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Business Jet Puts This NBAA Company LaBov & Beyond the Competition
Fort Wayne, IN-based LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications is able to attract clients located in New York City, Chicago and elsewhere across the country because of its business aircraft.
Agencies that specialize in advertising and marketing communications usually set up shop in large cities so they can be near dozens of local clients and have the potential to serve many more clients across the country by having access to a large commercial airport.
However, LaBov & Beyond chooses to use business aviation to reach its clients, located across the nation, rather than relying on time-consuming trips by airline.
Fort Wayne is our home. It sounds easy to say 'uproot everybody,' but it's not plausible for us," says CEO Barry LaBov. "We have an established community and people who love being in the Midwest. For us to move is just not viable; it's not an option."
The company collaborates with clients to develop strategies to address its communication and marketing needs, a process that requires face-to-face meetings. Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA), however, only has a few commercial flights, and a majority of them connect to larger airports in Chicago and Cincinnati. Therefore, if LaBov relied only on the airlines to meet its travel needs, it would take the better part of an entire workday to reach its clients.
"I did not want to fatigue my employees," LaBov said of his decision to invest in a Cessna Citation CJ1 business jet. "The kind of travel and the work we're doing will beat you up physically. I had to find a way to make it easier to do business with all these exciting clients."
He says that in a small market like Fort Wayne, advertising and marketing companies usually focus on smaller, local businesses, or choose to serve one large, local client. Using a business aircraft means that LaBov & Beyond has the flexibility to meet with clients anywhere in the country within just a few hours' notice, which in turn means that the company can compete with larger, national marketing firms for clients nationwide.
Local Talent, National Reach
LaBov has lived in Fort Wayne for most of his life, as have most of his company's staff and leadership. The ability to reach clients all over the country and return home to Fort Wayne the same day is a priceless advantage to owning a business aircraft, he says. That sentiment is shared by the staff.
Creative Director Chris Swymeler says working for LaBov and having access to the jet enable his family to stay in Fort Wayne. "I like Fort Wayne. I want to live here. I don't want to live in New York, because I'm a midwestern guy. Having access to the jet enables me to work on a national level, but still live locally," he says.
Face-to-face meetings are essential for the company, Swymeler explains. "If you are sitting across the table from a client and see he isn't responding to one particular idea, you can alter your presentation or pitch to better meet his needs.
That's not something you can do as effectively over a speakerphone," he says. Having access to a business aircraft also means that LaBov & Beyond can be more responsive to rapidly changing client requirements. As an example, Swymeler said he was able to quickly put together a photo shoot for Terex Corporation, a LaBov client that manufactures mining equipment, among other products, in Gillette, WY.
"I was able to take my Fort Wayne-based photographer and videographer on the jet with me," Swymeler said. "Using proven local talent cuts the cost of projects in half. It also turns a two-day trip into a one-day trip. My client saves money and we save money because I am able to be back at work in Fort Wayne the next day."
LaBov staff members submit requests to use the aircraft to Patricia Love, who schedules LaBov's flights when a face-to-face meeting is needed. Commercial airlines are used when they can provide efficient transportation, and when staff members use the company plane, they coordinate trips so that the CJ1 is used as effectively as possible.
For example, according to Love, four staff members flew on a recent mission from Fort Wayne to Detroit to meet with clients.
Then the airplane took other staffers from LaBov's Detroit office and flew them to Herndon, VA for the day.
Barry LaBov, despite his passion for business aviation, is only on the plane 10 percent of the time. "We don't have a private jet; we have a business jet," says LaBov. "It's something I tell people all the time."
Emphasis on Safety, Efficiency
LaBov has two pilots who fly every mission, taking turns serving as pilot-in-command of the flights. Scott Bressler, chief pilot, and Jaime Miller, captain, have a combined 30,000 hours of flying experience. "It makes sense for us to have two pilots on each flight," says LaBov. Bressler and Miller manage the CJ1's maintenance needs by overseeing the support work that is done at a fixed base operator located at FWA.
The two pilots often visit the NBAA web site to obtain important information on business aviation. The Association's Online Directory helps them stay in touch with colleagues and friends at other businesses.
Sonya Beckley, an account manager and public relations specialist for the company, says she uses www.nbaa.org to stay on top of legislative issues on Capitol Hill. "It really helps us keep track of what's going on in the industry and learn more about business aviation."
LaBov Promotes Business Aviation
LaBov says he and his colleagues are so passionate about their aircraft that they have begun to advocate for business aviation after negative stereotypes of business airplane use recently were portrayed in the media.
"I found it very disturbing to see how business jet travel was being portrayed after the Big Three automaker executives flew to Washington, DC on their company jets," LaBov said, referring to the sensationalist media coverage associated with a November 2008 congressional hearing.
"It's easy to be frustrated about it, but we have to remind people of the value of business jets, as opposed to saying the backlash is unfair. It is unfair, but we have to do something about it," he says.
Beckley and others at the company noticed the work that NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association were doing to confront misperceptions, like launching the No Plane No Gain advocacy program.
That industry response inspired LaBov & Beyond to make its own voice heard, and as a result, the company provided a way for others around the country to present the real story of business aviation. LaBov & Beyond recently set up a web site called Truth Above Turbulence (www.truthaboveturbulence.com) that asks business aircraft operators to post their success stories on the site.
"Our whole company is based upon passion, and Barry is passionate about the benefits of business aircraft travel," says Beckley. "It's about going out on a limb to defend something you believe strongly in. The jet has been a key to our success, as it has been for thousands of other companies."