Commercial MRO Covid19 Change & Opportunityby Editor - Daniel Brindley | November 24, 2020

Pastor Lopez President MRO Group GA Telesis
Pastor Lopez President MRO Group GA Telesis

Q&A with Pastor Lopez, President, MRO Services Group, GA Telesis, LLC

Q1 What are the biggest opportunities in Commercial MRO for the GA Telesis Team in this very different operating environment?

ANSWER: We see immense opportunities in a downcycle. After all, GA Telesis was founded in 2002, during one of the industry’s harshest downturns. We strongly believe in our eco-system™, which is already paying dividends. For example, GA Telesis recently acquired two B737-800s for cargo conversion, one of which is currently undergoing modification. Our MRO Services Group is overhauling the gear and repairing/overhauling components and structural items. Our Component Solutions Group is managing the repairs and interfacing with other suppliers.

Moreover, the cross-sharing of information allows the company to pinpoint, in real-time, where opportunities exist. Thanks to our management culture, we are very agile with our responses to this ever-changing market.

Q2 What new revenue streams have you identified (if any) to grow your MRO business in light of a difficult operating environment.

ANSWER: Our landing gear shop is doing very well. We had secured some international contracts that, despite the pandemic, have continued with their scheduled removals. Our component shop continues to expand capabilities daily. Likewise, our composite shop is enhancing radome capabilities and venturing into crew seats. The latter has gained much interest from our existing customer base. We are laser-focused and very opportunistic about spending our cash. GA Telesis has remained cash positive for the year, which facilitates our expanding vision.

Q3 Do you anticipate acquiring smaller “bargain-priced” MRO companies that may sell due to cash-flow issues or maybe enter into partnerships with other MROs to strengthen your business moving forward?

ANSWER: The entire supply chain is critical to maintaining the aviation industry’s operating efficiency and profitably. This includes our competitors. Unfortunately, there will be some MROs that will not survive this crisis. For instance, we acquired assets of a now-defunct company in the region for less than half of what we would have paid pre-pandemic. We expect to see more of these opportunities, as well as more consolidation.

Q4 Have you had to identify new methods of working and communicating with customers. If so, what is working well?

ANSWER: In this day and age, we do not lack the means of communication. At GA Telesis, we use every method available, including phone calls, text messages, social media, and emails. At the MRO Services Group, I have been sending regular updates to customers via direct email. This has been well received as it has provided our customers with real-time information. The message has remained the same: “We are open for business, and the entire team remains together.”

Recently, we have begun traveling again. Getting back on the road has had a positive psychological effect on our team and customers. Business Relationships are a critical component of any industry and are more readily cultivated in face-to-face meetings than teleconferences.

Q5 Has Covid19 changed how you talk, work, and communicate internally as a team, and do you see any net positives from these changes?

ANSWER: Leaders must lead, especially during this crisis. My first speech to the entire team was to reassure them we had a seasoned management team that has successfully navigated several crises during our careers. Leaders must bring a sense of calm while not sugarcoating the realities of the situation. We have an incredible team that understood it would be a wild ride, but we would become a better company with everyone’s help and support. And indeed, we have become a better company. Our team has focused on delivering a quality product on-time, every time.

Q6 Pastor, looking back to January/ February and where we are now (7 months later), operating with Covid19 still spreading has your Job focus changed, if so how?  

ANSWER: Our focus shifted early during the onset of the pandemic. The intent is not to operate in a crisis mode but rather to implement steps to minimize any negative impact in the business and avoid disrupting our teammate’s lives. At the end of February, the pandemic’s rumbles grew louder and louder, and at GA Telesis, we rolled up our sleeves and got right to it. We left no stone unturned in analyzing the steps needed to minimize any negative impact on the business. We kicked it into full speed in the middle of March, and by the end of April, we were able to reduce our SG&A costs to the point where MRO Services Group never had a losing month during the height of the pandemic.

We firmly believe that the worst is behind us. Even with the current increase of European cases, we believe their economies will remain open, albeit to a lesser degree. The mortality rate has decreased in recent months, and we are getting closer to a vaccine to combat the virus. This will absolutely change the current environment.

Q7 Has the market for talent opened up?  If so, have you been able to take advantage and recruit highly skilled/ qualified individuals who pre-Covid would not have been available?    

ANSWER: Indeed, at GA Telesis, we have taken the opportunity to augment our team for specific disciplines. We strongly believe that our team is the best asset we have. We brought aboard talented individuals who lost their jobs when their companies closed. Again, because of our management culture, decisions are made very quickly without any red tape.