It’s safe to say that nearly everything about business aviation has dramatically changed since Robert T. Stevens founded Stevens Aviation back in 1950. Everything that is, except for the Greenville, South Carolina-based company’s core belief that building strong relationships is just as important to customers as maintaining their airplanes.
“From the beginning, Mr. Stevens wanted everyone in the company to understand that ours is a very personal business, and how we talk to and interact with our customers is a key to success,” explained Christian Sasfai, President, Stevens Aerospace and Defense Systems. “That core philosophy hasn’t changed at all. If anything, it’s more important now than ever before.”
“Staying open for 70 years is a fantastic accomplishment in any industry, but it’s rarer in business aviation. We’ve seen a lot of MROs come and go over those seven decades,” added the company’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Phil Stearns. “Our strong personal relationships with our customers have been key to our longevity. They put a lot of trust in who we are and what we can do for them.”
Stearns said that testament to that trust is the fact that regardless of where or when a customer encounters a problem with their aircraft – no matter how small – their first call is to Stevens Aerospace and Defense Systems.
“If it’s 2:00 a.m., on Christmas Eve, and you have a problem with the aircraft, you’re going to call someone you have a relationship with who’s going to answer the phone,” he says. “That how our long-standing customers see us – we are not only their service provider but someone they can trust. Call someone you don’t know, and the meter starts ticking. That’s not us.”
While 0200 calls on Christmas Eve are indeed rare, Sasfai says that the company is always looking for new ways to deliver “personal service” where and when their customers need it.
“We’ve introduced new technologies and capabilities to enhance our services. For example, if we find an issue during an aircraft inspection, we use video conferencing to show the customer in real-time,” he explained. “It shortens the project time and saves the customer travel time and money.
“We also encourage customers to do the same when they have issues or questions,” Sasfai continued. “They can call their TSR (Technical Service Representative) and discuss the problem and show the video. They rely on us to give them the right go/no-go decision. That level of trust is something that we take great pride in.”
Here’s to 70 more years…
While personalized service has, and will remain, at the core of everything Stevens Aerospace and Defense does, both Sasfai and Stearns stressed the company’s steadfast commitment to add services as their customers’ needs and fleets change.
“We have long-standing capabilities like an exceptionally skilled team of metal workers that provide affordable repairs for our customers with legacy aircraft,” Stearns said. “We complement those abilities by continually adding new services as they make good business sense for our customers and us.
“For example, our facility in Macon, Georgia, handles all of our Gulfstream and Global work. We’ve only been in the Gulfstream MRO business for four years, but when we started it, we went out and recruited the best technicians in the business,” he continued. “It’s a newer business segment for us, but we already have over 250 years of combined Gulfstream experience at that facility alone. Our team is well-versed in maintaining these legacy aircraft in a practical manner with a high amount of personal touch.”
Sasfai explained that Stevens Aerospace and Defense is not, and does not try to be, all things to all operators.
“We’ve coined the phrase, ‘Technical expertise with a personal touch.’ Customers are often pleasantly surprised just how much technical expertise we have and yet are able to maintain such highly personal relationships,” he said. “But we’re honest with new and old customers alike; if we don’t feel we’re a right fit for their needs, we tell them upfront. No project is worth risking the relationship.”