Finding Next-Gen Achievers
Finding dynamic, innovative employees capable of developing new systems, processes and techniques to fuel the success of an operation for years to come is a major challenge facing fixed- and rotary-wing operations of all sizes.
By Matt Nicholls
Finding dynamic, innovative employees capable of developing new systems, processes and techniques to fuel the success of an operation for years to come is a major challenge facing fixed- and rotary-wing operations of all sizes. And with a looming crisis of retiring pilots, maintenance workers on the horizon and a dearth of highly qualified business operations personnel and aerospace engineers, it’s little wonder management types are nervous about the prospects for the future.
But for those desperately seeking to enhance their talent pool or worried about Canada’s ranking on the world aviation/aerospace stage, don’t be too alarmed – there are many talented aviation employees under the age of 40 making a difference at their respective organizations, reaffirming that the future is indeed bright for Canadian aviation.
In our inaugural Top 10 Under 40 special report, Wings and Helicopters proudly highlights 10 of these top achievers – men and women who have helped transform their organizations in maintenance, business operations, flight operations and more.
The 10 individuals featured – OK, we cheated, the Laflamme brothers pushed the total to 11, forgive us – were carefully selected by our editorial team following an online contest that ran earlier this spring. Candidates were nominated by their colleagues based on their influence to drive change at their respective organizations, their leadership skills and commitment to clients/colleagues, and their forward thinking towards the industry as a whole. In most cases, nominators selecting our featured “Next-Gen” leaders had several years’ experience working with the candidates, observing how they cultivated their skills and grew in their respected spheres.
Featured alphabetically, our Top 10 Under 40 achievers represent the resourcefulness, commitment and dedication organizations are craving in today’s marketplace. On behalf of the nominees and potential candidates, we thank you for your support and salute the achievements of all who participated.
Name: Tim Anderson
Title: Owner, Tim’s Terry Air
(soon to be rebranded Anderson Aviation)
Location: Huron Park, Ont.
To say Tim Anderson likes aviation would be a gross understatement. Here’s a guy who lives and breathes it.
The 30-year-old owner of Tim’s Terry Air Inc. in Huron Park, Ont., has long been interested in a career in aviation and he was very proactive in getting the ball rolling. Shortly after his first airplane ride at the age of 15, Anderson joined the 614 squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets to hone his aviation skills. Following Cadets, he quickly earned his pilot’s licence at Empire Aviation in
Anderson began his formal aviation career at the age of 18 with General Airspray, an aerial seeding and spraying service based in Lucan, Ont. At General, Anderson was entrusted with operating its mix rigs throughout northern Ontario, gaining valuable experience.
Following his stint at General, Anderson sought a formal degree in an aviation-related discipline and found precisely what he was looking for in the aircraft maintenance program at North Bay’s Canadore College. Armed with a degree, courage and plenty of ambition, Anderson went looking for adventure – and he found it in the form of Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife. After a stint with the famed northern airline, Anderson moved over to Hicks and Lawrence, a subsidiary of Discovery Air Inc., before returning to southern Ontario in 2006 to work with Supermarine Aircraft based in St. Thomas.
While working at Supermarine, Anderson garnered several personal achievements among them the completion of his commercial pilot licence and the attainment of his aircraft maintenance engineer licence. That decision led to a new bout of adventure and career development that included valuable experience at Sander Geophysics in Ottawa on international contracts in Greenland, Denmark, and the high Arctic; a stint at Enterprise Airways in Oshawa, Ont., including the Alfred Wagner Institutes’ Polar 5 Basler DC-3 Aircraft; as base manager in Resolute Bay; and a period of working for Calgary’s Kenn Borek Air, that saw him spend two months at the South Pole Station.
But Anderson craved more and in 2011, joined the ranks of aviation entrepreneurs, purchasing Glen’s Terry Air and renaming it Tim’s Terry Air. Offering customers a variety of services, including maintenance, aircraft storage, aircraft brokerage, fuel parts, pilot supplies and more, Tim’s Terry Air aptly reflects the sense of commitment and spirit of its owner – providing the highest levels of service to its loyal customers.
Terry Air was founded in 1982 by Terry Stuart to provide aviation services to southern, midwestern and central Ontario. It was purchased in 1999 by longtime employee and AME Glen Latour and renamed Glen’s Terry Air. Anderson, who is an M1 and M2 AME as well as a multi-IFR commercial pilot, purchased the business and hasn’t looked back. He is currently in the midst of rebranding the business to Anderson Aviation Services. Launching in July, Anderson Aviation more aptly reflects the man behind the name – a lifetime aviation enthusiast who has taken his career to the next level and never looked back. Anderson is living the dream, so to speak – as a leader, adventurer and member of several aviation organizations who gives back to his industry in so many ways.
Name: Todd Calaiezzi (left)
Title: President, Expedition Helicopters
Location: Cochrane, Ont.
“He’s the hardest working person I know. Many times he calls me at 11 p.m. and he is still at the hangar.”
This is just one sentiment to describe Expedition Helicopters’ president Todd Calaiezzi, left, by one of his loyal customers, a dedicated, hardworking leader who knows what it’s like to build an organization from the ground up. Located in Cochrane, Ont., with satellite offices in Moosonee, Ont., and Roquemaure, Que., Expedition operates a fleet of a dozen Bell and Eurocopter helicopters and boasts staff with some 40 years experience in
Specializing in northern operations specific to the natural resources sector including mining, forestry and hydro support, the 38-year-old’s business acumen and vision has led to the development of specific divisions at the company with high levels of specialization – specifically its “Service and Logistics” division. The camp section provides turnkey camp set-ups, rentals and logistics to the mining and forestry industries nationwide.
Calaiezzi’s concept for the division was born in the late ’90s, when it became apparent the mining/forestry industry was growing. As projects grew and companies struggled with effective camp setup, Expedition capitalized and developed a way to provide turnkey solutions for camp setups and more. The firm has also set up a freight division with 13 tractor trailers and a fuel company to capitalize on this category.
The diversified product offering devised by Expedition’s competent and hard-working leader, reflects the entrepreneurial spirit Calaiezzi brings to every project. And building from one machine to more than a dozen in such a competitive environment, it’s apparent Calaiezzi has Expedition headed in the right direction.
Name: Jason Fogg
Title: Program Manager/Base Manager, Discovery Fire Services Inc.
Location: Sudbury, Ont.
Having the acumen to put out fires on a consistent basis is one of Jason Fogg’s specialties. And that’s a good thing, especially when his role is to help monitor more than one million square kilometres of pristine Ontario forest.
As program manager/base manager with Discovery Air Fire Services in Sudbury, for the past five years, Jason has been co-ordinating the facilitation of putting out real fires across the province. And that has saved not only thousands of acres of prime forests, but property and lives as well.
Just 24, Fogg has a host of personal achievements to his credit, including a bachelor’s degree in management and organizational studies with a specialization in commercial aviation management from the University of Western Ontario in London. He is a commercially licensed pilot with an MIFR and float plane ratings, and is also a Class 3 flight instructor. He is also currently in the process of completing a masters of business administration through Laurentian University.
Fogg joined the Discovery team in 2008 as aerial operations coordinator, running logistics on more than 30 aircraft contracted to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) in support of the fire management program. Innovative and efficient, Fogg has demonstrated a high level of creativity when necessary, and has tried to create new technologies within the fire detection environment.
One such initiative was the “Firehawk Airborne Wildfire Reporting Tool,” in collaboration with the OMNR. Firehawk allows for more timely and accurate reporting in order to catch wildfires while they are small. This initiative won a provincial Diamond Award, given to the top innovative project within Ontario’s public sector.
In 2011, Fogg continued to demonstrate his industry leadership with the creation of an initiative aimed at establishing a flight training school at the Greater Sudbury Airport called the Discovery Aviation Academy (DAA). Fogg’s vision was to create an employment-focused training program that would bridge the gap between a student’s graduation and employment.
To benefit this endeavour, Fogg established a partnership with Cambrian College and established co-op positions within the Discovery Air network. In its first full year of operations in 2012, DAA flew more than 1,200 hours and had 17 first solos and 11 successful flight tests. Under Fogg’s leadership, DAA has become a member of the Air Transport Association of Canada, a key stepping stone to being awarded a contract with the Department of National Defence to train 10 air cadets in 2013.
It’s not a surprise that’s Fogg’s strong business acumen and work ethic has enabled him to be promoted to Sudbury base manager while keeping his role as program manager from DAA.
So, is it accurate to say Fogg is more than capable of putting out fires? Absolutely. Few are as competent in helping douse the flames while keeping so many irons in the fire himself.
Name: David and Enrick Laflamme
Title: Laflamme Engineering
Location: St-Joseph-de-Coleraine, Que.
Resourcefulness and entrepreneurial spirit are the hallmarks of the Top 10 Under 40, and David and Enrick Laflamme of Laflamme Engineering in St-Joseph-de-Coleraine, Que. certainly possess these qualities.
David, 34, and Enrick, 33, are professional engineers who have spent their entire lives surrounded by aviation-related projects and pursuits. At a very young age, they were immersed in the world of helicopters, gyrocopters and various helicopter parts – a path that captured their imagination and ignited their passion for everything aviation. Their father, Rejean, an avid aviation enthusiast and designer, completely rebuilt gyrocopters in the 1980s and soon after, introduced the very first Laflamme helicopter – the LAF-01, a machine with tandem rotors designed for the general aviation market under the Laflamme Helicopters brand.
David and Enrick helped their father on the LAF-01 project after each graduated with an engineering degree from Ecole de Technologie Superieure in Montreal, but in 2004 branched out to form their own engineering firm after the LAF-01 program slowed due to a lack of funding.
Laflamme Engineering specializes in finite element analysis with ANSYS (APDL, also called classic version). Mastering this software allows the design and analysis of complex parts, often using materials such as orthotropic composite materials. The firm provides state-of-the-art engineering services for aerospace and transportation companies such as CAE, Bombardier Transportation and Messier-Bugatti-Dowty. It also has diversified operations extending beyond its aerospace footprint to include engineering services such as oil tank analysis, the design/certification of industrial machinery and equipment, and the design/certification of mining equipment.
In 2009, the brothers took over the LAF-01 helicopter project with the hopes of raising the quality of the project to a new level. Since that time, they have also been working to develop unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) and are planning to certify the enhanced LAF-01 concept as the LX4.
Active participants in the aviation community, the brothers are members of the American Helicopters Society and have joined Aéro Montréal and the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ), with the goal of developing collaborative research projects with Canadian universities.
The Laflamme brothers are working hard to apply their shared strategic vision to becoming a Canadian leader in VTOL UAVs and light helicopters. Don’t bet against the dynamic duo doing just that.
Name: Trisha Lakatos
Title: Director, Business Development, ACASS
Location: Montreal Que.
She excels in all aspects of her life and does so with a “can-do,” positive attitude.
That’s how one top client described Trisha Lakatos, director, business development with ACASS in Montreal. “She has excelled in all aspects of her career personally, professionally and academically. She is reliable, open to ideas, works incredibly well with others and is always looking for ways to improve herself and her business.”
A glowing analysis for sure, and it typifies the work ethic and commitment Lakatos brings to all that she embraces. The 30-year-old joined ACASS in June 2007, following a one-year stint as a bilingual recruiter with experiential marketing firm Inventa. Her tenacity and drive quickly propelled her into a key leadership role at ACASS, which provides support services for business aviation including entry into service support; pilot and engineer support; aircraft management aircraft sales and acquisitions; SMS compliance support; and interim lift and leasing.
Drive and commitment are not lost on Lakatos, as she brings the same mindset to her work and academic pursuits that she did when she was a top-flight national swimmer for the University of Illinois (she graduated with a degree in kinesiology in 2006.) Hardly resting on her laurels, she is currently pursuing a master’s of business administration at Concordia University.
Trisha is a consummate professional who always pushes herself, embodying everything future leaders in aviation demand, which is precisely why she is a deserving of winner of a Top 10 Under 40 Award.
Name: Jen Norie
Title: General Manager, VIH Helicopters
Location: Victoria, B.C.
You might say Jen Norie has spent her entire life in the helicopter industry. And though it sounds like hyperbole, such an assertion wouldn’t be far from the truth.
Born in 1982, Norie has some 15 years of aviation experience under her belt. Norie is currently the general manager of Canada’s oldest privately owned helicopter company, VIH Helicopters Ltd., operating heavy helicopters that service domestic and international contracts for a global clientele. She is also general manager of YYJ FBO Services Ltd., a full service Shell Aviation FBO at Victoria International Airport, as well as marketing and communications manager for VIH Aviation Group of Companies.
In addition to her professional role, Norie was elected to the Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) Board of Directors as secretary in 2012 and has been an active chair of the Air Taxi Committee since 2009.
Norie’s career began in 1998 with VIH Helicopters, progressing through a series of increasingly challenging roles such as executive assistant, operations assistant and facilities manager. In 2006, she was appointed base manager in Fort Nelson, B.C. and prior to that was sales/marketing coordinator with Hawkair Aviation Ltd.
She studied business management at Dalhousie University, and international business and commercial law at the University of Victoria. She has completed the Canadian Helicopter Operator and AMO Management Course with Conklin and De Decker.
Being a third-generation helicopter manager, Norie adheres to her grandfather’s (Frank Norie) philosophy: “You may have 10 reasons why something can’t be done, but all I need is one good reason to do it.” Norie’s father, Ken, has been guided by this principle and it serves as both inspiration and motivation for her as she leads VIH into the future.
VIH operates within a tradition of innovation: it was instrumental in obtaining the Canadian certification of the Kamov KA32 helicopter.
At such a young age one might think that Norie’s role could be intimidating; however, she quickly points out that there is a highly experienced team of more than 100 professionals supporting her. And while her youthfulness belies her experience, Norie is strategically positioning VIH for growth and is forging a path as a future industry leader.
Name: Peter Rice
Title: Production/Quality Assurance Manager, Summit Helicopters (Formerly Trinity Helicopters)
Location: Yellowknife, N.W.T.
For Peter Rice, taking on new responsibilities and showing meticulous work ethic in every role he tackles is simply par for
The 31-year-old is the production/quality assurance manager for Yellowknife-based Summit Helicopters, operated by the Ledcor Group of Companies, which purchased Trinity Helicopters this past spring. Sporting one of the largest, most diverse fleets in the north, Summit proudly calls the far north home and is keen to provide clients with the most reliable and safest services possible.
Enter Rice, who was hired as an engineer level 1, with duties on the Bell 206 in his initial role with the firm, but quickly ascended the company ranks with endorsements on all four company type aircraft. He then moved on to the role of production manager and most recently has accepted additional duties as our quality assurance manager.
Rice’s technical accomplishments and personal skillset not only meet the standard of a true “Next Gen” leader, but exceed it and set an industry benchmark. He demonstrates a strong work ethic and commitment to the organization, showing an extreme ability to balance operational demands and human resource pressures to ensure company goals are met.
Rice’s ability to lead and work with his team are his strongest assets. It is commonplace for him to be found wrenching on machines or providing guidance and technical direction to others, helping other members of the Summit team. “Rice’s technical acumen commands respect from his peers and this combined with his personal humility makes him an exceptional leader,” notes Rob Carroll, vice-president of business development, Summit Helicopters.
Rice has taken the initiative to complete a course on project management fundamentals and a course on developing manuals that work. “While the company was growing, we found ourselves challenged between initiating an SMS System and following the procedures and processes required for such a system,” Carroll says. “Again, Peter stepped up and completed courses in corrective action plan management.”
Rice quickly pointed out the shortfalls in the process and offered solutions by providing assistance in quality assurance. He again took charge and supported his newly adopted role as quality assurance manager (while still maintaining production manager duties) and took it upon himself to work with technical records overseeing a self-auditing process. Carroll says this initiative led the company to obtain operational approvals with several large international oil and gas and base metal exploration and mining clients.
Earlier this year, he attended the Western AME Association AGM and was appointed a board member. He consistently offers feedback as a member and his desire to see the organization mature reflects his drive for day-to-day responsibilities and success.
Rice is indeed a true leader and an integral part of the Summit Helicopters team.
Name: Keith Saulnier
Title: CEO/Co-Owner, Georgian Bay Airways
Location: Parry Sound, Ont.
Having the ability to successfully multitask and exceed all expectations in a variety of realms is a special talent – one Keith Saulnier is meticulously working on perfecting.
The 38-year-old CEO/co-owner of Georgian Bay Airways (GBA) – he shares the business with wife Nicole Saulnier, an accomplished aviator in her own right – has successfully managed a busy seaplane business from Parry Sound Harbour for more than 10 years. Operating May through October, GBA offers express trips to Toronto, seaplane charters, float training and various other tourism options from its home base off Parry Sound harbour. Saulnier balances his “day job” around other key responsibilities, including work with the local business community in joint ventures and establishing a public service track record with which to funnel interest and partnerships.
When he’s not concentrating on the business or other ventures, Saulnier, tries hard to inspire new pilots to join the industry, and has worked hard to ensure that his company is “gender neutral.” He offers his time to any potential pilot, answering questions about the industry, and offers advice on career paths and general business dealings. He also regularly speaks at colleges, flying clubs and other venues about the virtues of aviation as a career.
GBA has been recognized by many organizations in the past and Keith is a big reason why. In 2004, GBA received the “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” from the Parry Sound and Area Chamber of Commerce (and is currently nominated as “Business of the Year” for 2012). In 2006, the Saulniers received the Ontera Youth Achievement Business Award in North Bay.
Saulnier has volunteered on the Parry Sound Airport Board and the West Parry Sound District Museum, and is currently an elected councillor for the Town of Parry Sound. As a husband and father of three young children, Saulnier has had to balance family commitments with business and public service obligations. His skill at meeting these three commitments has gained him respect with his peers, his customers and his competition.
Saulnier continues to watch for trends and opportunities to bolster GBA and is always interested in working with partners to shine a light on different perspectives of the working and natural environment in which he operates. His skills and aptitude are definitely driving the aviation and aerospace industries forward.
Name: Chris Schaefer
Title: General Manager, Bell Helicopter
Location: Calgary, Alta.
For Chris Schaefer, spinning a winning solution for a tough challenge is something Bell Helicopter management has come to expect.
Schaefer, 38, graduated from SAIT Polytechnic’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Technologist program in 1994 and earned his AME licence in 1996. Following terms of employment at Chevron Aviation Services, Canadian Helicopters Western and Madonna Helicopters Ltd., Schaefer took on the role of Quality Control Inspector at Bell Helicopter in 2003, inspecting rotables for the RCAF’s CH-146 fleet.
Schaefer’s performance has consistently exceeded expectation, leading him to advance first to senior repair and overhaul administrator and then to material program lead. He counts his involvement in negotiating DND and Bell Helicopter’s CH-146 Griffon Optimized Weapon System Support (OWSS) contract among his many successes in his last role.
Leading the Material Support team, he added staff management to his responsibilities, a task that’s expanded since he stepped in to his current role as general manager of Bell Helicopter Calgary. Along the way, Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in business operations and achieved honours standing, no small feat for a man who invariably puts his family and friends ahead of himself.
A novel feature of OWSS, performance measures were encouraged by Schaefer as a means of accountability and transparency, goals he champions today with both commercial and military customers. While overseeing the Material Program for DND, Schaefer earned the Six Sigma Green Belt, showing leadership in continuous improvement of company employees, not to mention saving the DND a significant amount of money.
As general manager, Schaefer is keen to build the commercial business and is excited by the diverse and important tasks carried out by rotary-wing aviation in Canada. He currently sits on the SAIT Art Smith Aero Center President’s Advisory Council and has been a volunteer board member for the Western Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Association. He encourages the staff at Bell Helicopter Calgary to take advantage of employer-paid continuing education, ranging from aircraft type courses to MBAs, and continues to champion the relationship between the Bell Helicopter Training Academy and SAIT Polytechnic, a first for rotary-wing OEMs in Canada.
There’s little doubt Schaefer is committed to providing high performance solutions at Bell Helicopter Calgary and within the industry
as a whole.
Name: Michael Schuster
Title: President, Aviation Solutions
Location: Guelph, Ont.
Resourceful, determined and ambitious are ideal words to describe Michael Schuster, a young aviation leader worthy of recognition on the Wings and Helicopters Top 10 Under 40 list.
The 33-year-old’s strong work ethic has propelled him to start his own business, Aviation Solutions, which offers flight instructor renewal courses. Schuster’s program is one of only four Transport Canada (TC) approved programs in the country and he could not have started the firm without a tremendous amount of knowledge, skill and leadership.
Schuster also develops safety management system (SMS) and operations manuals, and has created a collection of original written training material – as well as courses for instructor upgrades, advanced systems and more. At all times, he is driven by his primary goal of improving the safety and quality of flight training nationally – especially through the pursuit of SBT and better development of PDM.
Schuster’s experience also includes chief flight instructor for the National Flyers Academy (merged with Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre), and director of flight operations at Mayan Aviation/Empire Aviation. In addition to being a Class 1 instructor, he is also a Q400 captain at Porter Airlines and an authorized person and english examiner for TC.
Schuster is dedicated to continuous professional improvement, bringing material from 703 (where he flew the Pilatus PC-12) and 705 back into the flight training community. He participated in NAV CANADA’s Toronto airspace redevelopment project and has taken professional development courses such as SMS and CRM to continually improve his abilities. Schuster was also published in TC’s aviation safety letter (2011) and founded an annual award to recognize superior flight instructors.
Most recently Mike Schuster has redeveloped the instructor refresher course, being the first provider in Canada to offer an online/in-person hybrid to better meet the needs of Canada’s flight
Without a doubt, Schuster brings a tireless work ethic in his pursuit of improving Canadian aviation. His leadership brings together pilots, controllers and AMEs to present at his courses. It’s easy to see that his passion inspires students and clients alike to be the best they can be.