MRO profile: Boca Aircraft Maintenance
Boca Aircraft Maintenance (BAM) celebrated its first anniversary in June. The FAA Part 145 repair station is also EASA certified and has Eclipse authorization for work and parts distribution in the southeast.
Todd Wilkins, president and accountable manager for Boca Aircraft Maintenance, has been working on aircraft since after high school. While studying for his A&P certificate Wilkins worked as an apprentice for Kelner Turbines, a TPE331 overhauler. When he graduated in 1994 he was hired by Wal-Mart’s flight department as an A&P. Later he moved to Bombardier Aerospace in Fort Lauderdale as a floor technician.
While at Bombardier Wilkins enrolled in ITT’s two-year electrical engineering program and within six months Bombardier moved him into the avionics shop. In 2000 he was selected to be part of a Bombardier team tasked with starting up a line base in West Palm Beach to support Flexjet.
“I left Bombardier in July 2001 to go to work for a Part 135 charter operator called Wingedfoot Services in West Palm Beach. Within two years I moved up to the director of maintenance position. It was right about then that DayJet purchased our Part 135 certificate and I was made director of quality,” Wilkins said. While at Wingedfoot Services he did 28 conformity inspections to put the company’s new Eclipse 500s on its Part 135 certificate.
Two years later he left DayJet and took a position as director of maintenance at a start-up MRO. It closed less than a year later, and he moved home to Boca Raton to open Boca Aircraft Maintenance.
BAM leases from Avitat Boca Raton space that includes a 15,000-sq-ft air-conditioned hangar for maintenance and approximately 5,000 sq ft dedicated
to parts, back shops, a quality office, shipping/receiving, administration and accounting. There is also 28,000 sq ft of hangar space available for overflow.
The company works on all Dassault Falcons but the 7X; the Eclipse 500;
Gulfstream II/III/IV; Learjet 31/45/60; and the Challenger 300/601/604. It has 25 employees, 18 of them dedicated A&P mechanics, three of whom who are also avionics technicians.
“The last couple of years have been really more about the negatives of the industry than success stories. We have all been touched by the recession with life-changing results, but in the midst of the bottom we built an aircraft repair station with a simple plan: hire the best Eclipse and Falcon technicians available, including avionics and troubleshooters, and give the customer focused attention with an invoice that is easy to understand.”
Wilkins brought in David Hintzke–a coworker from his Wingedfoot Services/ DayJet days–as director of maintenance. “He is one of the most knowledgeable technicians I know on the Eclipse, Learjet and Challenger,” Wilkins said. “He spends a majority of his time fielding maintenance questions from owner-operators, and I believe it’s this ‘personal director of maintenance’ availability that has built our business.”
Wilkins’s wife, Jamie, was involved from the beginning and is the company’s parts manager. “Her background is with FAR 135 operations so she understands the importance of expediting parts and materials,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins also hired Steve Storiale as chief inspector. Storiale helped the company obtain its Part 145 certificate and has 30 years’ experience as a chief inspector.
“It wasn’t easy to get customers in for maintenance at first because there are a lot of options in the region, but I promised those key elements that I hold as a priority. I also offered AOG service, even going out of the U.S, because I believe if you take care of a customer who is grounded on a strange airport somewhere, he’ll bring his inspections to you,” Wilkins said. “I think the competition along with the economy was the catalyst that taught us that you can never get complacent or forget to listen to the needs of the customer.”
Wilkins said the business struggled like everyone else, but the Eclipse inspections proved to be steady work. Last November the company encountered its next major milestone with the closure of Midcoast’s maintenance department in Palm Beach (PBI).
“I recruited the guys I knew from when I was based in PBI. Mike Robinson was one of the avionics techs for whom I have the utmost respect both professionally and personally. He joined the team, to the dismay of a lot of people who questioned why he would go to a small shop when he could go anywhere he wanted. With him on board as the avionics manager, we now have a major advantage,” Wilkins said.
The company also added a few more highly experienced lead technicians to focus on developing its Falcon plan. “As a result of their relationships with Falcon owners and operators, our business took off.
“Our emphasis from the beginning has been to focus on customer needs and expectations. I know first-hand how important that type of orientation is to result in a satisfied customer. We have a tagline that I like to use. It may sound corny but I think it makes a point: Plane broke? BAM. It’s fixed!”