This year, Canada-based business aviation support company ACASS celebrates its 25-year anniversary. The company launched ACASS India in 2017. We sat down with ACASS CEO Andre Khury to find out what it takes to reach this milestone in the highly competitive business aviation industry.
BizAvIndia (BAI): This year, ACASS will mark its 25th year in business. What is the significance of this milestone for you personally and for ACASS as a company?
Andre Khury (AK): Honestly, the number 25 doesn’t really have any particular significance to me. In so many ways, I feel like ACASS is just getting warmed up, so it’s not like I see it as a culmination or a conclusion of any kind.
But as an excuse to reflect on where we have been over the years and where we are now, I suppose I can appreciate it. It does make me proud to consider how long I have been able to run a commercially successful company that provides top tier service while maintaining a culture that cares for its people and its values before profit.
For ACASS as a company, the milestone validates the enduring value of what we have to offer our clients and the business aviation industry. That has given the organization confidence and helped fuel our continued growth all over the world and the expansion and evolution of our services.
BAI: What have been some of the challenges and tribulations ACASS has faced along the way?
AK: I think a business as multi-faceted as ACASS faces challenges distinct from those of more singularly specialized operations. Because we have multiple service offerings and offer them in many cultures, yet want each of them to be the best in its class, it can be challenging to give each one the attention and focus it needs. On the other hand, we have to be mindful not to devote so much attention to any one service that we lose sight of the forest for the trees.
But overcoming and learning from routine challenges is at the heart of sustaining any business for 25 years, and counting. We had to learn the hard way a few times with collections; we still struggle to make the market aware of everything we do; we constantly have to work extra hard to get the market’s attention at trade shows and in publications in the shadows of huge corporations with much deeper pocket than ours; the list could go on forever really.
BAI: Twenty-five years is a long time for a company to survive in any industry. What challenges does the business aviation industry in particular pose to achieving this longevity?
AK: Mistakes in our industry can be very expensive, and if you want to maintain a high level of integrity you have to be willing to make a lot of sacrifices and pass up a lot of opportunities. Collections, weathering wildly fluctuating market conditions, finding and retaining team members with the right experience and character are all particularly challenging in business aviation.
BAI: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to the Andre Khury who was just starting out in business aviation?
AK: I would tell him to slow down, make decisions with the longterm in mind, and never, ever waiver from his core values. It’s really hard to have that kind of perspective when you are growing a business and so much of what you face every day is uncharted territory. But in the end, there are few situations to which those three rules don’t apply.
BAI: What was the motivation for your expansion into India in 2017?
AK: Well, ACASS has actually been serving the Indian business aviation community for well over a decade. We formed ACASS India with Mumbai-based Invision Air to increase the accessibility and depth of our support offerings in India, leveraging Invision Air’s in-country presence, experience, reputation, and capabilities. It has worked out extremely well and we look forward to greater things to come as the Indian government continues to take the necessary steps to open up and facilitate the business aviation market in India.
BAI: Your slogan is Own Your Journey®; how has ACASS owned its journey over the course of the last 25 years?
AK: I’m glad you asked that because that slogan really is as much about how we do business as it is what we do for our clients.
When we started out, it was difficult to get attention or gain trust in mature markets; some of the established players had been around for decades. So instead of trying to hack our way through the competitive jungle in those mature markets, we blazed our own trail through business aviation’s emerging markets, like India, Russia and Nigeria.
In many ways, it was the best decision we ever made because it led us to operate and grow in some of the most challenging conditions in business aviation. Today, we are able to use our years of experience in those markets to not only continue owning our journey but to support our clients, partners, and industry friends in ways that few others are equipped to do.
That’s just one example but the thinking that drove it is the thinking that drives most of what we do. It’s so tempting and so much less risky to do things the way everyone else is doing them, but if you do, you are essentially ceding your journey to someone else. That’s not ACASS and that is not what our clients expect from us.
ACASS is a worldwide provider of highly customized support services for business aviation. For 25 years, ACASS has been empowering leaders and visionaries to own their journeys with world-class expertise and best-in-class services, including sales & acquisition, flight crew staffing, aircraft management, and entry into service. ACASS is headquartered in Canada and maintains regional presence in Africa, Asia, Europe, India, and the Middle-East.