Fast 5: Operating A Family Owned MRO During COVID-19

Jarid and Jerry King
Credit: King Aerospace

King Aerospace, an MRO for military/government and VVIP/corporate aircraft, was founded in 1992 by Jerry King. His son Jarid, who now serves as president, grew up with the company and talks about being the second generation to lead this family owned company.

How’s business in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Business is definitely impacted by COVID-19 and we’re having to adapt how we operate here at the Addison (Texas) home office. Everybody, minus two people, is working from home. Finding ways to continue collaborating and working as a team is something we’ve done a good job with. At our other locations, on the military side, we’re following what our customers are doing, as well as their guidance and directives. On the VVIP/corporate aviation side, we’re following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. As far as the business of aircraft coming and going, we’re seeing a steady flow of VVIP and corporate projects—some of which are asking if they can be input earlier to utilize the downtime. For instance, we moved a BBJ project from June to March. We’ve also had to expedite some projects because the aircraft was scheduled to do a humanitarian flight, so we figured out a way to expedite the C check.

King Aerospace’s business is split between government and VVIP/corporate aviation work. What’s the split, and how important is this diversified mix?

It’s huge for King Aerospace, and has been since its start. We don’t do airliner work. The split is 70% government and 30% VVIP/corporate.

How’s King Aerospace’s liquidity? Is the business applying for any of the financial assistance available from the government—whether a small business loan or the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

We’ve been doing okay as far as liquidity goes. As a private business, we don’t like to disclose the details, but we did apply to the PPP. We figured we would try to get it just in case. It’s an opportunity for us to ensure that if something comes up we can continue to employ our workforce. One interesting thing about King Aerospace is that we run a restaurant, Jake’s Joint, at our Ardmore (Oklahoma) facility. The people at the restaurant haven’t been able to work for about a month but we kept our employees on staff, doing things such as cleaning projects and offering a grocery program for the staff so they don’t have to go to a grocery store, to minimize their exposure. It’s been a great opportunity to demonstrate how we support our team.

Are you planning to make any changes or add any new capabilities to the business?

We are looking at different capabilities, such as sanitizing and cleaning aircraft for our customers. But everything seems to be working pretty well now. We will take on work and attempt to do things we know we can do well, but we don’t risk doing something that is too far out from our core.

When I met your dad a few months ago, he stressed how different, and important, King Aerospace’s culture is for the business. What makes it unique?

We’re a smaller organization with bout 250 people, including contractors. It’s knowing everybody’s name. It’s a family environment. On April 15, we sent 196 gift baskets to our direct employees with a note saying, while you are quarantining and social distancing, here are some snacks. We look forward to sharing a meal with you in the near future. We don’t do that for publicity—but because we’re thinking about the team members and what they’re going through.

Lee Ann Shay

As executive editor of MRO and business aviation, Lee Ann Shay directs Aviation Week's coverage of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), including Inside MRO, and business aviation, including BCA.