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Lambert says Eagles of America


makes the refueling process so easy he is cheering for the company’s contin- ued growth. “We have a couple of other locations that we fly into fre- quently and we have jokingly asked Alan if they wanted to go and buy that place and start running it,” says Lam- bert, who has been flying for Sander- son for 17 years. “Tat’s the kind of people they are that you want to go to





ness? Tere’s actually a lot in the Bible about business that I never realized before.” He is still learning. Mathis says his


business and spiritual education have come largely at the hand of experience. “I look back and realize we’ve come a long way since 2004,” says Mathis. “I learn it on a moment by moment basis – this is how you [God] say to do it, and whether it makes sense to me or


we wonder how we are going to get there.” In fact, Lambert has noticed a pattern in the company’s locations, now spread out from their home base in Laurel, Miss., across the Southeast into Louisiana, Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia. “Anywhere we go there is an airport nearby,” says Lambert, who uses the Moultrie airport weekly to move employees and clients in and out of Moultrie. “Tat’s from the CEO to


Tat personal touch helps us stand out in the industry from other smaller airports.


that [other] place and see them when you fly in there.” Why such attention to customer


service? For Mathis, the answer is loſtier than mere financial gain: Eagles of America is a ministry. “Serving peo- ple is what we are called to do out here, over and above any business model or profit,” says Mathis. “For any believer, their vocation or business is a calling.” Mathis’ model is based on what the


Apostle Paul calls the “fruit of the Spirit.” Taken from the Book of Gala- tians, the characteristics (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-con- trol) are evidence of God at work in a person’s life, says Mathis. “God dis- plays the fruits of the Spirit through his children and we try to give focus to that on a day to day basis.” Mathis humbly describes himself as a


“below-average” businessman. He maintains any success Eagles of Amer- ica achieves comes from faithfulness. “Tis provides us with the opportunity to really test the waters about what we believe the Bible says about service,” says Mathis. “How does God say to op- erate a business? What principles does he have in place for running a busi-


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not that’s the way I want to do it.” Whatever he is doing seems to be


working. In an era when many small, family-owned businesses are closing their doors, Eagles of America has grown each year since it opened. Iron- ically, the recession may have helped Mathis’ enterprise. “Te down econ- omy made it where we could take on more because larger operators weren’t looking to grow,” says Mathis. Eagles of America recently expanded opera- tions to include an FBO at Southwest Regional Airport in Albany, GA, where Mathis is now responsible for fueling and servicing larger planes at a much busier airport, including many used by international shipper UPS. “God has implanted in this business a DNA for growth,” says Mathis. If service is the key to growing a suc-


cessful FBO, then a functioning airport and solid FBO are important to grow- ing an area’s industry. While he is not part of Sanderson’s site selection process, Lambert says transportation infrastructure is an important criterion for drawing in companies like Sander- son. “We know the importance of hav- ing a good airport,” says Lambert. “When we start looking at a new site,





midlevel executives to truck drivers and mechanics.” While factors like employment base,


available land, and proper watershed were paramount in drawing Sanderson to Moultrie, the airport also played a role in landing what has become one of Moultrie’s largest employers. “In lots of small communities around the country, the local airport plays a lot bigger role than the average commu- nity member realizes in bringing busi- ness in,” says Lambert, who describes Moultrie Municipal as the smallest air- port it could feasibly use. “It’s a plus when you have a business like Eagles of America that makes it easy for planes to come in and out.” For Mathis, running an FBO is the


culmination of a life spent around avi- ation. His father, Marion, has been a pilot Alan’s entire life. “My first mem- ories are of my dad flying,” says Mathis. Alan began taking lessons at 14, soloed at 16, and was a licensed pilot at 17, all minimum age require- ments in the United States. In 1984, Mathis received an appoint-


ment to the Air Force Academy. Aſter graduation, Mathis took a cross com- mission into the Navy, where he spent


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