Tracey Cheek posted an articleNAFA member, Neil Book, President and CEO of JSSI, talks to Anthony Harrington, with BAM. see more
NAFA member, Neil Book, President and CEO of Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI), talks to Anthony Harrington with Business Aviation Magazine.
Q: Your big announcement at EBACE was the acquisition of Conklin & de Decker. Can you comment on the logic that guided the deal?
NB: There is a very real need in this market for easier access to data and more transparency for aircraft operators and owners. Conklin & de Decker’s mission, as they define it themselves, is to arm operators and owners with information. Their product set is all about helping the general aviation industry to make more informed decisions around the purchase, operation and sale of aircraft, by providing objective and impartial information. They’ve been doing this for 35 years, so they bring a layer of credible data and a level of customer service that is very consistent with our own culture.
The starting point for the deal was the launch of our advisory services platform last year, and the early success that we have had with it. This acquisition will be the first of many as we grow the strength and depth of our services business. There is no doubt that Conklin & de Decker is a tremendous bolt-on acquisition for us.
It is worth emphasizing that JSSI’s growth, prior to this, has been entirely organic. This is our first strategic acquisition and we are actively looking for more.
Q: How do you see the advisory service side? Does it simply strengthen the JSSI brand and add to the service set you provide or do you see it growing into a significant revenue earner in its own right?
NB: I think it will absolutely generate significant revenue and earnings, or we wouldn't pursue it. I also believe that it only strengthens the JSSI brand if we deliver a high quality product. We strive to be the best at what we do and if we do not provide the highest quality product, it could have a negative brand impact.
On the Conklin side, we have a strong technology team, led by our newly named CIO, Jake Gerstein. I’m confident we’ll be able to relaunch Conklin’s platform with even better data, features, and a more global focus.
Q: Both the engine and airframe OEMs are going down a similar route, deploying sensor data beamed directly to operations centres for maintenance purposes. Is this competition for your platform?
NB: I don’t see OEM real-time data being competition. I’m confident we can help operators better disseminate and understand that information. We cover every single make and model of aircraft and have been doing so for the last 30 years. We are sitting on a massive amount of maintenance data. This, coupled with operating data from the 2,000 aircraft we support and Conklin’s database, will allow us to deliver a product that helps operators. Ultimately, the market will decide.
Q: There is an issue in the market at the moment with the very mixed skill sets of appraisers and valuers, some of whom are very good and others who produce very questionable figures. How do you see this playing with your platform?
NB: I can’t speak for the entire market, but we take a lot of pride in the integrity of our appraisals. We just hired our eighth ASA-certified appraiser, Rich Thompson, and believe that our technical expertise really sets us apart. This service to date has been very geographically fragmented. Many banks have to partner with a number of different appraisers around the world, and, as you say, this can have very mixed results. The beauty of working with JSSI is that we have our people in key locations around the globe and this leads to a level of consistent and high quality work that our customers appreciate.
Q: How is the business doing, generally?
NB: Business is performing great and we’re having a lot of fun. We are seeing growth in every region around the world. Flight hours are up generally across the globe, so having 2018 turn into a strong flight-hours year is a very good barometer of the health of the industry.
Q: July and August have seen a considerable spike in both rhetoric and actions around protectionism and punitive tariff increases, raising the probability of trade wars weakening global
GDP. Do you see this as a significant threat?
NB: I can’t opine on a theoretical trade war at this point and what impact that will have on our business or global GDP. I am highly confident, however, that business jets are a critical tool to the global economy and will continue to be so.
Q: How interesting is the insurance market for JSSI?
NB: We’re working with two of the largest aviation insurance companies, who have made the choice to outsource their engine claims to JSSI. You have to remember that we manage in excess of 8,000 different maintenance events per year. When an engine claim is filed, we step in and perform a detailed analysis of the event. We determine the insurance company’s responsibility and we direct the work to the facility that is in a position to deliver the best turn-around time, highest quality work and the best pricing. And, of course, we audit the invoices when they come in. Our work has driven significant cost savings for the insurer, which ultimately helps the operators.
Q: How big is this market for JSSI?
NB: We’re focused on the “tier one” insurers today and believe this can be a significant business for us.
Q: Over the last two years you have expanded JSSI’s remit to include smaller commercial airlines. How is that working out?
NB: We have been really pleased with our success in this regional airline market. Since launching the program, we’ve enrolled five regionals and have a very robust pipeline. This year is already the strongest we’ve had through nearly three quarters and we do not anticipate it slowing down.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2018 issue of Business Aviation Magazine.