We sat down with Duncan Aviation International Parts & Rotables Sales Rep, Hannah Bodenstab as she recounted her recent experience traveling to South Africa to visit aircraft parts customers.
Visting Execujet: (LtoR) Thembi Lavisa, Simone Parsley, Hannah, Natanya Rich, Graham Naylor, Romarth Machimana.
Hannah, you recently traveled to South Africa to meet with customers, tell us about your trip?
This was my first visit to South Africa. I traveled there to meet with a very important customer of mine, Execujet after attending EBACE (European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition) in Geneva, Switzerland. I also met with Absolute Aircraft Parts, MCC Aviation, and Bhakari. I wanted to visit others but had some time constraints. Maybe next time.
What were your goals?
My primary goal was to have that face-to-face interaction with customers I’ve only met and worked with over the phone for the past few years. I also wanted to provide information on all the services Duncan offers, and I believe it was paramount to thank them for choosing to do business with Duncan Aviation.
Were there any challenges?
Being halfway around the world, it is a challenge to convince customers that Duncan Aviation should be their first choice for aviation parts or services. Lead times with shipping and deliveries or delays with customs and returns are just a few obstacles that we deal with every day. Two days is the minimum for a part to travel from our Lincoln, NE, facility in the U.S. to South Africa. That’s a very long time in the aviation industry.
As far as challenges visiting customers, security is very strict on the airport. The requirements for permits and/or escort to approach the facilities created some delays. Time constraints also limited the amount of people I could see but those that I did get to visit were very successful.
Hannah with Paulo Ferreri and Adrea Di Fede of Piaggio Aerospace at EBACE 2017.
Why do you think, or why do your customers do business with a company in the middle of America rather than one closer to Home?
Customer service. The aircraft parts industry is so competitive, especially in a time when price is increasingly valued over support; Duncan Aviation offers the whole package.
One thing I am able to offer my international customers is consolidated shipments. Whether they have repair units, exchanges or piece parts, Duncan Aviation offers one shipment at their convenience. This saves them time and money with customs and leaves less room for error.
In addition to customer service, we also have to offer convenience. Accessibility and being a one-stop-shop attracts international customers; going the distance for parts and repairs ends up saving them money in the long run.
What was most rewarding?
Finally meeting the Execujet team in person. I have a very strong relationship with them and they have a long-standing relationship with Duncan Aviation. The reception I received was absolutely wonderful.
What did you learn from this experience?
I gained more confidence from this trip. Being a female in the aviation industry has its challenges but traveling and representing Duncan Aviation abroad has given me confidence. Being able to share my knowledge of the industry with customers not only offers affirmation that they made the right choice coming to Duncan Aviation but also inspires customer confidence that I am able to support them now and in the future.
What is your impression of the international aviation marketplace?
It is ever changing but I don’t feel that we are in any way behind or ahead of it. There are a lot of companies that are unfamiliar with Duncan Aviation and our services. I am working to keep the name Duncan Aviation in front of potential customers and am taking every opportunity to share who we are and what we do.
Also, the value of the dollar always seems to find its way into every discussion. I was constantly reminded how far our USD will stretch in South Africa. Just goes to show how important customer service is when customers are paying for parts from the United States.
What do you feel international aviation/parts customers are wanting?
Everyone wants cheap prices and parts delivered yesterday. This is why we orchestrate order delivery that is seamless, keep costs down and do our part to get every customer the best price.
When you think of the future of aviation and International sales, what gives you a sense of hope? What makes you concerned or worried?
I’ve only been in aviation for five years so it’s hard for me to imagine not having a solid international customer base. Prices are getting more competitive and margins are disappearing but customers keep coming back to Duncan Aviation.
What are some takeaways or lasting impressions from this experience?
This being my first trip to South Africa, I was overwhelmed by how welcoming and helpful everyone was and I’m ready to go back. Even though this was a business visit, it allowed me to get to know my customers on a more personal level which has improved our business relationship. I was shown great kindness and before I was out the door, I was already invited back on the next visit.
Anything else you’d like to add about this experience?
I am so grateful that I was able to have my husband Devon travel with me. He handled the logistics on the trip so I could focus on setting up meetings and visits. All my customers were so happy to meet him and were so impressed that I worked for a company that supported family in that way. I am so thankful for the experience, it was amazing.
During the trip, Hannah and her husband Devon were able to do some exploring. Including the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Krugersdorp and Table Mountain in Cape Town.