective equipment prior to servicing the aircraft.
Ground Transportation Policies Vary
Ground transportation procedures vary by location. While most FBOs continue to provide ramp-side delivery of personal or rental cars, if permitted by the airport, others have temporary halted this service.
Some passengers now prefer to sit in their own personal vehicle prior to departing from their home airport, rather than waiting in an FBO lobby. Geoff Heck of Signature Flight Support says his staff is prepared to accommodate that preference.
Tony Marlow, president of aviation operations and business development at Cooke & Castle, says the company’s Honolulu location encourages passengers and crew to avoid coming into the FBO by providing sanitized ground transportation on the ramp to minimize exposure at the facility. The FBO is NATA Safety 1st Clean certified, but nonetheless the company is discouraging unnecessary contact points. “We are encouraging a streamlined, cleaner arrival and departure process,” said Marlow.
Those FBOs that are providing ramp-side vehicle delivery are disinfecting surfaces such as steering wheels, knobs and door handles after a user has driven the vehicle. Most FBOs have continued valet parking services with similar sanitization procedures in place.
“TAC Air is using safety green ‘sanitized and clean’ stickers on door handles of shuttle vans and courtesy vehicles to indicate the vehicle has been disinfected between uses,” said Schick.
Emphasis on Personnel Hygiene, Sanitization
All FBOs surveyed shared a significantly increased focus on cleaning and disinfecting of common areas of their facilities, including lobbies, restrooms and offices. These areas are being cleaned more frequently and thoroughly several times daily.
“Customers can still expect great service, just tailored to fit safety protocols for both customers and employees, including increased cleanings and sanitation throughout the day, as well as hand sanitizers available throughout the FBOs,” said Glenn Rivenbark, general manager of Wilson Air Center Chattanooga.
Ross Aviation, which has connections to the hotel business, looked to that industry for guidance when implementing its sanitization, laundering and other procedures.
FBO personnel are encouraged to wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are feeling sick. Some FBOs, including Ross Aviation, are using infrared thermometers to take employee temperatures prior to each shift. Many FBOs have implemented remote work options for employees able to work at home and staggered shifts or separated workspaces for those who must work at the FBO.
FBOs are either requiring or encouraging their employees to wear masks or face coverings, in accordance with state requirements, typically when they are within six feet of another individual. Cy Farmer, Ross Aviation’s COO, said his company has issued “pan-dana” face coverings to all employees. But you won’t necessarily see ramp personnel wearing masks if the individual is fueling an aircraft far from other people.
Communicate and Collaborate
Collaboration – within an FBO organization and with industry partners and customers – is the key to successfully mitigating the risk of COVID-19 at ground facilities.
Perhaps one of the most significant impacts of the novel coronavirus has been the challenge of maintaining personal connections and networks during the pandemic, says Scott Harrold, president of consultancy SKYAviation International. Therefore, he and other experts recommend that aircraft operators and FBOs work closely with other industry partners, including aviation service providers and NBAA, to ensure a reasonable and effective approach to COVID-19 risk mitigation that will enable the industry to continue to provide outstanding customer service.
“Signature Flight Support took a collaborative approach between safety, operations and human resources to come up with a COVID playbook,” said Heck. “Consistency is the key.”