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Trent Zwiers

From Line Services Representative to Interior Completions Assistant Manager


In March 2024, it’ll be 9 years since Assistant Manager of Interiors Trent Zwiers in Battle Creek, Michigan, was hired at Duncan Aviation to work in the Line Department. He’d worked with Line Services Rep III Mark Huisman at a previous FBO, and Mark reached out to Trent to let him know there were openings at Duncan Aviation.

When Trent was in high school, anything hands-on and mechanical appealed to him.

“I loved taking things apart and putting them back together. My dad and I did all kinds of projects together when I was growing up,” says Trent.

Trent considered Michigan State for box engineering, but he decided to study Flight Science at Western Michigan University.

“It was a pipeline to commercial aviation, and I liked learning about the business of aviation and taking classes like safety and investigation,” says Trent. “I got a job at Duncan Aviation in March 2015 and finished my degree in May, having earned my Private, Commercial, and Instrument ratings.”

Although he was fully licensed, Trent opted to not pursue a career path in flying.

“My family life was changing, and I wanted to be home more than I would have been as a pilot. I knew, until I built up seniority, I’d be gone from home and working erratic hours for at least 5 years,” says Trent. “Plus, in the short time I’d been with Duncan Aviation, I realized I could use the skills I’d learned, like problem solving, right away.

Knew Enough To Add Value

Trent was still in training when he had an epiphany.

“I remember walking back from Hangar 1, when it all clicked,” says Trent. “I suddenly understood the complexity of the hangar moves we were making, managing schedules, and thinking through the best options,” says Trent. “It just all fell into place, and I understood how that 1 move, that single-person request, was going to affect all the planes around it.”

The process involved reactive problem solving, where, Trent understood, the team had to make sure they were minimizing how many aircraft were going to have to move.

“Coming from a much smaller operation, I understood how to fuel and tow an aircraft, but here at Duncan Aviation, you have far more responsibility regarding hangar operations,” says Trent. “I was still learning my job, still feeling that overwhelming, drinking-from-the-firehose feeling, when suddenly, in that eureka moment, I felt like it was a controllable amount of information. Now that I understood, I could be useful and provide support for my team. Knowing what was going to happen, I felt value. Aha, now I can offer something to the team!”

His personal life, though, was still kind of in that firehose phase. He’d started a new job, finished his degree, and gotten engaged to Emma, the woman he was going to marry. So, when everything clicked at work, he felt a good deal calmer.

Opportunities & Moves

“I started as a Line Service Representative I, and a year later, in March 2016, I was upgraded to a Line Service Representative II,” says Trent. “After that, I applied for and was selected for the Team Lead position in Kalamazoo. I moved to 2nd Shift and had those responsibilities for 3 years.”

When Trent moved back to Battle Creek from Kalamazoo in 2019,  he was made 1st Shift Team Leader for Line Services.

“I moved from 1st Shift Team Leader to FBO Supervisor, which was a newly created position. I no longer wore a uniform, and I performed logistics in an office and provided support to our two teams in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek,” says Trent. “I worked with all 3 of our main facilities and helped implement a new fuel inventory system. Instead of writing everything out on paper, we transitioned to a web-based program, Smartsheet.”

The new system made the process far easier to understand, and it was easier to manage day-to-day.

“Instead of physically writing things in 2 places, entering them in 2 places on the computer, and then reconciling it all at the end of the day, it all went into 1 place,” says Trent. “You could see any problems in real-time. Before the Flight Desk runs a transaction, they can see if there’s a discrepancy, and we can fix it immediately.”

Career Reach

In 2022, while Trent was still in the supervisor position, he applied for the position as Assistant Manager of Interiors.

“I had no leg to stand on other than the problem-solving skills I proposed I could bring to the team,” says Trent. “I saw when I met Manager Kody Keller that we’d balance each other. He’s conceptual and social, and I’m structural and analytical. It created a good blend, and our skills aligned and personalities meshed, so I knew we could be productive.”

Trent has never liked a position more than he likes what he’s doing right now.

“I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done and am doing. I provide my strengths, and I’m challenged in areas where I need to grow and develop,” says Trent.

At the FBO, Trent had 30 team members for whom he was responsible. In the Interior Shop, there are 107 team members across 12 teams, all of whom are his direct reports.

“It took a while to settle in here in the Interior shop and feel comfortable giving feedback with value. I had just moved to a new department where I didn’t know a lot of things, and I needed to learn very quickly. I came in seeking to learn and understand, form relationships, and add value. Similar to my transitions before, I focused on what I could do to have impact. I think now my team leaders would say, yes, I add value.”

Family Time

Outside of work, Trent spends time with his family. He and Emma have been married for 7 years.

“We now have a little girl, Innes Opal is 2 years old, and she’s something else,” says Trent. “She’s such a blast! She’s funny and wicked smart. She has her mom’s memory. I can’t believe she’s reading me books that she’s memorized already.”

As a family, a passion is camping and hiking. Trent and Emma both love to travel. They bought a camper a few years ago and set to remodeling it.

“It should be ready to take out next year; I’m getting close to wrapping it up now,” says Trent. “A lot of our weekends are spent hiking and camping on Big Star Lake. It’s 2 ½ hours north of Battle Creek, and we hike on the North Country Trail.”

For their longer vacations, they like to go to Estes Park, Colorado, and hike in Rocky Mountain National Park or Utah and hike around Provo and Moab.

“One of the cool things Emma does when we go on our longer vacations is line up a local photographer to meet us and take a family picture,” says Trent. “They work with her to find out what we want, and we listen to where they think it’ll work.”

Future Goals

As far as career plans go, Trent would like to stay in the production area.

“I really like what I’m doing, I enjoy seeing the bigger picture, and I especially like using my skills to impact on our Strategic Planning and budgeting,” says Trent.

In order to take advantage of the many opportunities available at Duncan Aviation, Trent encourages team members to stay focused on what you’re doing and do the very best you can right now.

“Duncan Aviation is a place where your efforts and inputs will be noticed. If you’re doing a really good job and focusing on what you can provide, how you can help your team, what you can add, you will get the support you need as well as recognition for what you’re doing,” says Trent. “Relationships and impressions are everything! Be mindful of how you treat people; they will remember how you made them feel. It’s also important to pay attention to your personal brand. What are you promoting in the way you act? If you want to advance your career, your reputation will proceed you into the interview.”

It’s also important as far as Trent is concerned to act based on need, not expectation. Don’t do only what is expected of you. Finish the job by going beyond that and doing what is needed.

The trust and the relationships are what keeps Trent here.

“I value the level of trust that’s given to me to perform my job. I also trust that Duncan Aviation has my best interests and my family in mind, too. I feel the trust is reciprocal,” says Trent. “I also especially value the team. They’re honest, good-willed, hard-working, and fun. The group has a positive energy and mindset. We have to take our work seriously, there are definite boundaries, but we can still do that in a way that makes it fun to come to work every day.”