Sometimes being an outsider can prove beneficial. You get to look at something with a fresh perspective and discriminate between the positives and negatives as you learn the details.

Having just read Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath, which is about how advantages can be disadvantages—and vice versa—it’s interesting to look at the MRO industry from that perspective.

Look at what Vijay Arumbakkam is doing with AeroGulf, a helicopter operator in the Middle East that purchased Pratt & Whitney’s CFM56 engine MRO shop in Norway (page MRO38).

He reminded me in some ways of a software executive in the book who grew up playing cricket, never played basketball, but ended up coaching a girls’ basketball team that made it into the state championship playoffs. How? He questioned standard practices as he learned the game and figured out better plays for his team.

Arumbakkam, Aero Gulf Group’s chairman who has 23 years of investment experience across Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia, wants to “bring a different story to the market” by leveraging best practices from industries such as banking and hospitality.

Beyond leaders, sometimes smaller companies can be viewed as the underdogs in this industry. But look at MROs such as Jet Aviation Specialists, an independent turbine engine component repair specialist in Miami that had its best performance year ever in 2013. It prides itself on exceptional customer service as a key to its success, and also has “fun” and “employee development” as two of the eight core company values. Customer focus and healthy growth are the first two, but “fun” almost sounds like a value that should be at a Silicon Valley startup. 

Should more aviation aftermarket companies consider the joy of workplace? I’m not saying compromise safety, but rather, think of the positive human factors that could emerge—and deliver job satisfaction and revenue, too.

Locatory.com, part of the Avia Solutions Group in Lithuania, is not an outsider looking in, but it is a young company that looked at parts procurement in a new way. Noticing that e-mail was the most common interface in parts searches, the company developed an artificial intelligence network that examines e-mails to speed up parts searches (page MRO46). This is another example of a small company taking a fresh look at the industry, in this case parts procurement, to figure out how to make the process easier.

Companies with a solid business and engaged leadership are two attributes that Moelis Capital seeks when looking for investments, according to partner Jim Johnston. He is scheduled to speak at Aviation Week’s MRO Americas Conference, and he talked to me about M&A activity in the MRO market (page MRO8).

The acquisition appetite is still strong in this fragmented MRO market, he says, so expect 2014—and even 2015—to remain robust.  

Given this backdrop, see how your company is serving its customers. If you were looking at it for the first time, what would you think? Would Malcolm Gladwell see lots of advantages or hidden assets that you don’t?

I hope to see you at MRO Americas! Watch our live coverage on www.aviationweek.com. 

 

—Lee Ann Tegtmeier

Chief Editor MRO