What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
President and CEO, Latitude Aero
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
Day 0 of working from home (for me)
Day of writing: April 3
Are you in lockdown right now?
I have been coming into the office daily. Office staff have been working remotely for two weeks now, and will remain doing so for the near future until we receive word from the CDC that the virus is post peak. I anticipate the office staff returning in late April. With regards to the production staff, while we are deemed essential and have work in the queue, I have instructed them to stay at home, with full pay and benefits, for at least two weeks to observe the state and local quarantine laws. This allows them time to take care of their personal and family needs without worrying about working or income.
How are you trying to maintain “business as usual” or communicating with your team?
We have been using UberConference to maintain our meetings as normally as possible. Considering we had three conferences scheduled for this time period, we are having to work around the quarantine with lots of phone calls and virtual interviews.
Have you or anyone you know been directly affected by COVID-19?
Unfortunately, yes. This industry allows you to develop international contacts, and sadly four people in my aviation Rolodex have been stricken as well as one friend from university. While a few of those were hospitalized all have thankfully recovered.
What news outlets are you following?
Fox News, BBC, and local television affiliates.
How are you passing time?
I think we can all agree that Tiger King hit at the perfect moment.
“Prior to the coronavirus, cleaning and sanitization of aircraft was not highly regarded by the airlines. Now it is a leading item on everyone’s agenda.”
Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
We were really looking forward to 2020 as it was on track to yet-again double our growth. The coronavirus, combined with trickle-down effects of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding, have tempered our outlook. We are still expanding rapidly in the Everett, Washington, region, but our first international location, slated to open in Q3 this year, is now officially TBD for 2020 or potentially Q1 2021.
Can you share some specific challenges your business has faced as a result of the outbreak?
Our biggest loss has been the cancellation of our trade shows. Unfortunately, the cancellation of AIX has really put a damper on not only the introduction of new offerings and services, but also on the networking that is so vital in the aerospace industry. Technology has been our friend in all this, we have been able to reschedule some of our sales meetings and interviews over video chat and phone calls. We’re doing our best to combat the loss that we know everyone is feeling.
What’s one thing you would do to better prepare your business to weather a similar storm in the future?
We are examining our current par levels for critical inventory items such as masks, gloves, and isopropyl alcohol.
How can we, as an industry, work together and rebound from this unprecedented crisis?
Every day is a new adventure. We’re all in this together. We understand that our airline partners need the sanitization work done while airplanes are parked. It’s easy for us to do, so we’re offering deferred payment. I fully believe the airline industry will come back stronger than ever, but I feel it will take three to five years to fully recover.
What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
Prior to the coronavirus, cleaning and sanitization of aircraft was not highly regarded by the airlines. Now it is a leading item on everyone’s agenda.