Each year, during the AIN FBO Survey, we receive comments about FBO staffers who go the extra mile to help their facilities offer a great experience. We acknowledge some of those individuals who contribute to enhancing their FBOs’ service in our Above and Beyond listing. Below AIN editors Curt Epstein, Kerry Lynch, and Jerry Siebenmark provide a little more detail about some of the individuals who made the 2021 list.
Shannon Auty, Customer Service Representative, Aero-One Aviation, KDHN
Shannon Auty joined Aero-One Aviation in Dothan, Alabama, in March 2017. General manager Scott Capehart said Auty was a natural as a customer service representative (CSR), quickly becoming an expert in customer experience and service. She also quickly grasped the correlation between top-notch customer service and fuel sales, he said. “Pilots love great customer service so in return they tend to buy more fuel,” Auty said. She was promoted to CSR supervisor and given the role of social media coordinator for Aero-One Aviation and Aero-One Altitude because she was able to excel in all areas, Capehart added.
“I love that our leadership trusts me with our social media and I get to be creative,” Auty said. She added that she approaches her role with the understanding that building relationships and trust are key.
Katy Brink, Customer Service Representative, Atlantic Aviation, KMTJ
Eleven years ago and with no prior aviation experience, Katy Brink started working at Black Canyon Jet Center at Montrose Regional Airport (KMTJ) in Colorado. “Playing with airplanes all day seemed like a pretty cool job, so I accepted it,” said Brink, who was recruited for the job by a staffing agency. “I was completely new to aviation but knew that I liked airplanes and was in awe of airports and radio communication.” Since then, Brink said she has developed lasting relationships, especially with customers who come in annually for a hunting trip or to attend a film festival. “I am happy to see them,” she explained. “It’s not selling fuel or getting a paycheck. It’s about the friendships—and airplanes are cool too.” Being a good CSR means developing relationships with each customer and knowing all about them. “Sometimes I think I know my customers better than I know myself,” Brink added. “I can remember their stories and where they have been and what they have done. It’s about paying attention to the details of each customer and their needs.”
Amy Brothers, Customer Service Representative, Wilson Air, KCHA
Brothers has been with Wilson Air Center Chattanooga for more than five years, and in that time she has become an instrumental part of the location’s customer service team. She believes in always going above and beyond for her customers and enjoys meeting new people every day at work. “I treat every customer the same as I would want to be treated. If I can make our customers smile or make their day better in some way, then I am happy to do it. I hope everyone who visits our facility wants to return because they left happy and received excellent service.”
Jose Cabrera, General Manager, Signature Flight Support, KBCT
Cabrera, general manager of Signature Flight Support’s Boca Raton, Florida facility, has been in aviation for more than 17 years and has experience with airlines, a fractional ownership provider, and the FBO arena.
Cabrera thrives in the challenging and ever-changing environment that aviation provides. “My career goal is to make a significant positive impact within the aviation industry,” he said. “I strive to do so by always exhibiting the best attitude, innovation, attention to detail, and a proactive approach. I tell my customers, ‘You can count on me anywhere and at any time.’”
Alexsandra Camargo, Brand Manager, Fontainebleau Aviation, KOPF
Camargo brings more than a decade of aviation experience to her role as brand manager for Fontainebleau Aviation. Her tasks include overseeing marketing, branding, communication, and client experience for the Florida-based FBO, and she focuses on sustaining it as the gateway to Miami by touting its capabilities.
Helping customers and solving their problems invigorates her. “There is always a way to make it happen and I love finding solutions,” she told AIN. “When you visit our facility, there are high expectations on who we are and what Fontainebleau Aviation provides. I enjoy delivering upon that message.”
Kathy Cortez, Customer Service Representative, Pentastar Aviation, KPTK
Cortez has been a member of the Pentastar Aviation team for over 19 years, and her passion for aviation and desire to offer the best possible experience to the customer is what drives her. Her approach involves going above and beyond to keep the customer happy. She answers questions and resolves issues with a positive attitude, which in her opinion, is the best way to retain loyal customers. Pentastar reports that it is “incredibly grateful” to have Cortez as part of the team and looks forward to another 19 years with her.
Rob Davis, FBO Supervisor/Tech, Gateway Aviation Services, KIWA
When Rob Davis joined Gateway Aviation Services in Mesa, Arizona, in 2005, he was already seasoned in aircraft operations. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Davis served in both the U.S. and Japan. He began his commercial aviation service with DynAir before joining Swissport, where he was a fuel tech supervisor providing services for more than 13 airlines at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
He moved into business aviation in the mid-2000s and has now spent more than 15 years with Gateway Aviation Services as a line service specialist, line specialist lead, and FBO shift supervisor. To these roles, he brought not only extensive experience but a deep passion for aviation. This approach has made him a standout, earning him praise for going “Above and Beyond.”
Davis stresses that he strives to exceed the expectations of Gateway’s customers. “Everyone is a VIP regardless of what airframe they operate,” he said. “I always make the crews and passengers feel appreciated for using our services. [My goal is] to have them depart with total satisfaction, a smile, and a long-lasting impression of great service.
Danica Day, Customer Service Manager, TAC Air, KAPA
Day began her career with TAC Air as a customer service representative and after six years in that role, she was promoted to the customer service manager position at the chain’s Denver location. She believes that every day brings new challenges and experiences. “I get excited every time I have the chance to prevent a potential customer issue,” she said. “Problem--solving is a huge aspect of customer service, and I feel that I see common-sense solutions when others tend to see the more complicated solutions.””
Jenny Deitschman, Customer Service Representative, Meridian Hayward, KHWD
Jenny Deitschman, one of Meridian Hayward’s original employees, joined the team before its FBO opened in October 2016. After spending almost seven years post-high school fueling and parking aircraft at California’s Hayward Executive Airport, she took a leave to raise her family. But she remained passionate about aviation and returned to the field five years ago when she joined Meridian.
Her primary focus is on the customers, but she can be found supporting the FBO in multiple ways. “We sometimes work line service as well,” she said. “We help out where needed.” She said she looks at Meridian as being a family, adding, “I like everything about the company and my job.”
Meridian Hayward general manager Carlos Rodriguez said of Deitschman: “Jenny’s love of aviation coupled with her outgoing personality and empathetic nature are just some of the qualities that make her a great CSR. She has the ability to connect with customers on a personal level and provide each customer with a unique, positive experience.”
Johanna Echeto, Customer Service Manager, Sheltair, KORL
Echeto has been part of the Sheltair team for five years. She joined as a customer service representative at Sheltair FLL and later earned a promotion to the customer service manager position at Sheltair ORL. She helped establish the first generation of base coaches and was involved in standardizing the company’s best practices across the network. Her philosophy on exceeding customer expectations is all about having “the right mindset.”
Said Echeto: “A positive attitude is vital in allowing us to prioritize an outstanding guest experience. Going above and beyond is to listen to our guests’ wants and needs to deliver the customized experience they expect. Once the culture of going the extra mile is established, it’s crucial to develop our teams to maintain our high level of service.”
Jenna Emerizy, Customer Service Representative, McKinney Air Center, KTKI
Jenna Emerizy learned valuable lessons early in her career about supporting pilots and passengers alike, and she has applied this knowledge to her current role as a customer service representative at McKinney Air Center in McKinney, Texas.
She began her aviation career in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2014, spending three years at Freeman Jet Center. There, she handled everything from booking hotel rooms and reserving cars to catering assistance.
For Emerizy, good customer service is a matter of the Golden Rule. “Customer service boils down to treating people how you want to be treated, and if you go that little extra mile, it leaves an imprint,” she said.
Amanda Ewers, Pilot, CSI Aviation, KABQ
Amanda Ewers liked working with a local, family-run business and said, “it was the obvious choice for me” to join as a CSR in 2016. The FBO supported her dream of becoming a pilot and in 2018, she received her multi-engine commercial license and was hired as a medevac pilot, maintaining both roles for the next several years.
“I believe that being a pilot and working as a CSR helped give me a unique perspective in that I could think ahead to help pilots and passengers with service above and beyond what was expected because it was how I would like to be treated at any FBO I visited,” Ewers said. “With that in mind, I have found that the most important traits to be successful in the FBO business are to be kind and to have patience.
Jonathan Garms, General Manager, Wilson Air, KHOU
As general manager of Wilson Air’s facility at Houston Hobby Airport, Jonathan Garms is hands-on with the line technicians as well as the front desk. No matter what the task, he is there to help It’s taking the time to go the extra mile for someone that shows you care, and Garms does that every day, not only with customers but also with the employees who serve alongside him.
Holly Hopkins, Customer Service Manager, Texas Jet, KFTW
Hopkins has been a member of the Texas Jet staff since 2003 and brought industry experience with her when she joined. She has received honors in several industry surveys and believes that when it comes to pleasing customers, it’s the little things that matter. “Like just asking them how we treated them and what we can do better for them the next time; they just want to be noticed and heard,” she told AIN. “We try to do this better than anyone else and our Culture of Excellence is how we accomplish that.”
According to Texas Jet founder and president Reed Pigman, Hopkins was instrumental in blending Ritz-Carlton’s Legendary Service into Texas Jet’s service and “using it to form the basis of our Culture of Excellence.”
Tyrell Jasperson, Line Service Technician, Sweetwater Aviation, KRKS
Jasperson joined the aviation industry in 2018 as an operations specialist at airport-operated Sweetwater Aviation at Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport, following nearly two decades as an ATV and snowmobile repair technician in his family’s business. He received training as a ramp attendant, fuel man, and aviation rescue firefighter (ARFF) in his initiation to airport operations, along the way earning his ARFF, Wyoming EMR, and firefighter certifications.
He believes creating loyal customers from every interaction is the name of the game. “Customer service begins with a warm smile and fond welcome plane-side, upon arrival,” he told AIN. “Escorting our guests to the FBO entrance, breaking the ice by answering any questions, receiving any instruction I can clearly communicate, and understanding the customer’s individual needs. By providing the most professional service and friendly atmosphere I can ensure a safe and pleasurable experience while visiting the Cowboy State.”
Venus Koenig, Customer Service Manager, Sheltair, KJAX
Koenig, who joined the Sheltair team five years ago, has 20 years of experience in the service industry. Starting as a customer service representative at Sheltair OCF and later promoted to customer service manager at Sheltair JAX, she heeds the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“The culture we instill at Sheltair Jacksonville is to treat everyone like guests in our home,” Koenig said. “Like family, we take a genuine interest in every guest by taking the time to really listen. Guests can feel the sincerity exude even behind our masks.”
Kawai Lopez, Customer Service Manager, Monterey Jet Center (KMRY)
“Kawai strongly believes in good old fashion customer service and welcoming everyone into the Monterey Jet Center family,” according to the FBO’s leaders. “From appreciation events, surprise goodie bags, to throwing epic parties, she loves going the extra mile to make sure everyone has a memorable experience. She is the first one to brag about her customer service staff and loves Monterey’s annual Car Week because “we get to show the world how awesome our team is.”
Aaron Pederson, Line Service Supervisor, Premier Jet Center, KFCM
Pederson has been a member of the staff at Minneapolis-area Premier Jet Center since 2009. His current role as a line supervisor allows him to demonstrate his leadership and direction in delivering safe and reliable aviation services to the FBO’s clients, and he makes a point to know each customer and his or her personal preferences.
Always looking to problem-solve and get the job done before he leaves every day, he brings positive energy to the team and serves as a mentor to new employees. He is also known for aircraft positioning and is considered to be a hangar-stacking magician.
Carlos Robins, Line Service Supervisor, Banyan Air Service, KFXE
When Carlos Robins’s career in aviation began 10 years ago, a Banyan Air Service employee saw potential in him and encouraged him to join the team. Robins determined that Banyan was a good fit for him and joined the Fort Lauderdale, Florida FBO as a line service technician in 2014. Shortly after that, he was promoted to line service supervisor and he has continued to grow in that role, attending safety and leadership classes.
Bayan executives highlight his “incredible attention to detail” and his efforts to get to know and build relations with customers. “Carlos is an expert in anticipating customers’ needs. He takes the time to learn each person’s likes and dislikes and will go out of his way to provide assistance even when he is not at work,” Banyan executives said.
He also is a go-to person for fellow teammates, they added. “As a supervisor, what my job means to me is building those relationships with our customers and internal customers,” Robins said.
Jessica Rowden, General Manager, Cutter Aviation, KABQ
Jessica Rowden pursued a degree in secondary education at Missouri Southern State College but in the early 2000s developed an interest in aviation that has led to a 16-year career at Cutter Aviation. Rowden joined the FBO chain’s location as a guest services representative at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in January 2005. By the following summer, she had already earned a promotion to facility manager at Cutter’s Phoenix Deer Valley location and the next year she was stepping in as general manager of its Colorado Springs location. In 2014, she moved into her current position as general manager in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As she has grown as a professional and guided the New Mexico facility, she has branched into industry advocacy and charity, serving on boards and becoming involved with NBAA Schedulers and Dispatchers, Women in Aviation, Wounded Warriors, Ephraim Orphan Foundation, and High Hopes for Colorado.
“My goal has always been to work hard to build meaningful relationships with both my guests and my team, as I feel those relationships are the key to any success or failure,” Rowden said of her approach to managing the FBO. “For me, Cutter Aviation’s core values of family, friendship, honesty, trust, and respect are not just words on a wall, they are tenets that my team and I strive to provide to our guests with each interaction.”
Yulyanna Silva, Brand Ambassador Supervisor, Business Jet Center, KDAL
After holding roles in digital media and promotions, Yulyanna Silva looked to bring her skills to business aviation. And, when she interviewed for a position at Business Jet Center, “we knew she was different,” said Cat Wren, CEO of the Dallas FBO. “We often say you can teach anyone to do a job, but you cannot teach someone to care.” Silva showed those qualities, joining Business Jet Center in 2018, initially as a customer service representative and then as brand ambassador and brand ambassador supervisor.
“Since her start, Yuly has quickly learned the ropes and has excelled at multiple roles within the company,” Wren said. “Her passion for people and genuine attitude shine with our customers and her fellow coworkers. She truly understands that listening to the customer, taking action, and communicating are key to creating an experience for all who come through our doors.”
Bernie Spencer, Customer Service Representative, Sheltair, KDAB
With over 12 years of commercial aviation experience, Spencer has been part of the Sheltair Daytona Beach staff for five years as a customer service representative. She feels that going above and beyond means making sure “that the guest is happy and satisfied…and then go extra. The extra sugar coating is what we try to do to make our guests leave happier than expected and come back because they had such a sweet experience.”
Ysabella Tetley, Customer Service Manager, Henriksen Jet Center, KTME
After serving as a lead preschool teacher, Ysabella Tetley made her jump into a business aviation career in 2018 at the Henriksen Jet Center in Houston, initially as a customer service representative and now as a customer service manager. Promoted to her current role in August 2020, Tetley is viewed by her managers as an “absolute rock star” for the drive, pride, and joy she brings to her position.
“One of her strongest abilities is how she keeps things very positive, even during those tough conversations with customers and employees,” said executive director Andrew Perry. “The Henriksen Jet Center team and I are very proud of her and glad to have her as a leader in the organization.”
Tetley stresses that she enjoys each day and is thankful for the friendships she has made during her time there. “I always aim to go the ‘second mile’ when interacting with our customers and view the level of service they receive as a direct reflection of my own work ethic,” she said. “I believe this goes hand in hand with loving your job and being prideful about the company you work for.”
Pat Walter, Line Service Technician, Signature Flight Support, KMSP
Walter has been employed at Signature Flight Support for 34 years, working his way up to shift lead at the company’s Minneapolis location, and he is well respected by customers as well as his fellow employees.
When asked what he does to go above and beyond, he simply states, “It’s all about the great team here at MSP and simply treating people the way you would like to be treated.”
Sara Zarate, Customer Service Representative American Aero FTW
Sara Zarate joined the team at American Aero FTW at Texas’s Fort Worth Meacham International Airport with a background in hospitality and was hired based on her ability to build relationships and anticipate customer needs.
For Zarate, making personal connections is one of the most important facets of the job. That includes learning the names of every guest, because it makes people feel valued, acknowledged, and seen, she said.
American Aero officials said Zarate’s qualities include an upbeat personality, kindness, and a detail-oriented approach to her work.