Tue, 16 June 2015
Keith Humphrey, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Jet AirParts, LLC, is a commercial aviation veteran with over 30 years of worldwide experience, including expertise in CFM56 overhaul; on-wing maintenance; aftermarket sales and component repair; strategic planning; and sales and marketing.
Humphrey, who also serves as the President and CEO of Jet AirWerks, LLC, an FAA Part 145 Repair Station and sister company to Jet AirParts.
Overview: From the military, to jet engine mechanics, to politics, and acting, Keith has been involved in just about everything imaginable. During this interview, we learn about the various jobs Keith has had, how he started his company in 2007, and what advice he has for those stepping onto the entrepreneurial path.
Background: Right out of high school, Keith enrolled in the navy and became a jet engine mechanic. (And although it wasn't planned, Keith has spent the last 40 years working in the jet engine mechanical field.) After the military, Keith took a job in Maryland for a year, and then obtained a 2 year degree so that he could work for GE. Four years into working for GE, Keith felt he had learned what he needed to learn and moved on. Overall, Keith worked at several different companies all over the map- from California, Manilla, to Europe, and Florida.
Jet AirWorks: Prior to starting Jet AirWorks, Keith was working for a French company in Miami that fixed jet engine components. It was while working there that Keith finally decided upon what niche he wanted to focus. Keith then took his family and moved to Kansas to launch his company. He started small, paid himself small, and only focused on things that would help bring in revenue. Because Keith started the company during the economy crash, he had a hard time finding lenders.
Customers: Part distributors (brokers), engine shops, and airlines.
Jet AirParts: In August 2011, Jet AirParts was organized to meet a specific demand of low-cost, high-demand aviation material. It was also a way to make money on the side for Jet AirWorks.
Managing Employees: It's a difficult aspect in any company, but especially when you start your own. Keith has created an employee handbook for his 26 employees and felt that has helped dramatically. They are in a very small town in Kansas (about 15,000 people) and so to prevent high turn over, Keith decided from the beginning to offer 100% healthcare for their employees. And starting this year, he his also implementing 401(k)'s. Keith is grateful that he's had the opportunity to provide people with jobs who haven't had work in over a year, or are even recently released from prison. It makes him happy to know that he can help others get back on their feet and feel good about their life again.
End Game: This year, they will be obtaining Chinese certification, and once they have that, it will allow their customers to sell those parts into China. Within in a few years, Keith hopes this company will expand tremendously and become much larger than where it is today. But for right now, he's just taking it one step at a time.
Advice for Entrepreneurs: Go all in. Pay yourself enough just to get by in the beginning- don't go overboard. Learn your business from the ground up, and know every aspect of your company that you can, but know that you'll learn even more as you go. Don't be afraid if you come against a brick wall to take a right turn. Do not let fear run your life, just work past it.
Connect With Keith:
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