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.
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.”
TAC Air Expands Far North With Acquisition of Prior Aviation FBO At Buffalo Niagara International Airport
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Tad W Perryman, VP Marketing
TAC Air Expands Far North With Acquisition of Prior Aviation FBO At Buffalo Niagara International Airport
TAC Air - BUF location brings the network count to 16 U.S. FBOs
DALLAS, TEXAS (October 1, 2020) — TAC Air, a division of TAC - The Arnold Companies, is expanding its presence into New York with the addition of its 16th FBO location, TAC Air - BUF, at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Acquiring Prior Aviation assets associated with its fixed base operations, TAC Air also plans to maintain the 120 associates supporting these operations. The full range of FBO services, including fuel, hangar and aircraft handling, as well as supporting the market’s commercial airlines with into-plane fuel, charter handling, cargo services, de-icing and airline maintenance, will be offered by TAC Air. The campus has over 126,000 square feet of hangar and office space across four structures housing private aircraft, charter services, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, flight departments and a flight training school.
“We are excited to add Buffalo as a new location to our FBO network and welcome its employees and customers to the TAC Air family,” said Greg Arnold, TAC Chairman and CEO. “The family history and culture established for the past 60 years from Jack Prior to Reginald Newman and now to his son Clark Newman resembles the TAC Air focus to provide the best ground services, making an easy transition for general and business aviation aircraft based in and visiting the Buffalo area.”
“I am pleased that the dedicated and loyal employees of the Prior FBO will have the opportunity to work for another great family business in The Arnold Companies,” stated Clark C. Newman, President of Prior Aviation Service Inc. “Prior Aviation will continue on with charter, aircraft management and flight training under my direction, so you will still find a bit of history on the runway as TAC Air launches a new generation of aviation services at the Buffalo Airport.”
“As we grow and build the business aviation industry across the country, we remain focused on serving the local aviation community with the original small business mindset my father started the company with in 1964,” said Arnold. “As TAC Air embraces the business of Prior Aviation, it is of utmost importance to honor the values and goals the Newman family set forth while incorporating the TAC company goals and values. We are honored for the opportunity to carry on the existing legacy.”
TAC Air - BUF will operate 24/7/365, providing award-winning ground services, Jet-A and Avgas from Avfuel Corporation, de-icing, heated hangars, charter customer services and processing, and cargo handling. The FBO also features an inviting executive terminal and professional business setting with a pilots’ lounge, conference room, concierge services for local hotels or activities, and rental cars through preferred partner Hertz.
“With over 11,000 GA flights at Buffalo airport last year, we look forward to serving local and visiting customers at our newest TAC Air FBO location with the same great experience they find across our network,” stated Joe Gibney, TAC Air Chief Operating Officer.
“We are looking forward to a great partnership with the airport and community to continue the legacy established by Prior Aviation and build new opportunities for aviation in Western New York. In the coming months, we will unveil plans we have been working on with the airport authority to refurbish the existing FBO buildings and hangars to elevate the general aviation area of the airport, demonstrating the services provided exceed expectations and demand of those conducting business through Buffalo Niagara International Airport,” explained Gibney.
The acquisition of Prior Aviation Services and its nearly 60 years of business at KBUF is a strategic expansion for TAC Air as they grow their FBO network to 16 locations that stretch across the United States — from KSLC in Salt Lake City and KPVU in Provo, Utah in the Northwest, to KDAL in Dallas in the Central region, across to KTYS in Knoxville, Tennessee in the South, and up to KBDL in Hartford, Connecticut in the Northeast. Other TAC Air FBO locations include KAPA, KAMA, KFSM, KLIT, KLEX, KRDU, KOMA KSHV, KSUS and KTXK.
About TAC Air
TAC Air is an aviation ground services company providing the highest level of service available in fixed-base operations, with more than 800 associates in its network of operations spanning 16 FBO locations across the United States. TAC Air is a division of TAC - The Arnold Companies, a Texas-based aviation services and energy marketing company and one of the nation’s largest independent distributors of refined petroleum products, with sales volume exceeding 2 billion gallons annually. TAC has a reputation for simplifying the business and exceeding what others in the industry are doing in order to create sustainable growth. Ultimately, it’s the company’s associates and their passion for service that sets TAC apart.
Learn more about the passion for great service TAC Air provides pilots, aircraft owners, airlines and the government/military at www.tacair.com. For more information about TAC - The Arnold Companies, visit www.thearnoldcos.com.
Firm replacing Prior Aviation wants to make airport 'presentable gateway' to Buffalo
Prior Aviation Services Inc. changes over to TAC Air
When the Los Angeles Rams limped home after losing to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, dozens of players and staffers boarded their charter flight to California outside Prior Aviation's executive terminal at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. So did the Toronto Blue Jays as they departed their 2020 home at Sahlen Field for the American League playoffs in St. Petersburg, Fla., as did their Sunday opponents in Buffalo – the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, five commercial-sized charters accommodated hundreds of passengers Sunday through the Prior facility – an airport mainstay since 1961.
But beginning Thursday, the brand established by the late aviation pioneer Jack Prior will be replaced by TAC Air, the Dallas-based company serving as fixed base operator at 15 other airports throughout the country including Dallas, Hartford and Knoxville, Tenn. After purchasing the company from the Newman family that has owned and operated Prior for the last 20 years, TAC will now not only coordinate charter and private aviation in Buffalo, but provide fueling, de-icing and a host of other services for commercial carriers and UPS cargo, too.
"To have 11,000 general aviation departures per year here is pretty good," said Tad W Perryman, TAC vice president of marketing during an airport interview. "You look at all the sports and business activity here, and there is definite opportunity in this market."
Fixed base operators serve an important function at busy airports like Buffalo, operating the general aviation terminal on the airport's north side that includes lounges, meeting rooms, concierge services for local hotels and a Hertz rental car desk. It will also tow and store the private aircraft in its own hangars, leasing all its facilities from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (paying about $947,000 annually in rent).
The TAC Air facilities cover more than 126,000 square feet of office space in four structures housing private aircraft, charter services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and a flight training school. Most of Prior's approximately 120 employees are expected to remain on the job after the TAC transition.
Sports teams constitute a big portion of the business, but so do Las Vegas-bound gambling charters and the many private planes ferrying business people in and out of Buffalo. As a result, TAC plans major cosmetic upgrades to the current terminal and hangar facilities, which Perryman said reflects the company's commitment to presenting a first class image to influential business executives and making Buffalo a "real general aviation destination."
"This is the first impression of the city and it has to demonstrate what the city sees as important," Perryman said. "It's about cleaning up the campus and establishing an image of what Buffalo is all about, and changing and modernizing to make this a presentable gateway to the city."
But airline activity at Buffalo has decreased by about 85% because of Covid-19 effects, NFTA officials say, and private aviation is feeling the pinch too. However, Perryman said the industry is "bouncing back nicely" as many passengers feel safer aboard private aircraft than in the big commercial planes cramped alongside dozens of other passengers.
"If you have the capacity and the means to protect your employees or family like this," he said, "you find a way to make that work."
Prior Aviation President Clark C. Newman said the company started by his father will continue a presence at the airport with charter, aircraft and flight management services.
ENR Texas & Louisiana Announces 2020 Best Projects Winners
The Braniff Centre, home to the TAC Air-DAL FBO, was recently selected as a project category winner for Airport/Transit by the ENR (Engineering News Record) of Texas and Louisiana.
ENR Texas & Louisiana Announces 2020 Best Projects Winners
July 15, 2020 by Louise Poirier
ENR Texas & Louisiana is pleased to announce its 2020 Best Projects winners! We received 131 entries into this year's contest—the most of any of ENR's 10 regional contests—and our panel of judges selected just 18 Best Projects and 23 Awards of Merit across 19 categories.
The Braniff Centre Redevelopment Project
Submitted by Burns & McDonnell
Congratulations to all our winners! View full list on ENR website >
Our independent panel of jurors come from all corners of the A/E/C community, and over the last several weeks have reviewed all submitted entries and scored each one according to each of the six judging criteria. As always, judges recuse themselves in any cases of conflict of interest.
Special thanks to this year's distinguished panel of judges!
Kim Allen, Director of Operations, Construction Industry Institute at The University of Texas at Austin;
David Helveston, President, Pelican Chapter, Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.;
Meloni McDaniel, President and CEO, TEXO;
Nick Moldaner, Vice President, Palmisano;
Hannah Sargent, Architect, Gensler; and
Thomas Sofranko, Professor, LSU School of Architecture, and Associate Dean, LSU College of Art + Design.
In addition to selecting category winners, our judges have also picked out three finalists for ENR Texas & Louisiana's 2020 Project of the Year — that winner will be announced at our Best Projects event in October. We'll be previewing the finalists here leading up to the event!
Meanwhile, a separate jury is hard at work right now scoring ENR Texas & Louisiana's annual Excellence in Safety award. Those winners will be announced by the end of July, so please keep an eye out.
All winning project teams — as well as our Owner of the Year, Design Firm of the Year, Contractor of the Year, Specialty Contractor of the Year and Legacy Award winner — will be celebrated in Houston on October 23 at the JW Marriott Houston. We still plan to host this event in person, but we're keeping an eye out on local conditions and will adapt as needed. For more info on the event and to register, click here!
2020 Airport Business Project of the Year: The Braniff Centre
The modern terminal building was designed using inspiration from other mid-century buildings and décor found throughout Dallas. Read original story on AviationPros.com >
Location: TAC Air, Dallas Love Field (DAL)
Project: Braniff Centre Restoration
Cost: $100 Million Master Plan Investment
Key Participants: Blue Star Land, Lincoln Property Co., Burns & McDonnell, The Gravity Company
The Braniff Centre reconstruction was executed as a historic restoration of the original Braniff Airlines Operations and Maintenance Base. The $100 million master-plan expansion transformed an aviation icon to a modern general aviation facility over a 19-month time frame, now serving the aviation and local community in one reinvented destination at Dallas Love Field (DAL).
“TAC Air - DAL at the Braniff Centre was a long sought after project by TAC - The Arnold Companies to find a home on Dallas Love Field and have a presence in our home market. The location of the original Braniff International Airways Operations and Maintenance Base provided an ideal location on the east side of the field at Lovers Lane and Lemmon Avenue, offering a way to make the facility more than just another row of hangars lining the street,” said Joe Gibney, chief operating officer, TAC Air. “As a key location on the neighborhood street, the retail opportunities combined with the aviation impact, made the project special. Working with the Texas Historical Commission to honor the site of Braniff Headquarters and the architecture of the mid-century that helped define the city of Dallas made it more special.”
The expansion and redevelopment led by TAC Air was made possible with the commitment of the city of Dallas. As Dallas Love Field is reborn through ongoing development projects, the Braniff Centre restoration and expansion restored a portion of the airfield to the early spirit of aviation and the modern jet-setter lifestyle as defined by Braniff International Airways in the late 1950s.
“Dallas Love Field is the second largest general aviation airport in the country, which made this a prime real estate opportunity,” said Casey Park, director of investments for TAC - The Arnold Companies. “We knew the Braniff Centre was a project TAC Air wanted to bring to life. With our partners including the Dallas Cowboys, Blue Star Land a Jones Family company, Lincoln Property company and the support from Randall Reed and the Planet Lincoln auto dealership, 7701 Lemmon Avenue is once again the center of aviation on the east side of Love Field,”
The building was transformed into more than 200,000 square feet of high-quality hangar space and prime aviation support services.
Park said the specific site plan presented a unique opportunity to recreate a space with an aviation history. It sat vacant for many years and required extensive rehabilitation from its glory days to compliant building codes of the twenty first century.
“The opportunity seen by TAC Air was to provide the nation’s first mixed-use facility that combines retail - restaurant and storefront- office space, a car dealership and an FBO – all in one site,” he said.
TAC worked in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission to protect the integrity of the architecture. It maintained what was there, and because of that, Park said they wound up with something far more iconic than it would have been if they had started from the ground-up.
“Our commitment to take the historical site, clean it up and keep the past a part of the future of Love Field has made this project special for us and the city of Dallas,” he said.
The TAC Air FBO facility features a group of amenities including controlled access to private hangars and an executive terminal; convenient access to elevated catering through The Star Skyline, an exclusive event center managed by Legends Hospitality of AT&T Stadium in Arlington and Yankee Stadium in New York; on-site dry cleaning; auto detailing; local event and venue reservations; auto-to-aircraft valet and secured personal access to retail facilities.
Gibney said they brought the core team from within the TAC Air network and filled the remaining roles with local talent that know and understand the Dallas market. The teams were sent out ahead of opening to train within the TAC Air system with the other FBO locations.
“Upon opening, those same FBOs sent experts from their teams to support the Dallas team and help provide great service expected by our customers,” he said.
Keeping the original cutting edge building design of William Pereira and Charles Luckman that embodied the spirit of flight in the inverted butterfly roof architecture, The Gravity Company and Burns & McDonnell designed the restoration to meet guidelines and preservation requirements of the Texas Historic Commission to keep the building an aviation landmark of Dallas.
Tad W Perryman, vice president, marketing for TAC, said to honor the restoration of the mid-century architecture and harken back to the elegant days of aviation embodied by Braniff Airways, the modern terminal building was designed using inspiration from other mid-century buildings and décor found throughout Dallas. These include the white marble and light walnut rift sawn columns, the glass-topped marble front counter and the use of stainless accents to minimize the design and celebrate the space and location overlooking Love Field.
“In the lobby, a 1/5 scale replica of the Boeing 727-227 N457BN flown by Braniff Airways hangs above, decorating the ceiling space with the livery in mercury blue and adorned with the Dallas Cowboys name and silver helmet featuring the Blue Star,” he said.
Construction has started on a phase two of the project, which will bring a 40,000 square foot hangar and office space to the south side of the Braniff Centre leasehold in fall 2020. Creating an FBO that provides class and modern amenities for businesses and the ones who run them, while still emphasizing the pleasure side of travel, is part of the true reinvention of The Braniff Centre.
Listen & Learn More About The Project
TAC Air Chief Operating Officer Joe Gibney shares insights of the Braniff Centre reconstruction that was named one of the 2020 Airport Business Projects of the Year on a recent episode of the AviationPros Podcast.