By Matthew Stibbe
November 21, 2011
Larry Stoddard is the CEO of RelaDyne, a distributer of lubrication for industrial machinery. General aviation is very important for him to be able to visit multiple clients in a single day; often in rural areas were access to a commercial airport is very limited.
He flies a Cessna Mustang, which is a six-seat, very light jet. Starting at around $2.65m, it is an entry-level jet compared to larger, pricier aircraft. It’s very much a personal plane.
“I use it primarily for business travel,” says Stoddard. He and his wife own the plane and they only use it for business when it makes commercial sense, charging the company on a flight by flight basis.
The biggest benefit is efficiency. “Many of the businesses we visit are in small markets that are not well-served by big commercial airports,” he explains. So he can use the plane to take a team in and out in a day or he can use it to visit three or four companies in a couple of days. “It would take a week to do this commercially.”
Saving time saves money. Multiply four people’s salary cost by the number of days wasted travelling and add in the extra cost of hotels and, if you like, the opportunity cost of having senior managers on the road longer than they need to be and the cost of commercial travel quickly exceeds the price of a trip in the Mustang.
Stoddard and his wife, who is also a pilot (she used to fly Emerson Fittipaldi!) fly around 150-200 hours a year. They also use the plane for family holidays and, for a private pilot, a Mustang is very desirable as it is designed for single pilot operations. Or, to put it another way, it’s the plane I would fly if I had the money. Bigger planes tend to need salaried pilots and operations departments.
Right now, Reladyne is working on a deal with a company that is in a remote location. To fly there commercially would involve three changes and an hour’s drive. “Without the plane, it’s literally a nine-hour trip,” says Stoddard, “and we’ve been there several times in the last three months. With the Mustang it’s about two hours and my team can work during the flight. I simply don’t think we could have done it without this aircraft.”