The Faces of Entrepreneurship: Engine & Airframe Solutions Worldwide
Issue:Winter 2015 : Articles
Once tennis partners, Ed Waske and Bob Martino are now business partners whose Bridgeport-based company, Engine & Airframe Solutions Worldwide, provides repair and maintenance services to aircraft companies around the globe.
Martino, a dentist, is chief executive officer of Wilmar Management, a company that manages seven dental offices in West Virginia and five in Tennessee. He is also CEO of EASW and finds similarities in running both businesses.
“It’s about customer service,” he said. “I think that’s where the similarities come in, treating people right, making sure that they have a great experience. That’s what we try to do in the dental world, and that’s what we try to do in the airline industry world.”
Waske, chief operating officer of EASW, worked for many years for Beechcraft and Pratt & Whitney Canada, traveling the globe identifying problems with aircraft and fixing them. His position as a senior field representative with Pratt & Whitney eventually brought him to Bridgeport, where the company operates a facility in the industrial park adjacent to North Central West Virginia Airport. Waske and Martino teamed up in 2006 to launch EASW, first leasing a hangar, then building their own facility. Martino runs his management business upstairs while EASW operates downstairs.
About 70 percent of the company’s business addresses aircraft emergencies – those that result in “AOG” (Aircraft On Ground), meaning that the aircraft has mechanical issues serious enough to keep it from flying. Much of the work they do is on private corporate jets for companies such as Net Jets and Pratt & Whitney. Those companies have their own aircraft maintenance staff but call on EASW when they are short on personnel or lack the expertise for a certain job.
“We are known for being faster, better and safer,” Waske said. “We work on all the aircraft with the understanding that our family members could be the next ones flying on it.”
The company has about 25 employees, most of whom are technicians who travel all over the world to repair aircraft. Their jobs are demanding and require a great deal of dedication, Martino said. Employees of EASW share in the profits of the company through a bonus system. “The better we do, the better they do,” Martino said. “You can’t grow if you go forward and everyone else stays back. You have to grow together.”
The company has worked with RCBI over the years to manufacture tooling necessary for particular jobs. While it may take months to get a particular piece from a supplier, EASW can design the tool itself and manufacture it at RCBI in a matter of days. Saving time is vital in the aircraft industry, Waske said.
“We had one job that was for a hospital, and it was critical to their mission,” he said. “We had all the tooling but one piece, and nobody had it. So we designed the tooling, went over to RCBI, and they helped us make it. We were on site within two days to get the hospital aircraft back up.”
Waske advises other people who want to start a business to do as he did: Learn from those with experience in starting and running a successful operation. Martino said it’s important for entrepreneurs not to get bogged down while seeking the perfect answer or solution to each problem. “What I’m best at is making decisions,” he said. “I’m not talking good decisions — I make a lot of bad decisions, but I make the decisions. That’s the key. A lot of people want it perfect, and they get stuck. Sometimes you have to get moving.”
Martino also said self-confidence is important when it comes to entrepreneurship. “You just have to look across America and say, ‘If that guy’s doing it, then I can do it.’ That’s probably what people say about me. ‘If that guy can do it, so can I.’ ”