national business aviation association Posts

Brad Pierce on Leadership Courage – 2017 NBAA Leadership Conference Video Interview

I was recently honored to participate in a video interview on the topic of Leadership Courage.  This video was presented to attendees at the 2017 NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) Leadership Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  I’ve transcribed the contents of my interview below for your reference, though I’m keenly aware that the spoken word doesn’t always translate grammatically correctly to written text.

I hope that you’ll find inspiration in my thoughts to reach higher and to live your life in a courageous way!

— Video Transcript Start —

I’m Brad Pierce, I’m President and CEO of Restaurant Equipment World.  Our company serves over 100,000 customers in 110 countries and all 50 states domestically.  We sell everything from pots and pans up to and including the kitchen sink.  If it’s in a foodservice facility and it’s not food, chances are my company supplies it.

Aviation was a passion of mine even before joining the company.  I was spending a lot of time in the car traveling.  One day I decided well I’m going to take the airplane down to Fort Lauderdale… and flew a little Cessna at the same time, went to Fort Lauderdale, met with the customer, had a fantastic lunch and ended up actually closing the deal.  Flew back and I still had an afternoon that I could do more work.  I said, “huh, there’s something to this.”  I found that when I would go and see customers in person, that we would close the deals.  I often joke that when the wheels of my airplane touch the ground, the cash register rings, because it happens every single time.

You need to have courage in order to embrace change.  The business aviation aspect of our business is just something that is so critical and core to our growth.  Spending resources on what is quite frankly a very expensive proposition for a business, it takes courage to take that leap of faith to talk to family members, in our case the family business that’s perhaps the hardest board you can have is people that you’re related to.  To have the courage to stand up for what you know is right for the business.

If we were to continue to do things the way that we were doing them, we would be irrelevant and not exist today.  When it came to using business aviation, I absolutely positively felt that this was the right path for our organization.

Leadership courage is doing the right thing even when no one else is watching.  It takes leadership courage to take calculated risks, to reach new heights, in your business, in your personal life.

I believe it takes courage to show up at the airport and race over when you have a call at 7 o’clock at night and they say, “Brad would you like to save a life tonight?”  Absolutely, absolutely positively.  It takes courage to blast off into the unknown.  That particular day, I raced to the airport and I said, “Where am I going?”  They said, “We have no idea, it’s somewhere in South Florida.”  I said, “Who am I taking?”  They said, “We don’t really know, we just know that there’s a match for an organ patient.”  I said, “Okay, sounds good to me.”

It takes courage to say “Yes” even when there are unknowns, because you know you’re doing something that is going to be worthwhile, that is going to turn out really, really well, despite… being a bit scary.  You have the courage to just go and do it, to say “Yes.”

Living life in a courageous way and doing the right thing always leads to phenomenal results.

— Video Transcript End –w

I would like to close by extending a very special thank you to Jet Professionals (a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Jet Aviation, a General Dynamics Company) for sponsoring my leadership courage profile video.  I’d also like to express a huge THANK YOU to conference co-chairs and truly fantastic people, Reggie Arsenault (Jeppesen, a Boeing Company) and Josh Mesinger (Mesinger Jet Sales), for an doing such an amazing job on the entire conference!

Join Brad in Las Vegas for NBAA 2013 and Pubcon 2013

NBAA 2013 Las Vegas Logo  Pubcon 2013 Las Vegas Logo

It’s time to hit Las Vegas for two great conventions beginning on October 21st, 2013.  I lucked out this year when I found out that both conventions were being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center the same week.  I’ll be bouncing back and fourth between the two events throughout the week so it’s safe to say I’ll be putting some miles on my shoes.

Here’s some information about both conferences:

NBAA – The National Business Aviation Association is hosting its annual convention which consists of every major company involved in the aviation industry.  The convention center will be packed with airplanes and exhibitors and is always a great event.  The airport will host a static display of aircraft that’s impressive.  There are also plenty of informative seminars if you’re interested in learning more about general aviation topics and best practices.  I’ve been actively involved with the organization for years and am a big fan of all the great work they do.

Pubcon – The Pubcon convention is a premier search engine marketing / SEO conference.  I’ve attended the conference for 10+ years now and continue to find value in the content.  This conference is geared towards folks who are technically minded who make great things happen online.  It’s a great venue for sharing ideas and brushing shoulders with the best of the best in the online marketing arena.  Of all the tech conferences I attend each year, this particular one is on my must attend list.  I’ll be speaking at the conference at 10:30am on Thursday talking about what it takes to grow an successful online business.

After Hours – If you’re looking to catch up with me after hours, I’ll be at various events for both conferences.  On Monday evening, I’ll be at the Pubcon Kickoff Event at the convention center then over at the Hard Rock with Pubcon attendees.  On Tuesday evening, I’ll be attending the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) dinner, then the AvFuel, Phillips 66, and Rockwell Collins parties.  On Wednesday evening, I’ll be at the Pubcon Networking Party at the Monte Carlo.  Knowing it’s Vegas, I’m sure many more venues and events will be added to the list, but these I’ve listed are confirmed.

I’ll be landing in Vegas sometime late-afternoon on Monday.  I’m looking forward to seeing many business partners and friends at both of these fantastic conferences!  See you in Vegas!

Brad’s NBAA No Plane No Gain Print Advertisement

“To compete with Goliath, David used a slingshot. I rely on a business airplane.” – Brad Pierce

I’m currently participating in the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) No Plane No Gain advertising campaign. It’s truly been an honor to be included in this fantastic initiative which highlights the vital role business aviation plays everyday across our great nation. The advertising campaign features well known individuals such as Warren Buffet, Arnold Palmer, and Neil Armstrong, along with several regular everyday folks like myself who use business aviation effectively in our businesses.

While I run a small business based in Orlando, Florida, my customers are located throughout the country. At a time when e-mail, instant messaging, and video chats have become the norm, it’s more important than ever that I meet with my customers face-to-face. The value of a firm handshake and being able to look valued customers and vendor partners in the eye has never been greater than now. There is no substitute when you care about your customers and want to give them the best service imaginable. In order to compete and succeed against larger competitors, we need to be laser-focused, nimble and seize opportunities without the typical delays and inefficiencies of commercial airline travel. The best tool in my arsenal for competing effectively is my Cirrus SR22 Turbo Aircraft. It allows us to quickly, safely and efficiently get more business done in less time and continually helps to grow my business. More business means more job creation, more growth for my employees, and the ability to deliver world class service to my customers. Business aviation works for my company, my employees and my customers. Business aviation works for America.

View Brad Pierce’s NBAA No Plane No Gain Print Advertisement:   PDF VersionJPG Version

You can also view the entire collection of No Plane No Gain Print Advertisements by visiting NBAA’s No Plane No Gain website.

Several of these ads will also be published and distributed in various print media publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Roll Call, The Hill and Politico.

The No Plane No Gain advertising campaign is a a joint undertaking of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

Brad’s Testimony Before U.S. Congress – Aviation User Fees

I recently had the honor of testifying before the U.S. Congress Committee on Small Business regarding aviation user fees.  The hearing was entitled, User Fees in the Aviation Industry: Turbulence Ahead, and took place on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 in Washington, DC.  This hearing was initiated by Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO), who is Chairman of the committee.  The purpose of this hearing was to discuss the impact on small businesses of an additional $100 per flight fee proposed by the Obama administration.  I was speaking to the committee on behalf of the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

My testimony focused on the important role general aviation has played to help build my business, increase our sales despite a sluggish economy, and hire additional employees.  I own and operate a Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft which I can honestly say is one of my absolute best employees.  It allows myself and my staff members to travel quickly, safely and efficiently to customer locations, industry events and to manufacturing partner facilities.  I’ve flown my Cirrus to 49 states in pursuit of new business and to nurture and grow existing relationships successfully.  We simply could not do what we do without our airplane.

The current system of taxation is based upon fuel consumption, ie: each gallon of fuel purchased has a federal excise tax included, which congress has the ability to adjust if necessary.  This is a straightforward taxation method (perhaps the most simple and effective in our government), wherein those who fly more tend to burn more fuel and therefore pay more taxes.  I fly a lot, a whole lot.  I fly far (nationwide), I burn a lot of fuel, and I pay a lot more taxes than an individual who’s making small regional flights burning less fuel.  That makes sense – I’m going further distances and using more services, therefore I should be paying more into the system and am happy to do so.  The system works, it’s not broken, so this feels very much like a solution looking for a problem to solve.

The Obama administration has proposed that each flight should be charged an additional $100 user fee on top of the current excise fuel tax.  This makes no sense to me as there’s no direct correlation between usage and the proposed new taxation method.  There’s been a position among some proponents that this is “fair” because everyone pays the same additional equal amount.  Each aircraft paying an equal amount however is not “fair”.  The aviation infrastructure was built for the commercial airlines, not for the general aviation sector.  For instance, when I landed my Cirrus at Washington’s Dulles International Airport to attend this hearing, I landed on an 11,500 foot runway that was 150 feet wide and several feet deep of concrete.  This runway wasn’t built for my Cirrus or many other general aviation planes, it was built to handle heavy airliners.  I needed only a fraction of the available runway (length, width and depth) to land safely.  Saying that the cost of that runway (that’s part of our aviation infrastructure) should be split “fairly” and “equally” between both of us would be like going out to dinner and ordering a salad while your friend gets a five course meal then suggests it’s “fair” and “equal” to split the check down the middle.  It just doesn’t make sense.

In addition to the inequality I demonstrated above, another important factor to recognize is the massive infrastructure that would need to be put into place in the government to administer and collect from a user fee based system.  We’d effectively create a whole new bureaucracy, aptly referred to by many in the aviation industry to be named the SKY-R-S.  This new administration could raise fees (taxes) at any time without congressional approval which is a very dangerous proposition.  Given the vast amount of resources and personnel needed for such a program, it’s highly probably an increase in fees would be necessary just to cover this additional overhead.

Equally troublesome is the thought of having to dedicate additional resources and manpower within my own small business for the accounting function of auditing, paying, and handling these fees.  This money would add expense (beyond the flat $100 fee) to our operations which could better be spent growing our business and helping our customers grow their businesses. There is no need to add this additional burden to businesses who are already needing to be laser focused on efficiencies to compete effectively.

I invite you to watch the video presentation of the full hearing for a better understanding of this issue and all of the various points presented.  I was truly honored to be among an esteemed panel of individuals, most notably Martha King of King Schools, who did a phenomenal job expressing her position on behalf of the NBAA.  (As a side note, both John and Martha King are incredibly warm and wonderful people.  I can’t express how much I enjoyed getting to know them and was honored to testify along with Martha).  As you watch the video during the question and answer period, you may notice there was a brief tense moment between myself and the ranking Congresswoman on the committee.  Due to the phrasing of her question, I simply could not allow myself to advocate writing a “blank check” proclaiming that we should should raise aviation taxes.  I feel this is a more complex issue (including the numerous reasons I stated above) and that it’s necessary to look into the details and implications further.  I was clear in my answer however that if congress votes to increase aviation taxes, I would prefer for it to be done in the form of the existing excise fuel tax method instead of by creating new user fees.  While it was slightly uncomfortable to be in disagreement, I’m glad that I chose to stand up for my beliefs and not agree with a position I did not fully support.

I hope that each person reading this narrative will recognize that you too can make a difference when it comes to government and legislation.  I’m a normal guy who operates a small business and uses a general aviation aircraft to grow my business.  I’m not an aviation legend or a household name, but I stepped forward to support my beliefs and genuinely feel like I made a difference.  I invite each of you to do the same, contact your Congressmen and Senators.  Express your concern and let them hear your story of how aviation user fees will affect your business.  Together, we can make a difference and get user fees off the table once and for good.

Lastly, I would like to give a very special thanks to the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) as well as to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).  Both of these organizations work diligently on behalf of the general aviation industry and do a phenominal job.  I’ve gotten to know many of the staff members and leaders from both organizations and can adamantly say they are among the best, brightest and most dedicated people I’ve ever known.  They care about all interests in general aviation, both big and small, and I’m honored to be a member of both organizations.   I would also like to thank Congressman Sam Graves for initiating this hearing, along with the respected Congressional leaders who attended and participated in it.  Their time and energy invested was greatly appreciated and I was honored to have the opportunity to speak before them regarding this important issue.

Links to More Information and Resources:

User Fees in the Aviation Industry: Turbulence Ahead – Hearing Information

User Fees in the Aviation Industry: Turbulence Ahead – Brad Pierce – Testimony

User Fees in the Aviation Industry: Turbulence Ahead – Video of Hearing

 

Join Brad at the 2012 AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs

I’ve been asked to speak again at this year’s 2012 AOPA Aviation Summit which will be held October 11-13th in Palm Springs, California.

I’ll be a panelist on an educational seminar entitled “Light Business Airplane Conference: Mission Critical: Using Aviation to Grow Your Business”This seminar is being presented as a collaboration between the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).  It will be moderated by Mike Nichols who is the Vice President of Operations, Education, and Economics for NBAA.

The focus of this seminar pertains to using general aviation airplanes for your business needs.  Myself and the other panelists will explain exactly how we’ve used our airplanes to grow our companies and enhance our lives.  I can honestly say that our company wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our Turbo SR22 Cirrus Aircraft and the huge advantage it’s provided to us over our competition.  Information presented will be packed with real world experience showing how using GA in your business is not only possible, but will be a game changer for your organization.  There will also be plenty of time for Q&A to get answers from panelists and the NBAA regarding business aviation usage.

Mark your calender to spend October 11-13th in Palm Springs, California with myself and other aviation enthusiasts and professionals for a fantastic event you won’t want to miss.  My particular panel session will be held on Saturday, October 13, 2012 from 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM in the Mojave room at the convention center.

You can register for the 2012 AOPA Aviation Summit by visiting http://www.aopa.org/summit/.

You can learn more about the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) by visiting http://www.nbaa.org/.