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NIGHT VISION


It was after a 2005 air assault mission in Iraq that Aldous had the vision of NFC and started acting on it with three Army associates: David Luke, Jeff Epperson, and John Wardle (the latter two are no longer with the organization). What specifically sparked the idea for NFC was that higher command dictated that Chinooks fly only at night under cover of darkness, since the big aircraft was an easier target during daylight. This completely flipped the percentage from daylight to night flight. Aldous says, “Our night knowledge and skillset grew exponentially. Our thought process was: Man, if we could take all our night knowledge back home to the U.S., that would greatly benefit first responders there.” Aldous recalls those nascent NFC days. “I still remember calling Richard Borkowski at REB Technologies. He was wondering who was this guy calling him from Iraq, but he was very nice and allowed us to keep in touch. I had a lot of downtime in my final tour and I used those hours to research and further develop a business plan for the night vision company some of us had decided to create. I was still on active duty status when we legally formed Night Flight Concepts on 24 October 2006 when I came home to the states on a two-week vacation.”


Upon his discharge in June 2007, Aldous set up NFC’s executive offices in his parents’ garage. Despite the stereotypical small business beginning, big changes in night vision demand and technology were in play that would nourish NFC’s efforts. Still, ‘the little company that could’ had to climb the business learning curve and pursue opportunity. Aldous recalls, “We first worked out of the garage cold-calling companies and trying to make industry contacts. My dad helped build a


display for our first trade show. It was beautiful, with recessed lighting and all the works, but it was extremely heavy! We took it in a rented U-Haul truck to ALEA at the Orlando convention center.” U-Hauling his booth was just the first challenge. Next, Aldous needed an emergency vacuum cleaner. “I’ll never forget, it was our first tradeshow and another exhibitor visited our booth to check us out while he was eating a donut. I had to walk away because I was so mad that he was getting crumbs all over our booth’s clean black carpet!” he laughs. NFC may have started its first trade show picking up little crumbs, but it concluded by picking up a big contract from the Broward County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office. “We modified two of their aircraft in partnership with Richard Borkowski and REBTECH, sold them 12 sets of night vision goggles, and trained about 14 of their personnel. It was a big contract for us.”


From then on, NFC could afford maid service. “That was late 2007. We were in the right place at the right time because night vision technology got accepted by the law enforcement and the HAA (helicopter air ambulance) sectors in the years since then. We never had a bad year, even with the 2008-09 recession occurring.” In 2014, NFC made an executive decision to search for a new partner in the business. Although NFC had several interested organizations, they ultimately partnered with Gordon Jiroux, whose guiding principles aligned very much with theirs. “One important point I can say about Gordon is that he cares about people and puts the interest of others before his own. That goes a long way in a partnership, especially when the business core competency is to serve the ones who serve us.”


SERVE SOMEBODY


The prospering company soon enacted another part of Aldous’ NFC vision: unfailingly serve others. “Anything and everything we do in our company has to benefit our customers. At the end of the day, we hope it benefits Night Flight Concepts, but only if it benefits the people that we serve,” he says. “Many of our customers themselves, such as HAA and law enforcement, serve their communities. Countless times they’ll need one of our services, but just don’t have the money. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve just done free training exercises or have done free goggle inspections, or have given away online CBT, or laser glasses because an organization is experiencing a lot of laser strikes. We’ve also given away scholarships to the Whirly-Girls (a non-profit that promotes females in rotorcraft aviation) for NVG flight training. We donate to many charities, not just in money but also in time.”


With all that in mind, it’s not surprising that Aldous describes his leadership style as that of a “servant leader.” He says, “It’s not about me or Night Flight Concepts; it’s about who and how we serve...service is one of my core values. Whatever I do I want to be able to help someone else out, be it our country, other people, or organizations that we work for. I


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