In the seven years Technical Manager (Director of Maintenance) Klaus Rasmussen has worked for Denmark-based Air Alsie, he's traveled to Duncan Aviation in Battle Creek, Michigan, many times. In late winter 2015, Klaus spent a cold, snowy week in Battle Creek to take delivery of one of his Falcon 2000s.
Of the 20 aircraft Air Alsie manages, 15 of them are Falcons. Although Air Alsie is a factory authorized Dassault Line Center and performs smaller inspections, minor repairs and warranty claims, Klaus says he still sends the Falcons he manages to Battle Creek for major structural repairs and modifications and for C inspections because Duncan Aviation is a Dassault authorized heavy service center.
In 2011, Klaus attended the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, and while there he met Duncan Aviation's European Regional Manager Arjen Groeneveld. After discussing his aircraft and company with Arjen, Klaus remembers wondering how Duncan Aviation's prices compared to the European service centers with whom Air Alsie had previously done business.
Arjen sent quotes for three C checks, some avionics installations and minor modifications. Klaus was impressed with the prices in the quotes, and after taking those first Falcons to Battle Creek in 2011, he was also pleased with the workmanship.
"On that first trip to Battle Creek in 2011, we were checking out the quality. We've been to other facilities for inspections and interior work. In the end, our decision was based on the fact that we'll get good quality at better prices at Duncan Aviation than at the other facilities," says Klaus.
Another reason Klaus values Duncan Aviation is because of the transparent approval system. Duncan Aviation's online project tracking system, myDuncan, lets him follow the check almost in real-time, and, when the work has been completed, all of the paperwork is finalized immediately.
"I appreciate it that we don't have to wait. We get all of the paperwork, invoices and certification immediately," says Klaus. "We check the invoice, and the prices are always pretty close to the figures that we had budgeted before going in. That's extremely important to us because we don't own the aircraft–we manage it–so all of the costs are passed along to our customers."
Since that first trip, Klaus has been back to Battle Creek numerous times, and he's built close relationships with Senior Airframe Sales Representative Alan Monk and Project Manager Shawn Busby.
"The personal relationships are important because it's so easy to get in touch with the right people when there are issues. And, let's face it, there are always going to be issues," says Klaus. "It's really important to me to know Arjen, Alan and Shawn so well I can reach any of them at any time. I don't want to have to go through a layer of people who don't know me or care about me or my aircraft. I want to go to them directly, and I can and do, and they go about solving the issues."
Often work relationships develop into close personal friendships, and Alan considers Klaus a friend as well as a customer.
"We both have families, and Klaus and I often talk about our kids. It's interesting because parents seem to face similar issues no matter what part of the world they call home," says Alan.
Arjen still considers Klaus his own personal friend and customer, but admits he's also happy that Klaus has developed relationships with Alan and Shawn.
"Although we're still close personally, I've had to let go of some aspects of my business relationship with Klaus as he has worked more closely with Alan and Shawn. In addition to our business relationship, the real fun is when we stop talking about business and talk about our families. We have a comfort level between us," says Arjen. "Another thing I appreciate about Klaus is if he says he's going to close a deal, he's going to close a deal. Even if it's six weeks later, after his summer vacation and my summer vacation, Klaus will sign. His word is good."
Alan, too, appreciates Klaus' honesty and candor.
"He's a real pleasure to work with because I don't have to try to guess what he's thinking. He's always very honest with us," says Alan. "He's also completely at ease in the hangars because he and the teams know each other so well."
Shawn echoes Alan's assessment of Klaus' easy rapport with all of the teams in the hangars.
"Not only is Klaus at ease in the hangars, but the teams know him and enjoy having him around. Everyone has worked hard to build and maintain that level of trust," says Shawn. "Personally, I consider Klaus as much of a friend as I do a customer. I enjoy hearing about his daughters, what they're doing, and their horseback riding adventures."