Exclusive Interview with Vladimir Stulančák (on the picture above), CEO & Chairman of the Board of Directors of Job Air Technic a.s.
Job Air Technic a.s., a member of Czechoslovak Group, is a leading maintenance company specializing in heavy and line maintenance for narrow body planes such as the A320 FAM and B737. With 30 years of history starting in 1993 with the Saab 340 and Let410, the company has grown to accommodate 8 planes at once in its two hangars, with outside parking and storage for over 50 planes. The mission of Job Air is to provide high-quality airplane maintenance services and become a market leader in the European MRO sector.
In this exclusive interview for Aerospace Central Europe (ACE) magazine, Vladimir Stulančák shares his thoughts on managing Job Air, including the changes he brought to the company, his philosophy on management, and the company’s future plans. He also discusses the impact of technology on his management style and provides a timeline of significant events since taking over the company’s management.
Job Air Technic is a leader in the European MRO sector with 30 years of history in providing high-quality airplane maintenance services.
Can you tell me a little bit about your company, its history, and its mission?
Job Air Technic a.s. is a maintenance company specializing in heavy and line maintenance on narrow-body planes such as the A320 FAM (CEO, NEO) and the B 737 (CL, NG, MAX). In 2023, we will celebrate 30 years of history, which began in 1993 with planes like the Saab 340 and Let410. Our two contemporary hangars can accommodate 8 planes at once and have outside parking and storage for over 50 planes. Our company’s aim is simple: to provide comprehensive airplane maintenance services of the highest quality, with the goal of becoming a market leader in the European MRO sector.
What specific changes did you bring to the company when you took over its management?
By the end of 2019, I had taken over the company. My attitude and primary motivator was open and honest communication. That was the only way to determine whether the current management was correct or if there was a need for change. I needed someone with an open mind, understanding of the area, and a high degree of flexibility to work with me. Those who didn’t have these qualities either left or were given the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities elsewhere. I believe in the adage that not everyone is ideal for their position, but it doesn’t mean they are not outstanding elsewhere. You shouldn’t be frightened to go through changes, otherwise, it will be tough for you as the leader of the organization and will not drive the company forward. Of course, there were other unique improvements that I brought, such as the implementation of LEAN Management, digitization of the organization, methodical work with regular control, and project management, among others. It wasn’t easy, but it was rewarding to watch the reforms lift our organization to new heights.
The CEO Vladimir Stulančák transformed the company with effective communication, digitization, and methodical work resulting in increased success and growth.
What strategies do you use to run the company and what is your philosophy on managing the company?
It is communication, as previously stated. Listen to the people, allow them free rein but with clear guidelines. If the folks don’t know how, teach them. That is the correct method. Most importantly, I realized the company’s objective and vision wasn’t clear enough. I am a demanding CEO who doesn’t set modest goals, and I had a good role model when I worked for Lufthansa Group, the world’s largest MRO.
How do you utilize technology in your management style?
When I started, we had very few technologies to help us steer the company. My management style is clear: set the task and timetable, track it in the system, monitor and evaluate it, and maintain its sustainability. It was difficult to keep track of, so we began to use new applications and professional software, and we gradually built our internal software. Compared to the current scenario, I couldn’t have imagined leading the company the way I did when I first joined.
What is your vision for the company’s future and where do you see it going?
My vision is crystal clear. I want Job Air to be one of the leaders in the MRO business, providing high-complexity, high-quality services in one location. We currently use many external suppliers for services that could go directly to us. We are still in a growth phase; in some areas, we are just catching up with the competition, in others, we are better. But we keep an open mind, want to learn and progress, and most importantly, we WANT.
Job Air’s vision is to become a leading provider of high-complexity and high-quality MRO services with a strong commitment to continuous improvement and growth.
Can you provide a timeline of the significant events and changes that have occurred since you took over management of the company?
It was two months after my arrival that we built a new hangar, which provided greater freedom for our organization. Actually, our flexibility is the primary driving force behind our success. It’s difficult to provide a timeline of changes as we have undergone significant change and development over the last three years. In 2019, we had 220 employees and 2.5 production lines. Currently, we employ 440 people and have five production lines. We survived COVID and 2021 was our most prosperous year in history, during which we regained the customer’s trust after a string of unsuccessful years. The aviation industry is strict and it takes 2-3 years to regain trust, if at all. My role is to maintain a high level of trust with Job Air.
How did you overcome any challenges you faced in the industry?
Aviation has been in a state of crisis since the start of the pandemic in 2020. We overcame these challenges by utilizing our flexibility and offering new services such as parking and storage for grounded planes due to worldwide constraints. This provided us with a solid foundation for our future. Then the situation in Ukraine arose, putting aviation in crisis mode again. But if we can survive all that, I believe we can only become stronger.
What are your plans for the future growth and development of the company?
Our strategy is simple: we need to grow. There’s still room for personalized services, products, brand building, acquisitions, and so on. Base maintenance will just be a part of our portfolio as we focus more on aviation itself. We have a long list of strategic plans for the next 3-5 years, which gives us energy and motivation to move forward.
How do you see the role of innovation and technology in your company’s growth?
Maintenance in aviation is a component of innovation and technology, but the industry’s nature sometimes makes the process slower. We can’t just modify procedures and supplies. Everything must be certified by the TC holder and meet precise standards, which takes longer than in other companies. At Job Air, we want to be a part of the innovation process, so we started by developing predictive production planning software that incorporates AI. Our goal is to fully integrate it into the company by the end of 2023. We’ve also started using 3D printing with non-aviation materials, which doesn’t require approval from aircraft manufacturers. Online technician training and virtual reality are other projects we’re working on, as well as the research and development of a robot for maintenance inspections.
Can you share your approach to using the latest technologies in managing and operating your company?
I have a positive attitude toward technology. We don’t immediately adopt everything, but as an open-minded organization, we welcome new ideas. However, we still have work to do to compete or establish market standards in certain areas. While we may not be the first to use certain technologies, we recognize their potential benefits.
What do you believe will be the biggest trends in the industry in the next few years?
It’s a difficult question, but the green deal and new electric or hydrogen aircraft are the hot topics right now. We’ll observe how Airbus and Boeing handle these developments. I also believe that a new player with innovative solutions will soon enter the market. AI is currently the largest trend and we’ll see more of it in the near future. However, one of the biggest challenges right now is a shortage of qualified personnel, and I don’t see any short-term solutions. As a result, I see a trend towards extending service intervals for maintenance and development.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs and aspiring business leaders?
A clear vision and mission is crucial. If you have it, all you need is the determination to achieve it and the rest will follow.
Can you share any recent projects or initiatives your company has undertaken to drive growth and success?
There are many. We are focusing on AI, expanding our services such as CAMO, PART 21, online type training, and ongoing merger and acquisition projects, as well as opening new component shops. I don’t just focus on one project since time is limited and we must always be aware of market changes.
How does your company encourage creativity and collaboration among employees?
We have implemented LEAN management, including KAIZEN and continuous improvement. Although we are not a manufacturing company, our staff consistently improve on a yearly basis. We have an open-door policy and a culture that encourages everyone to bring their ideas forward. Open communication among our employees is common, and I have no plans to change that.
How do you ensure that your company stays relevant and adapts to changing market conditions?
That’s a great question. Unfortunately, our sales strategy is confidential. However, we have a large number of customers and technical representatives from various clients, which allows us to obtain valuable feedback from the market on how to improve. Additionally, we plan to be more involved in exhibitions and conferences in the future. But why should we simply adapt to the market? Why not create our own market conditions?
Job Air Technic a.s. has a rich history in the European MRO sector, specializing in heavy and line maintenance on narrow body planes like the A320 FAM and the B737. With 30 years of experience and two contemporary hangars, the company is committed to providing comprehensive airplane maintenance services of the highest quality. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or an aviation professional, it is clear that Job Air Technic a.s. has what it takes to be a market leader in the European MRO sector.
Interviewed and edited: Katerina S. Urbanova, EIC @ ACE