HOW CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS CAN FUEL BUSINESS SUCCESS

A chance call to an old Gulf Aviation contact has helped one of the UK’s most dynamic and fastest growing fixed based operators (FBOs) achieve growth its Managing Director “could only dream of” just two short years ago.

In early 2015 Global Trek Aviation, a full service FBO now based in Belfast International Airport, was a vision in the mind of self-confessed “aviation aficionado” David McColm.

Despite 16-years’ experience in the aviation industry under his belt and a long list of contacts, David and his former colleagues at Landmark Aviation in Prestwick Airport in Scotland were left exploring new opportunities after the Scottish government nationalised the site.

“It was a tough time for us all back then,” said David. “But out of adversity often comes opportunity and I set about devising a plan for a new FBO, one that offered world-class safety, efficiency and customer service; one that could challenge the market, and one that we knew we could make work. It was a risk but we had the hunger to succeed.”

Motivated by his passion and inspired by his vision, David and his team set about getting everything in place for the new FBO. “We found the perfect site at Belfast International Airport, who took a chance on us as their fifth airport handling agent,” he added. “Then we worked our contacts books. We got the right people and structures in place. We got our operational and safety processes lined up and we sought out to find the right partners to help with everything we needed.”

Finding the right partners

It was early days, when David and his team were looking for a professional and reliable fuel supplier. As David says: “One mistake, one missed fuel stop, one late arrival of a fuel truck…they’re all one too many. Early on, demand was taking off amazingly well, so we realised quickly, we needed to have great confidence in our fuel supplier. We needed someone that matched our commitment to world class safety, efficiency and customer service. And we needed guaranteed service levels. It was then that I made the call to Alex Murphy at Gulf Aviation as I knew he could help us.”

David made the call to Alex on a Monday, talked through operations with Alex’s colleague David Dykes, and signed a new supplier contract on the Thursday. A brand new on-site fuel truck arrived on site by Friday that week. “It was incredible,” added David. “Alex kick started the partnership and David Dykes had everything I needed on hand for us to gets things done quickly and efficiently. The operations were incredibly simple, so I signed the contract straight away.”

Strengthening our relationship

Since then, Gulf Aviation has established an incredibly close relationship with David and his now 11-strong team. And not just on the fuel supply side. Through the collaboration, the Gulf Aviation team are helping Global Trek achieve some of the world’s toughest air fuelling safety standards.

“Safety is our priority, pure and simple. And I don’t say that as a footnote,” added David.

“Sam Crooks at Gulf Aviation has been an incredible support partner to the Global Trek General Manager, Gordon Bingham and the team who are achieving some class-leading safety standards. And we’re proud to wear branded protective equipment, including Gulf Aviation bump caps. It sounds like a small thing but we’re delighted that Gulf Aviation is our partner and we’re prepared to showcase that to everyone that arrives with us. Even our dedicated Jet A1 fuel trucks are joint branded.”

Class leading support as standard

Gulf Aviation also supports Global Trek with class-leading technical support, with Sam and the team available “24/7, day or night to help us” added David. Only recently, David and the team had a slight issue with one of their fuel trucks where the Gulf team arranged for someone to respond and the fix the problem within an hour and a half. “They deliver service quality that consistently exceeds our expectations,” said David. “Gulf Aviation treat us like a VIP, and that’s a common ethos we share with any and every customer that arrives with us too.”

Fuelling growth together

Working with Gulf Aviation, Global Trek’s growth has accelerated quicker than David and the team ever imagined back in early 2015. In year one, David and his team serviced 4,040 tonnes of aircraft. In year two that jumped to more than 13,500 tonnes. And, in the first quarter of 2017, they’ve already exceeded some 7,000 tonnes.

“Our growth has been unbelievable and testament to our service levels and relationships with clients, but it is also posing some very exciting supply challenges for us and for Gulf Aviation!” added David. “But we’re both rising to them and we’re focused on continuing to grow in the right way – serving more aircraft customers, but retaining our commitment to world class safety and customer care. And having Gulf Aviation on board with us is making the difference, I genuinely believe that.”

Although Global Trek built a brand-new facility just two years ago at Belfast International Airport, David and the Global Trek team are now planning for a further phase of growth, with a further £1.5million investment plan in the offering over the next three years, including doubling their current facility and increasing their operation well into the future.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time for all of us at Global Trek”, David concluded. “When I think back, if Alex and the team hadn’t sent us that first fuel truck two years ago, I don’t think we would be where we are right now. We’re delighted to partner with Gulf Aviation on and with them on-board, we’re really optimistic about the future of Global Trek.”