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task at hand. It’s great to have aspirations and discuss how to get to your next step, but focus on your current step and the next step will come to you. That’s what I was taught and remember today.”


That lesson was well learned. Massey eventually worked his way up to chief engineer of all Bell legacy products. Then he moved, within Textron, to Able Aerospace Services. Through his engineering career, Massey had a natural curiosity that went beyond a typical engineer’s focus. “Whenever I was leading an engineering team, I consciously tried to understand the business issues involved: our break-even points, our profit goals. I had a natural curiosity for business,” recalls Massey. “Learning how to communicate and explain things to executives was something I strived to do well. Communication is not a priority for many engineers, but it’s very important.”


COMMUNICATE & APPRECIATE


While communicating is now a priority for Massey, it is a skill he had to learn. “Early in my career,


I received some negative


feedback on how little I communicated to my team,” he remembers. “Up to that time, I had not been in leadership positions; I took care of things myself. I was then coached that I needed to go out of my way to keep my team informed and make sure they correctly understood what I expected. Just because you say something, don’t assume that it’s heard and understood the first time.


Just because you know how to do something, don’t assume that your team member also knows how to execute the task. As a leader, you need to ask questions to make sure everyone understands expectations. Communicate to your team properly and repetitively.”


Now as general manager, he goes beyond communicating. Massey even mentors his engineers by recommending books on engineering history that he believes will develop appreciation for their chosen profession. “I feel that in modern times we don’t appreciate what it took to accomplish major engineering feats like the Panama Canal built in 1908. Thirty thousand French engineers and workers gave their lives to build that canal. The concrete and steel originally used lasts to the present day. It was one of the first major uses of corrosion-resistant steel. We take these things for granted and don’t realize the dedication it took to create things we use today.”


MEETING CHALLENGES


Reading about the ultimate sacrifice past engineers made helps put today’s challenges facing Able Aerospace Services and the rotorcraft industry in perspective. For example, helicopter flight hours have been down, which means that large operators try to sell used aircraft on the open market. “That creates a big, new competitor for us as an MRO/OEM trying to sell aircraft support,” says Massey. A corresponding challenge: when oil & gas sector hours decline, so does its need for overhauls and repairs.


Massey says, “Fewer people flying drives down repair and overhaul demand, which makes it hard to make money in our segment.” The flip side can also create challenges; when times are really good for operators, they tend to bring major repairs and overhauls in-house. While Massey believes that 2018 “is going to be a good year,” a future challenge Massey foresees flying toward Able Aerospace are fleets of unmanned aircraft: “Are we going to keep maintaining and fixing major mechanical assemblies, or are we going to shift to replacing electric motors?” he wonders.


While he seeks the answer to that possibly existential question, one is confident that Massey will find a balanced solution that both benefits Able Aereospace Services’ customers and his Textron team.


rotorcraftpro.com


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