What We’re Made Of: Rick Lockhart, SkyPaxxx Interior Repairs

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Rick Lockhart, SkyPaxxx Interior Repairs, at his regular office.

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 editor@apex.aero.

Rick Lockhart
President, SkyPaxxx Interior Repairs
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Day 0 of working from home
Date of writing: April 27, 2020

Where are you writing from?
As an essential business, we are still operating at full staff and in the shop every day so I am writing this from my office. There is a bottle of hand sanitizer and a mask on my desk with a nice lingering scent of sanitizing wipes. Other than that, it hasn’t changed.

Have you or anyone you know been directly affected by COVID-19?
We have a very good customer who has lost a couple of family members. There is so much worry and tragedy from those with loved ones who are sick, and then stress and worry from those who have lost jobs or who worry they could lose their job. We also have to look at those who are suffering in isolation. We have been very lucky in keeping our team and their families healthy and being able to enjoy some socialization with the SkyPaxxx family every day.

“Rising to seemingly impossible challenges for customers earns us their loyalty. Each challenge that has been turned into a positive helps to keep morale high.”

How are you passing time?
My sister in Tennessee has arranged a weekly family game night over video chat with as many of the extended family as possible. Last week we had 17 people on. It was a great distraction and a lot of fun.  She kept score and won, so I am sure there was some cheating.

Can you share some specific challenges your business has faced as a result of the outbreak? How did you overcome them and how can the industry learn from your experiences?
Have you ever tried moving two aircraft worth of 777 seats from Dubai to the US when there is no commercial air traffic and all the cargo flights are full? Every day there is a new challenge. We can either shrink from it or embrace it. Rising to seemingly impossible challenges for customers earns us their loyalty. Each challenge that has been turned into a positive helps to keep morale high.

Can you give an example of generosity or kindness displayed by your company or one of your colleagues during this crisis?
We have turned our sewing department into a mask making department. So far, we have donated over 1,500 reusable masks to various hospitals and assisted living facilities. We have had to purchase some of the material, but a bunch of the high school kids have been helping to gather material for us to use in the production. It is great to see the community coming together to support our healthcare heroes.

Can you describe any new working procedures that you have/will implement in light of new health and safety guidance?
Our crew is the key to providing great service to our customers, so their health and mental well-being is directly tied to our success. We have an open shift where anybody who misses time can make it up, so they don’t lose hours. Flexibility is the key. Each shift, now, starts and ends with a temperature check. Every common surface is cleaned multiple times a day, the break room headcount is limited and we added picnic tables outside to create more space, and we are all wearing masks all the time. I do expect some of this to stick around once the situation improves.

Some companies may have been inspired to create new product lines, or redesign existing product or services as a result of the pandemic. How is it driving innovation?
Our Sky-Tiles modular carpet has always had a permanent antimicrobial in the backing. With the focus on aircraft cabin cleanliness – think about everything that gets tracked into the airplane, what your bag is sitting on when you put it under the seat and then what you are bringing home – this benefit has been brought to the front of discussions. We also provide Sky-Tiles cleaning support with a high energy, dry foam, which ensures proper coverage and contact time for the detergent.

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months from now? One year?
SkyPaxxx was started during the great recession, so we were born fighting and learned a great many lessons from that experience. I believe our delayed projects will start moving again in the next six months. A year from now, I expect us to return to record generating form. We have a one of a kind product in Sky-Tiles that is designed to change the status quo. There is no better time for change than when we are all trying to understand the new normal.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.

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