Edwards Jet Center

No traveler wants to have a bad in-flight experience. Instead, they want to feel safe with a crew that is ready to meet their needs.

Robb Bergeson says Edward Jet Center’s understanding of this need has kept it successful over the last 63 years. “We are very fortunate to have a great core group of employees,” the general manager says. “[They] really understand that our business is based on safety and service.”

Based in Billings, Mont., Edwards Jet Center is a full-service fixed-base operator (FBO) located at Billings Logan International Airport. The company was originally founded as Lynch Flying Service in 1948. In 2001, Cliff Edwards purchased the company from the Lynch family, and gave it his namesake. Today, “We currently have nine airplanes on our Part 135 (aircraft charter) Certificate,” Bergeson says, adding that Edwards Jet Center employs 90 full-time employees.

In addition to offering private flights, “We manage three King Air B200s that serve as Air Ambulance aircraft for the two local hospitals here in town,” he says. Edwards Jet Center completes eight to 10 flights daily and its largest aircraft seats eight people.

Bergeson joined Edwards Jet Center in 2001 when the airport changed ownership. “I came from a banking and financial background,” he says, noting that the transition has been a challenging one.

“I am, quite frankly, still learning [this industry],” he admits, adding that he began at Edwards Jet Center in sales and marketing. “It really took some time to learn and understand ... that segment of our business.”

Bergeson says his background in finance has influenced his role as general manager. Instead of micromanaging, Bergeson strives to act as an extension of his employees. “I work hard to try and get the company in a position that allows these folks [to succeed],” he says.

The Edwards family shares this philosophy, which gives the workers autonomy. “We really try to empower our employees to allow them to make some decisions so not every issue that comes up [has to be reviewed],” he says.

In addition, Edwards Jet Center has a family atmosphere, where people care about one another. If an employee takes ill at the firm, “employees step up and help out,” he says.

This has nurtured loyalty from its staff, many of which have stayed with the company for several decades. This includes Lead Piston Technician Gene Allard, who has 41 years with Edwards Jet Center, and Parts Manager Kelly Michaelis, who celebrated his 40th year in October.

“I think they are in those positions because of their quality [work],” Bergeson says. “Their philosophy, their hard work and dedication drive results.”

Opportunities for Growth

In 2008, Edwards Jet Center’s business was negatively affected by the economy. “People are still a bit reluctant to get back to the habits that they had in 2006 and 2007,” Bergeson says.

Edwards Jet Center, however, is beginning to see improvement in the market. “I do get the impression that things are loosening up a bit,” Bergeson reports. “We’re seeing more jet activity throughout the nation. We are also not trending backwards, as was the case between in 2008 and 2010.”

Business is increasing, but at a slow rate, he says. “You can tell that folks are [still] being very conservative about their habits,” he says.

In spite of the slow growth, Bergeson sees a solid future for Edwards Jet Center with its location in Billings. The city “is uniquely placed right now in a position that is kind of in the center of the oil and gas growth that is taking place in the United States,” he says.

“We believe it is important to take advantage of those opportunities that exist here in Billings and try to grow in a manner [where] we don’t sacrifice those core values of safety and service,” he says. “Beyond that, I really believe that there are opportunities for us outside of the Billings area that exist right now, and will continue to exist in the future.” •mt

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