The economy may be bumpy, but Fred Reid of Flexjet—the Richardson-based fractional business jet ownership program—refuses to let it slow him down. While Reid’s been with Flexjet for less than a year, he’s been in the aviation industry since the mid-’70s, serving as president of Delta Airlines and president and COO of Lufthansa German Airlines. He’s also held management positions with American Airlines and Pan American. “Private aviation has been painted negatively in the press, but it is not inherently bad,” Reid says. “People do things with it that they could not do otherwise. It adds to the productivity of very busy people, most of whom provide economic value to the country.” Fractional ownership of a jet starts at almost $8,000 a month, not including hourly rates and fuel—but that’s a heck of a lot cheaper than forking over $8 million for a Learjet 40XR.
TITLE/COMPANY President of Flexjet and Skyjet (There’s no CEO, but he is the equivalent.)
TENURE 10 months
BEST PART OF JOB The people of Flexjet and Skyjet and their ‘can-do’ attitudes. I’m not just saying that. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve worked in nine countries, and a lot of different places. The DNA of this company is its service delivery.
WORST PART OF JOB This sounds corny. There aren’t really any bad things. I’m just stressed about the economic downturn, how it affects our profitability and the welfare of our teammates, and there’s nothing I can do about it except keep our heads up.
MANAGEMENT STYLE I strive to be accessible and to encourage. I would like to think of myself as an enabler. I care about the opinions of people. I strive to be inclusive and a person who challenges the team to come up with solutions on their own and then review them with me.
WHY AVIATION? It’s a little bit genetic. My dad was in the airline business for 30 years. So when I was a kid, we flew all the time. My earliest memories were Prop DC-3’s flying around Africa. And then I grew up and I wanted to do something else so I went into the hotel business. I married a woman from India, and we realized mobility was crucial. It worked out pretty well considering I started out as a ticket agent in Saudi Arabia.
FIRST JOB I was a management trainee at the first five-star luxury beach resort ever built in India: The Fort Aguada Beach Resort in Goa, India. I worked for $62 dollars a month in 1976.
SECRET TALENT I used to be really good at tying knots and doing decorative roping when I lived on a sailboat [for almost two years]. I can do a monkey’s fist and a baggy wrinkle.
EFFECTS OF ECONOMY There was a rapid downturn in market demand of new business in Q4 of 2008. The first quarter has been significantly better than last quarter. New business is still soft; there was a brief period where we had a number of owner exits and that has stabilized now. We’re seeing normal exits rather than high exits. We have reduced our fleet size slightly, but we are positioned for a recovery. I think the lowest point is behind us.
FLEXJET CLIENTS They’re really smart, extremely hard-working people. We’re not much into rock-n-roll and fashion. We don’t carry around the glamorous people. We don’t mind, but we have plenty of business with people who tend to stick with us for a long time.