Without a company jet, Hannay Reels probably wouldn’t be in business. Like a vast number of its 3,000 customers and suppliers, this small business is located well off the beaten airline path. Although Albany, the nearest commercial airport, is just 40 minutes from Westerlo, it offers only a handful of direct flights to just a few major hubs.
For many in this small hill town, Hannay Reels means employment. Known for quality and service, the 80-year-old company has grown to become an international leader in hose and cable reel manufacturing. Two million Hannay industrial reels are currently hard at work around the world, and the company produces more than 80,000 reels annually.
Hannay Reels solved that problem early on, says company Chairman Roger Hannay. In the 1950s, Hannay’s father and uncle landed a large account in Elmira, New York. Getting there by car was an ordeal, so they turned their rural location into an advantage using a single-engine, piston-powered airplane that enabled quick, efficient statewide access.
Today, Hannay’s customers are nationwide, and the company jet provides entree to a completely new world of opportunity. It allows sales teams, engineers and management to visit quickly and easily with customers and suppliers in any part of the country. They can have meetings in hundreds of hard-to-access small towns, make those all-important face-to-face contacts and, best of all, visit multiple locations in a single day, which would be impossible by airline.
“These are trips that we might not have made at all if we had to rely on commercial transportation,” says Hannay. “Our success depends on face-to-face personal relationships. Having our own aircraft means that it is always available to us, and we can travel when and where we need to.”
Recently, he and a group flew to South Bend, Indiana, made their first sales call by 9:30 a.m. on a Monday morning and then went on to visit with 20 customers and two suppliers in rural areas of Indiana, Michigan and Ohio by the end of that week. “We flew home from Akron, Ohio in 48 minutes, and we were able to enjoy the weekend with family,” Hannay says.
With a small staff of only 150, Hannay Reels achieves amazing efficiency. “The biggest advantage to having a [company jet] is the targeted ability to go where we want to go and not where airlines send us,” says Hannay.
The jet not only slashes travel time; it serves as a virtual office aloft. “Bringing a group of people along in the cabin gives us an opportunity to get ready for the next visit, so that has tremendous benefit,” he says. Also, the jet frequently flies customers in to visit the Westerlo plant, turning a three-day commercial venture into a one-day trip.
Hannay emphasizes that operating a business jet is not always purely a dollar decision. “It’s not just about getting there. It is also about getting back. One less night away from home for our people makes a huge difference. We’re a very family-oriented company and quality of life is an essential consideration. The toll that commercial airline travel takes on our employees and customers—just the time and hassle of it—makes owning a plane like this an absolute necessity.”