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Manufacturers face unique challenges. With many facilities, employees, customers and suppliers dispersed across great distances, it can be difficult to manage a modern company. Business aircraft make that possible. Companies such as National Socket Screw Manufacturing have realized this advantage for decades.
"Our whole business model is set up on me being mobile between Montreal and Vancouver and wherever I need to go. The aircraft is a time machine for me to be able to run, manage and look after these businesses."Don Lockard, owner of National Socket Screw Manufacturing
The largest manufacturer of its kind in Canada, National Socket Screw Manufacturing produces and markets threaded steel fasteners and related components for commercial construction. For 34 years, business aircraft have helped owner Don Lockard travel between Canada’s opposite coasts and dozens of places in between to reach his facilities, customers and suppliers.
In 2009, Lockard took delivery of a Cessna® Citation® Mustang® after selling his single-engine turboprop. He was looking for more speed.
"I can do amazing things with the Mustang. It’s been a utilitarian machine. This thing is fast. I can quite often get more done than I could before. And, because of its speed, I fly fewer hours," Lockard said.
"We've been in business since the early 1950s. We've operated aircraft since 1981. We started with a single-engine piston Cessna, then moved up through the pressurized cabin class and then into the turboprops. Now, we’re in a jet."Don Lockard, owner of National Socket Screw Manufacturing
With customers all across Canada, Lockard typically flies the Citation Mustang every two weeks, averaging about 150 hours a year.
"I do a lot for the company by myself. I'm able to because of the aircraft. If a customer from Halifax calls in the morning with an opportunity, I can say, 'I'll be there for a late lunch.' I don’t have to check the airlines; all I do is check the weather, and if it's okay, I go. I'll be there in two hours flying time," said Lockard.
Lockard has manufacturing facilities in Vancouver, British Columbia and Montreal, Quebec
The Mustang is the only aircraft Lockard has owned for more than five years. In that time, he has come to trust his aircraft.
"The Mustang is never in the shop. I've only had two preflight mechanical cancellations in over six years, and both of those were easily fixed. Cessna just blows you away with what they do and how they support the aircraft. The reliability is phenomenal. I wish we had bought the Mustang five years earlier," he said.
Lockard sees his aircraft as vital to both operating his business and growing the company, too.
"NBAA has some interesting data. It shows that companies that operate business aircraft have a higher ROI than those that don’t. Coincidence? I kind of doubt it. In Saskatchewan there is a little town called Swift Current. It’s just kind of a wide spot in the road, but they have an airport. One day I got a call from a potential customer who wanted to talk about buying our products. I said, ‘I’ll be there tomorrow for lunch.’ I flew and flew and flew — this was a few years ago before I had the Mustang. I landed in Swift Current and hitchhiked from the little airport to the customer," said Lockard.
"The fellow said, ‘You came out here just to see me? Nobody ever comes here.’ I could see why. He is about a three-hour drive from the nearest commercial airport. We ended up with his business and the single-biggest order in our company’s history. That’s what an aircraft allows me to do. So, has private aviation helped business? Without a doubt."
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