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Key Idea: Give Employees Respect

Every strong small company builds a family atmosphere for employees. 

Key Question:


Treat employees with respect, integrity and dignity.

The first person we see is Reed himself. He wears a coat and tie to work. He walks across the property with his head held high and with a perfectly straight back. It's almost as if you can hear his father telling him to stand up straight. I believe Reed is telegraphing that he is proud to be at Texas Jet and I know that everything starts at the top. No matter how hard we try the, "Do as I say not as I do" technique, it doesn't work. If you want employees to be proud you have to be. If you want employees to be well-groomed, you have to be. Intuitively, employees look and act like you.

Some of you may be reading this and saying, "I wish my employees would look and act like me!" Believe me, if they want a career in your company, they are trying their very best. Some employees need more coaching than others but with the right attitude, every person who works for you can at least look like you. And I am talking about your style. They don't have your personality and never will but they can dress like you and talk like you because you can give them the script. They must know the mission of the company. They must know the way you would answer most frequently asked questions from customers/suppliers/vendors/prospects.

After Reed, the next person we see in the story is a young man who is literally bringing the fuel to the plane. He is beautifully groomed. He has a short hair cut and a clean, crisp uniform. Later we meet the women who run the front desk and who take the inbound phone calls from pilots who are planning to stop for fuel at Texas Jet. These women also are groomed and most of all, warm. They smile quickly and I observed them having fun taking care of customers.

Q: Why do you think Reed seems to have such a great team of employees?

A: He has respect for other people and he has strict rules for operating his company. We know he is loyal because he employs a person who worked for his father fifty years ago!

What are Reed's rules for hiring?

A: He wants six months of experience and a completed application before he interviews a potential new hire. He sends the person for drug testing, and does a background check looking for any criminal records or bad debt. This process eliminates half of the applicants and costs Reed money but it is worth it.

Some might think they don't have time to put in and stick to a hiring process but actually, strong, long-lived companies have this discipline in place. Reed is just one good example of an owner who is building a business he is proud to be part of himself.

Think about it

What are you doing to show your employees that you value and respect them? What more can you do?

Clip from: Texas Jet

Fort Worth, Texas: There are no lines. No crowds. No delays. Just red carpet treatment all the way. And, it is not just for the wealthy anymore. Here at Meacham Field and in 5000 other small airports around the USA, small business owners service, sell, own, and use private jets. This is the other airport in town.

This is the story of Texas Jet which is FBO, Fixed-Base Operation; they provide all the ground-based services required by aircraft owners and operators. The term, FBO, originated back after World War I to describe the first aviation businesses that developed a permanent base of operations to deliver services at airports. That name stuck. Here we open the door of private jets, charters, fractionals, and empty legs. With the help of the Internet bookings, you could easily be taking a little jet rather than drive your car.

Founder Reed Pigman says the pilots are his core customer base;  and, for many years now, these pilots voted Texas Jet to be one of the Top Ten Independent FBO's in the United States. So, out of 5,000 choices, pilots say Reed and his team are among the best. There's more. As a distributor for Phillips 66 Jet Fuel, Reed also takes the lead. Texas Jet has been recognized by Phillips 66 as one of a hand-full of distinguished partners among some 600 distributors. 

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Texas Jet

Reed Pigman, President

200 Texas Way
Fort Worth, TX 76106

Visit our web site:

Office: 8007764547

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1978

Give Employees Respect

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Meacham Field is an ecosystem of small businesses. We visited the 60-year-old flight school, American Flyers. And in its 13,500-square-foot hangar, Jet Works does everything from heavy maintenance on turbine engines and air frames to complete avionics installation packages. Like Reed, each company does only what it does best. How do you keep the folks that interact face to face with the customers excited about what they're doing and concerned about that customer? Because I think that's hard. You must have some secrets.

REED: It is hard. I think that the most important thing that we do is let them feel that what they're doing is important. (Voiceover) They're dealing with airplanes that cost upwards of $30 million and $40 million. And they're able to take care of those airplanes, to get them fueled, to tow them, to, you know, put the catering on them. And that is very rewarding for these folks.

HATTIE: What is the new employee process?

REED: Well, we require, first of all, that anybody that fills out an application to be a line service technician has had six months' experience towing and fueling aircraft; a lot of it ex-military, which is real good experience. We would prefer general aviation experience, but a lot of times we have to get military. Then we send them for a drug test. We have a drug program. We do background checks, criminal checks, honesty tests and things like that to see if they're going to fit in. And, probably, we weed out at least half of the job applicants. Job applicants are hard to find now. It's very difficult to find anybody to come in and fill out an application. And of those, half of them we wash out, at least, in the interview process, application process. And then, when they come to work, we put them through some pretty rigorous training.

MILDRED WHITED: How far out are you?

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Mildred Whited has been with Reed from the beginning.

MILDRED: Thank you. And it's service. Everyone has fuel, but some of them don't have the service we have. In fact, none of them do.

HATTIE: Why do you think MILDRED's been with you from the beginning?

REED: I think MILDRED has a love of this business. She actually worked for my father when he had his company here at Meacham back in the late '50s. She's been with me from the start. She's great at dealing with people. She's taught me a lot. She's a very good judge of character. She can say, `Well, that person, I don't know. I'm not sure about that person.' Or, `Oh, there's nothing wrong with him.' And, sure enough, couple weeks later, something happens or whatever where she was right. Aviation appears very glamorous and very profitable. There are a lot of people that see those $40 million jets and say, `Whoa, man, if I just do anything in aviation, I'll just make a bundle of money.' It's very competitive. In fact, there's a saying that says, `How do you make $1 million in aviation? Start out with $5 million.'

HATTIE: Yeah. Well, then why did you keep doing it?

REED: I guess I could either say because I just love the business, but it probably had to do with I had two notes to pay off, and I didn't want to declare bankruptcy. And I said, `I've got to do whatever it takes to turn the company around to make a profit so I can be a success.' Because I didn't want to go out of business and not be a success.

HATTIE: OK. Pride.

REED: Oh, pride, yeah. HATTIE: Pride.

REED: Pride. I've got two daughters; they're five and eight. I'm sort of a late breeder.

HATTIE: Only a Texan would say `late breeder.' Come on. OK, you had your children late.

REED: Cutest thing happened a couple of months ago. The oldest one, Macy, and I came out here on a weekend and I was doing something in the office. And she saw one of my business cards, and she said, `Oh, you're the president of Texas Jet.' And she thought that was just really pretty cool. And then she thought for a while and she said, `Daddy, when you die, who's going to run Texas Jet?' And I said, `Whoa, Macy.' I said, `Well, I hope that's not for a while, but I don't know. Maybe Mommy or--would you like to run Texas Jet, Macy?' And she said, `Yes, I would.' And, man, I almost cried. That was so sweet. And, you know, maybe someday they'll like to do that and maybe not. That's going to be their choice.

HATTIE: What will she need to learn in order to be the leader of this kind of company?

REED: I think she's going to have to learn how to be a good person. I think she's going to have to learn how to make decisions and to take responsibility for her actions and everybody else's that work here. She's going to have to learn when it's time to tell somebody they're not doing their job correctly and to please do it correctly. And she's going to have to be sensitive enough to the customers to get the feedback from them that says whether or not we're doing our job right.

REED: (Voiceover) Treating people with respect and integrity and dignity.

HATTIE: If you're the best in your industry, don't rest. Find your inspiration outside your inner circle. We'll see you next time.


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