"IN A DYNAMIC MARKETPLACE, VALUE IS IMPERATIVE."
After two years of a very dynamic market, things appear to be stabilizing. The used aircraft market has started to move and that means more activity for the paint and interior teams at Duncan Aviation.
"Activity is way up. In just one week this March, we went from wondering how we would fill a schedule that had significant holes to a fully booked paint shop," says George Bajo, Completions Sales Rep.
Although there is more interest in paint than in interior, there is renewed interest in all aspects of aircraft refurbishment. Nearly all of the activity surrounds the purchase of used aircraft. The spike in pre-purchase evaluations coming to Duncan Aviation hangars that we saw in March continued through the spring. During a single week this spring, Duncan Aviation had 10 pre-purchase evaluations in its hangars in Lincoln and Battle Creek and more than 20 additional pre-buy proposals waiting for signatures.
"IN A DYNAMIC MARKETPLACE, VALUE IS IMPERATIVE."
"In a dynamic marketplace, value is imperative. We’ve been committed to providing long-term value to our customers since we opened our doors in 1956," says Craig Boesch, Completions Sales Rep. "That has not changed–we are still delivering exceptional completions to discerning customers, owners who have an appreciation of that next level of service and quality that we provide. Our fit and finish is remarkable."
Members of Duncan Aviation’s sales team are fielding calls from brokers and management companies who want estimates for their clients looking to upgrade their aircraft. They see a lot of owners moving up from small aircraft, such as a Citation Excel, to a large aircraft, such as a Challenger 604. This presents a great opportunity and a unique challenge for the sales and design team.
"An owner familiar with a Citation Excel who may have been through a refurbishment before will have a whole new set of decisions to make on a Challenger," says Kristen Cotugno, a Duncan Aviation Designer. "From galley options to the overall design considerations for a cabin with 125% more volume, our experience tells us that design decisions that work in a small aircraft may not work in a large one."
The Duncan Aviation Designers work with a wide variety of decision makers. Depending on the project, they may work with owners, brokers, directors of maintenance, pilots, spouses, personal interior designers, outside consultants, etc. They spend a great deal of time working with their clients to help them translate their desires into an aircraft interior and are always on hand to guide them through the implications of their decisions.
"They are the expert in the room," Craig says about Duncan Aviation Designers. "Once they learn of the owner’s design preferences, they take on their interests, assisting, advising, directing, and then following through in their absence while the project is in work."
Even though there is a new, higher level of interest, there is still some degree of window shopping.
"Even if they don’t plan to buy it all, most owners want to shop for a full interior with all of the bells and whistles," says Lori Browning, a Duncan Aviation Designer.
Many are still working within a fixed budget that is smaller than usual. Many clients start in one place, asking for design and proposals for large projects, then cut back at the very end of the planning process. Their budget is set, and airworthy items come first; whatever is left goes toward the interior. The result is a lot of partial work. The most common partial upgrades include carpet replacement, re-dying of seats and the replacement of windowline material.
"DUNCAN AVIATION IS UNIQUELY EQUIPPED TO PROVIDE A HIGH LEVEL OF ATTENTION TO DETAIL, WHICH MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN A FINISHED PRODUCT."
Ironically, partial jobs are more time-consuming than redesigning and refurbishing all of the materials in an aircraft interior, for the designer as well as the client. Despite this, a majority of Duncan Aviation clients are making "good enough for now" choices, deferring their full vision.
"We understand that many of our clients are cautious and that budgets are tight," says Patty Simon, Duncan Aviation Designer. "Partial interior jobs usually require matching to existing materials such as veneer, fabrics, leather and plating. There are typically more conversations involved with partials looking at one option versus the other and more compromise, but it is what is being asked for right now."
Anyone who has been around this industry for a while knows that partial refurbishment is a compromise, just as working with a service company new to the refurbishment game can come with its own set of challenges. Savvy customers know that paying a lower invoice price from a new company in the market costs more in time, headaches and long-term value. The adage that "you get what you pay for" definitely holds true in the aircraft refurbishment market.
"Sometimes, it seems like some of our competitors may purposely leave things vague," adds George. "If asked, it is included. If it doesn’t come up, maybe it is a change order. This is very different from how we do things."
Duncan Aviation proposals are detailed; customers know exactly what is included and what is not, and our pre-planning process ensures that every detail is covered and every question is asked. The Duncan Aviation name alone carries weight in the business aviation industry. For many, it stands for quality, integrity, customer service, solutions and support after delivery. Duncan Aviation customers feel safe that they can count on the same level of service 10, 20, even 30 years from now.
"Many are tempted to try some of the new providers in the interior service market," says George. "Time will tell if these new entries to the market will survive. They are surviving now by offering an extremely low price, but that is not a model for long-term success. They pay their people less, they train them less, they don’t invest in their facilities–they can’t. They aren’t making enough money to invest, maybe not even enough to survive."
Explaining the Duncan Aviation difference is sometimes difficult; there aren’t too many people who think about the level of detail that Duncan Aviation is uniquely equipped to provide. More than anything, the years of cumulative experience are an asset that gives Duncan Aviation interior experts the ability to avoid mistakes or "gotchas" that other, less experienced shops might not understand yet.
"Because of our experience, we often have the fortunate capability to be able to see the end result in our ‘mind’s eye’ before we begin," says Craig. "The collective detail of an entire industry, combined with our innovative design improvements, comes through in the finished product."
This solution-oriented ethic, this way of making incremental improvements so often that they become fastidious habits, is a common thread throughout the Duncan Aviation organization. The experts at Duncan Aviation have the experience and vision to see what needs to be improved and without having to ask, make it part of standard practice.