It has been almost a year since Wilson Air Center took over Charlotte Douglas International Airport. We recently caught up with General Manager Vince Papke to see how things are going.
How is it being in partnership with the City of Charlotte?
It has been a very positive experience working closely with the City of Charlotte. The Airport managers and employees are always willing to help with a positive attitude.
What are some differences in dealing with the airport from a normal FBO?
The airport is more involved with all aspects of the operation than in the past .
What positive impact has occurred since Wilson took over?
The fuel sales increased 38% during the first two months. Based customers who never fueled started purchasing fuel due to the lower fuel price. Customers from the outlying airfieilds have returned. The employees are happy and they enjoy coming to work. As a result, the employees provide out standing customer service that is reflected by the positive customer comments.
What do you see in the eyes of the employees? Are they happier and more motivated?
I see a willingness to go above and beyond. The employees are much happier and motivated. The most common statement I hear from customers is, “… your employees are always smiling:’ The employees are
happier and motivated because they have enough support staff to serve the customer correctly. They have an ample amount of new equipment. With the addition of new positions, everyone’s job becomes a little easier.
What about the customers?
The customers have welcomed us with open arms. I haven’t heard one negative statement from our customers. They are extremely pleased with a much lower fuel price. Even though we are operating out of a
trailer, they know it is only temporary.
What is your business philosophy?
The focus is on the customer and hospitality. West rive to make our customers feel welcome at all times. Wilson Air Center employees are taught to remove t he words, “No, that’s not my job”and “this is the way it ‘s
always been done:’ They are not allowed to say the word, “No” to any customer request. They must be creative or consult a supervisor for a solution. All Wilson employees have the can do attitude.
What new positions have been created?
We have added two ramp concierges and two ramp van drivers. We added at least eight line service positions as well as one additional CSR. Two additional line supervisor posit ion s were added. One full time facility maintenance person and one full time IT technician. We have hired a full time Fuel Farm/Quality Control technician. We added a Line Manager position. We added a Charter Department with a Charter Manager
and Charter Coordinator. These last two positions handle all of the FAR Part 121 nonscheduled arrivals such as sports teams and NASCAR airline charters. For example, we service between 300 to 500 passengers per
week for NASCAR teams. Our airline charter manager handles this entire department .
Tell us a good story about something positive that has happened since opening?
Even though we successfully provide services for dignitaries, VIPs, rock groups, and NASCAR; one of the most notable successes was our support for the PGA Wachovia Championship. We handled numerous arrivals and departures in a short time frame without incident in a seamless and efficient manner. Several golfers including
Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, and Phil Mickelson offered praises and appreciation for the way we conducted ourselves not only with them but also with their families.
How has the relationship wit h SHELL and EAF been as compared to other fuel vendors?
Other fuel vendors are not as involved and rarely visit . We have developed relationships with the Eastern Aviation staff from the beginning. They were here to assist us on day one, just in case anything went wrong.
They have been supportive and responsive to any issues. When ordering fuel, the staff is extremely professional and courteous.
Summarize any other items that you want to let our readers know.
From day one, everything the Wilsons have said they would do they have done. The Wilsons create a family environment where employees are recognized by name for a job well done. They are compassionate and understanding to the employees’ needs. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable and not uptight and stressed. I also want to compliment the Aviation Director Mr. Jerry Orr, and his staff for their support and
commitment to our success.