Customer care will secure the sales

Published: 23 Apr 2018

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Although his father had to twist his arm to follow a career in aviation, Craig Lammiman has now become a regarded specialist in his sector, helping establish a UK Pilatus dealership on behalf of Oriens Aviation

What is your background and how did you get into aviation?

My family has always been in aviation. My father was managing director of the Cessna Citation Centre in Bournemouth, UK, serving the industry for 29 years. My mother, sister and wife were all cabin crew. I didn’t go into aviation immediately. I started an apprenticeship in the car industry at the age of 17, but quickly moved into sales. After a spell in a call centre, I was successful in a fast-paced business-to-business role with technology company Pitney Bowes. In 2007 my father suggested that I sell aircraft. When I told him I didn’t know how, he replied: “That’s good, because most people doing it already don’t know either.”

Where did you go from there?

I set up my own business called JetConcept, learning all aspects of business aviation. At the same time, I was involved in various other jobs, including establishing a boat forecourt, building an online business and working nights in a bar. In 2009, I sold my first aircraft – a Cessna Citation jet – and then took my skills to PremiAir in Farnborough, where I succeeded in selling 16 aircraft in just over two years. This led to other brokerage opportunities before I was offered a position within Marshall Aviation Services to sell Beechcraft King Airs. After relative success, I was offered a new, exciting position at Oriens Aviation to assist with setting up the UK Pilatus distributorship. I am now the company’s sales director.

Who has influenced you the most in your career?

My father. I’m proud to follow in his footsteps. Another influencer was Mike Preston, former engineering director at PremiAir. He helped me understand the critical nature of maintenance for an aircraft owner and how best to manage expectations. With Oriens’ acquisition of Avalon Aero’s MRO facility at London Biggin Hill, and its goal to establish a leading Pilatus centre, his advice will stand me in good stead.

What is a typical working week for you?

There’s no such thing, but that is part of the fun. Our environment isn’t one of volume; it’s all about gathering information, finding the opportunity and ensuring you can provide the client with the right information to feel comfortable enough to make a purchase. Principally, my role is to understand the marketplace completely: what aircraft are selling and whether potential buyers are looking at the PC-12 or other single-engined turboprop types. At the start of each week, I consider which customers are close to purchasing and will work on such things as agreeing a contract, doing an aircraft spec, and introducing them to people who can manage ownership structures (VAT, legal, etc). I also work closely with our marketing department to ensure we don’t miss opportunities. We always keep in close contact with customers after delivery. That is hugely important.

What is the future for single-engined turboprops in Europe?

Business aviation is a very small world and everyone is looking for that next opportunity. Expanding the role of single-engined turboprops is one for sure, now that EASA has approved these types to operate commercially at night and in instrument meteorological conditions.

Do you hope to get a PC-12 on a UK air operator certificate (AOC) in early 2019?

Yes. I’m looking for the right opportunity to support a client with placing the first PC-12 on a UK AOC. There is a reluctance, inevitably, to be “the first” to go through the application process, considering the time and cost. However, at Oriens we are confident that once the first application is granted it will pave the way for others. The first UK operator with the type on an AOC will have a clear market advantage. Where do you see yourself in five years? I aspire to be a well-regarded name in business aviation, a professional known for a can-do attitude who is knowledgeable and always finds solutions.

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