Rodger Renaud, President / COO, West Star Aviation
How long have you been at your current organization?
I started at West Star in April of 2012.
What are your responsibilities within your organization?
President and COO – mostly business development, operations and strategy. I have a hand in everything – an overarching vison for everything to come together. There is always a master plan in mind and it takes a lot of coordination with the executive team to pull it off.
Describe a typical day or week in your role.
I start every day by walking the floor. I ask questions, check in on people, address concerns, or just stop by and ask, “How is your day?” What I learn from that every day is a great indicator of how things are going, and I really enjoy the hangar camaraderie.
I’m on email all day long. It’s time consuming, but I believe being responsive is key to not only being effective, but also to buidling genuine and valuable communication. It’s the same with phone calls from customers where it’s anything from sharing intel, reviewing customer feedback on projects, or just staying in touch.
There are always daily production meetings where I get updates on operations and provide any needed support. I speak on a daily basis to our teams across all facilities to coordinate schedules and manpower and to look at the health of the business and attack any areas where we need support. There is a finance review once a week to make sure we stay on target with labor utililization, overtime, and quality metrics – all to help guide the business and determine customer satisfaction.
Most weeks include travel of some sort: customer visits, overseeing our facilities and new initiatves, attending employee events, or even negotiating hangars leases. Everyweek is different. I’m feeling my way to where I am needed or to customers who need attention. I’m focused on either hunting for business or creating opportunity.
But I’m also focused on what I guess you could call customer relations. Entertainment, hunting, fishing – anything to enhance the social aspect and keep that connection with our customers. I want them to know we have an open door policy and to be comfortable approaching me with anything.
What do you love most about your job?
Definitely working with the people – employees and customers. Seeing people happy. Most people love what they do here, and that is what I enjoy seeing.
Why did working in the Business Aviation industry interest you, and how did you get started?
Totally forced. When I was 21 years old I received a call from Rockwell International, Sabreliner Division about my application. I told them I did not put my application in with them. Turns out my dad, who worked there at the time, put it in for me! Once you are in aviation, it is a wonderful industry full of opportunity that grabs you and pulls you along for the ride.
Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?
Bob Rasberry (Chairman of the Board, West Star Aviation). He taught me that no matter what – you do what is right for the customer and this has empowered me to do the right thing every time. This business can be tough when there is so much money involved. The good ones will show you the right way to do it. I also watched my friends to learn the people piece and develop a street-smart approach. Customers and collegues in the industry are always willing to share knowledge – it’s a currency in aviation and we all learn from each other.
And my dad. He was a total joker and a genuine people person. He taught me how to build relationships, which is key in this business.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Optimistic, persistent, approachable.
What one item would you never travel without on a long haul flight?
Laptop. A great way to catch up on emails that shoot out when you land. And then I binge watch movies on the plane because I can’t stay that still at home long enough.
Finally, what is your hidden talent or hobby?
I enjoy hunting. It allows me to focus on something entirely different from a normal work day. It is the thrill of the chase that I enjoy! For large game it becomes very strategic initially; preparing food plots, detecting movement patterns, and preparing for different types of weather. Once you have all of it figured out, then it becomes more tactical. In the end, if you score it is very gratifying.
West Star Aviation specializes in the repair and maintenance of airframes, engines and APUs, avionics installations and repair, major modifications, interior refurbishment, exterior paint, surplus avionics sales, accessory services and parts. As an industry leader in MRO technical experience and expertise, we provide world-class customer service at our primary facilities in East Alton, IL; Grand Junction, CO; Chattanooga, TN; and Perryville, MO, West Star Aviation also maintains satellite facilities at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in Aspen, CO; Chicago Executive Airport in Chicago, IL; Centennial Airport in Denver, CO; Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport in Houston, TX; Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, MN and Scottsdale Airport in Scottsdale, AZ. For more information visit www.weststaraviation.com or call 800-922-2421.
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