Build It and They Will Come

November 10, 2020

By Jarid King
King Aerospace president

I owe a great deal to my father, Jerry, who founded King Aerospace when I was a tot. One thing I increasingly understand is the value of our King Kulture™. Dad’s a fanatic about it and always has been. I’m one now, too.

I could give you many reasons why, but the most recent includes our ability to attract the industry’s best. We recently added some very impressive individuals to our team. If you’re in aviation, these are names you know: Jeff BartowRon SoretScott Parkinson and Boyd Hunsaker. I wish I could say they’re here because of me. They’re here because of our culture.

Doing Unto Others

Early in his career, my dad learned about servant leadership through the example Southwest Airlines Founder Herb Kelleher and President Colleen Barrett set. He saw firsthand how to apply the Golden Rule to not just personal relationships, but to business. From this understanding came our cornerstone principles. They are not lofty goals we print out and hang on the wall. They serve as our foundation. Here they are:

  • Mutual respect
  • Honesty and trust
  • Nonpolitical environment
  • Team oriented
  • Demonstrated performance
  • Proactive, problem-solving attitude
  • Quality in everything, no excuses
  • Earn a fair profit

Of course, none of this is proprietary to King Aerospace. The fact that we live these principles creates the culture that sets us apart. Here’s a perfect case in point. Recently, we successfully took over an existing U.S. Army program at 12 different locations – in only 30 days. We decided Zoom could help with our familiarization and expectation events, but it just wasn’t going be enough on its own. Pandemic be damned, we needed to personally show up. So our management team did just that. We traveled to all seven of the U.S.-based locations.

It became a mission of hope. Looking our new team members in the eye. Seeing their stress and communicating that things will get better. We also asked questions. What did they need? What could we do to help? We broke bread together, too. We heard many comments along these lines: “You’re the first person from a home office to come see me in all my years as a defense contractor.”

Then we also visited our teams at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, TX, and Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM. Their vital work includes support for the Army’s Special Electronic Mission Aircraft (SEMA) program and the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s fleet of Boeing 737-400 and DC-9 passenger/cargo aircraft. Building culture isn’t just about bringing new people into the fold. It’s keeping close to your people, even seasoned vets. We all need to show and feel the love.

Creating Excellence Throughout Our Organization

Culture isn’t a once-and-done thing. It takes constant care and tending. Seasoned King Aerospace veterans along with our new team members are embarking on a journey of further discovery. Bestselling author and consultant James Hunter is working with us on how to be more intentional, form the right habits and lead by serving. From time to time, I’ll report back on what we learn. And I’ll keep it plain speak. Like Albert Einstein famously said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough.”