For our Perspectives series, we talk to experienced business aviation industry professionals who share with us their individual insights and offer a window into their world. This month's interviewee is Neil Book, CEO of JSSI. The company has made a number of key appointments in recent months, and has been recapitalised by GTCR, which Book hopes will secure its long-term prospects.
“It’s really exciting to be working with our new partner as we move into the future. GTCR has a proven track record of successful investments in the aviation industry, including Landmark Aviation, CAMP Systems and Gogo. We have a shared value system and commitment to innovation and growth. JSSI is a global business today. Roughly 40 per cent of our business is driven outside of North America. We continue to invest heavily in those markets, and I think that some of the less mature business aviation markets, specifically Asia and the Middle East, will benefit from our laser focus on technology and data transparency. "One of the key reasons behind our acquisition of Conklin & de Decker (C&DD) two years ago was the ability to leverage our 30 years’ worth of maintenance data to help provide transparency to operators on maintenance costs. We view C&DD as a virtual aircraft acquisition advisor. Our goal is to provide easy-to-access data around the operating costs of an aircraft. It is surprisingly difficult to get that information today, so we are trying to be an independent source that provides insight and visibility. We’ve been paying for maintenance on behalf of thousands and thousands of operators for 30 years. We manage 10,000 maintenance events a year; as a result, we understand maintenance costs probably better than anybody in the industry. You couple that with C&DD, which has been in the industry for close to 40 years, and you’ve got a powerful tool that can provide operating cost visibility to any owner or operator.
“We look to provide custom, bespoke reporting that will take into consideration each individual’s unique utilisation profile and operating profile to help them decide if it makes sense to purchase an aircraft and, if so, the make and model that will meet their needs. This is a tool that every broker should use. "When COVID-19 hit, business aviation flight hours dropped by 75 per cent. We charge our customers based on the number of hours that they fly, and when people stop flying it represents some challenges. We became hyper conservative in terms of how we managed our operating expenses. We looked at every dollar in and every dollar out. We also recognised that our customers – operators – were going to be hurting as well, so we tried to provide them with tangible financial relief. We’ve held 2019 flight hour rates for the entire year of 2020, meaning that none of our customers after February received a flight hour increase.As soon as we recognised that COVID-19 was a pandemic affecting everyone, and the world was starting to shut down, we held rates, we reduced our flight hour minimum requirements, we offered extended payment terms to customers. The first step was doing everything in our power to help ensure that our customers were OK. If our customers are not OK, we don’t have a business. "The last eight months have been a truly remarkable experience. I was so moved and inspired by the members of the JSSI organisation who were willing to make personal sacrifices to ensure the company’s health and viability. I can’t tell you how many people raised their hands to take pay cuts. Not that we took them up on their offer, but it was so selfless for people to do that, or not submit an expense in order to do their part so that we can come through this stronger than ever. You really get to know the quality and integrity of your team when you go through a crisis. I was blown away. As an industry, we’ve all demonstrated our resilience.
“We are going to continue to provide the highest possible level of service and invest in the highest quality technical people to help clients manage maintenance for their aircraft. We are going to continue to invest in businesses that allow us to improve our offerings, so that we can become a one-stop-stop. Our parts and leasing business has been the fastest-growing organisation in our portfolio, and we are going to continue to work hard to expand in the aftermarket business, having more inventory and lease engines available. We are really putting our foot on the accelerator with C&DD so that we can provide a personalised view based on unique operating requirements. We want to be at the forefront of that.”