The Duncan Download Blog: Business Aviation Advice & Observations

Robert Duncan: Flying Away to Gain Perspective

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 @ 11:32 AM

During the first week of March, Duncan Aviation’s Chairman Emeritus Robert Duncan, Chairman Todd Duncan, Vice President Jeannine Falter and Regional Manager Alan Huggett devoted three days to visiting competitors and customers while breaking in the new Citation M2. They spent the final two days of the work week at a Customer Advisory Board meeting at Duncan Aviation’s Provo, Utah, facility. Shortly after his return, Robert reflected on the trip and provided the following observations.

Robert Duncan with the M2

Robert Duncan stands next to Duncan Aviation's Citation M2 with a new double-take design. Click here to watch a timelapse video of the M2's unique scheme.

It’s not often we allot ourselves much time to step away from the many Duncan Aviation locations and look at what we’re doing from an outsider’s perspective. It’s even rarer that we get to monitor what our competitors are doing. After three days of doing just that, I came away with a few overwhelming impressions.

Renewed Appreciation for Bizav

The amount of work we completed in just a few days would be unthinkable if we had flown commercially. We spent about 10 hours in the air, which equates to about 3,500 miles traveled in one work week. That itinerary would be impossible to keep with using any other mode of transportation. We could have easily added another week to the trip had we flown commercially.

What a business aircraft can do for a company is increase productivity. We service the aircraft that keep the business world moving at an incredible pace. We help connect the world and support the global presence for many businesses. Taking part in that process first-hand reminded me how important our work is and how much it affects the business world every minute of every day.

Marketing Our Success Is as Simple as Showing Our Products

Thanks to our paint team, no arrival or departure went unnoticed. The M2 is a flying billboard that highlights the creativity of our design team and the high-quality product our paint team produces. One of the first things people do when they see the aircraft is go up and touch the surface; they’re amazed at how smooth it is.

That’s the best form of marketing—making our product available and letting people take it in.

When the plaid Mustang was first completed and flown, people would say, “oh, that’s interesting,” which meant they didn’t like it. In contrast, everyone has had a positive reaction to this paint scheme. The M2 had a huge visual impact and was universally liked. That’s a win on many levels.

Duncan Aviation Pride

The trip taught us that although we have a lot of competition, we have even more to be proud of.

I was overwhelmed by the remarkable respect and admiration people in the aviation community have for our company and people. I often come back from these trips on a high because I get to see all of our accomplishments from the outside looking in, through the lens of those who see us as friends and adversaries.

The aviation community spans the globe, but it’s a relatively small community, meaning close-knit relationships are key. We visited two competitors, who we also view as customers because, well, we do business with everyone.

We were incredibly well-received by both companies and plan to work more closely with them in the future. They each have unique talents and niches, and we want to support those by offering services they can’t perform on their own. By supporting them and ensuring we deliver a product up to our standards, we keep their customers happy, consequently keeping them happy. As we continue to deliver, those relationships become stronger. This is one of the main goals of our avionics shops, and rapid response teams.

Reflection Leads to Innovation

Often times, we’re so immersed in what’s going on day-to-day, it’s hard to generate new ideas and think creatively, which is why it’s important to get out and expose ourselves and the rest of the team to new ideas.

After I walked through our competitors’ hangars and listened to our customers suggest improvement at the advisory board meeting, I spent hours recording all the possible avenues we could consider for Duncan Aviation’s distant and more immediate future. The trip yielded more work for our many locations and sparked the start of a few new relationships. It spurred some great ideas and allowed us to pat ourselves on the back a bit.

What we do each day is impressive. Because we remain on the cutting edge and invest in our future, what we do tomorrow and the next day will be extraordinary. We are unlike any other. We are Duncan Aviation.

View Duncan Aviation's company video      

Our Work Speaks For Itself

Tags: Duncan Aviation-Provo, Announcements, Careers & Recruiting, Videos

Todd Duncan: Collective Courage, Attitude and Vision of a Family

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Tue, Apr 01, 2014 @ 02:22 PM

Todd Duncan & FAmily

Todd Duncan (middle right) with his father Robert (middle left) and twin sons, Harrison (far left) and PK (far right).

Todd & Connie Duncan

Todd and Connie Duncan

My aviation career spans a quarter century, and during those years, I’ve seen almost every one of our competitors bought, sold or change their name. Duncan Aviation has remained exempt from this practice by investing in a family owned brand that’s stronger than ever.

Our team’s collective courage, attitude and vision have allowed us to connect with our customers on a more personal level than much of our competition. I think that level of respect for all individuals is what helps differentiate us from the rest. We’re more than a company, we’re a family, and we approach every project with the same level of care.


We. It’s a strong word and one I hear a lot at Duncan Aviation. Everything we do involves one or more teams. There’s strength in numbers. Instead of having one decision maker, we entrust our people—all of our team members—to make the right decision each and every day, whether it’s right in front of a customer or internally.

Giving our team that kind of responsibility allows them to step up and show courage. Without the courage of those first few Duncan Aviation team members back in 1956 and the more than 2,000 team members we have today, we wouldn’t be where we are. Sometimes those decisions are small, other times they’re large. But they’re all important ones because they affect our overall goals. Every experience allows us to gain a bit more courage, strength and confidence.


One of my earlier memories is of a Duncan Aviation company party. It was 1976, the bicentennial year, so we had a big celebration at my parent’s house outdoors. A couple hundred employees came, and I remember feeling this sense of family—somehow, I knew we all supported each other.

I saw this as a young person and that experience, that collective attitude, is something we try to replicate every day at Duncan Aviation. There is no excuse for us growing larger and losing that essence. And we make a conscious effort to keep this feeling alive. I know our customers immediately pick up on that attitude and it’s an extra value that comes with the Duncan Aviation experience. 


Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Failure was never even an option for Duncan Aviation. We’ve had some tough days, weeks and even years, but I’m really excited about the next 10 years for our company, for business aviation, for my career, as well as for our team members’ careers.

I think our 10-year plan lays out a road map for us, certainly one that can change and shift when we encounter the unpredictable, but one we are all behind and one that we will all contribute to.

As our locations continue to grow in size and number, I look forward to expanding into new customer markets and into global markets where we haven’t yet reached or where we’ve just begun to make connections.

As difficult as business aviation is, I’ve never been more excited about what’s to come. Join us for the ride.

To learn more about Duncan Aviation’s culture and the people behind the name, watch our company video “Our Work Speaks for Itself.

Tags: Announcements, Careers & Recruiting, Videos

Duncan Aviation’s Mike Minchow Elected to AEA Board of Directors

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Mike Minchow

Duncan Aviation's Mike Minchow will serve a three-year term on the 18-member AEA Board of Directors.

At last week’s 57th annual AEA International Convention & Trade Show in Nashville, Tennessee, the newly elected members to the AEA Board of Directors were introduced and recognized during a special awards luncheon. Mike Minchow, Duncan Aviation’s Manager of Completions & Avionics Sales was among the newly elected directors selected by the members of AEA in a membership-wide vote.

Gary Harpster, Duncan Aviation Avionics Sales Representative and current AEA Board Chairman, reflects on Duncan Aviation’s history and association with AEA and the future as Minchow joins the directors.

“A long-time and now retired Duncan employee, Ron Hall, was on the AEA board for 20 years before term limits. He taught me the value of this organization and I am proud to have served on the board for nine years now. I'm very pleased that Mike will be offering his insight and knowledge of the industry as I leave the board," said Harpster. “Mike has a well-rounded knowledge of aviation in general and he's a good communicator. I believe his level of expertise will blend well with the other board members.” 

Minchow joins the AEA Board of Directors having worked more than 20 years at Duncan Aviation, serving in several leadership roles including Manager of Interior Modification Sales and Design, Fractional Program Manager and Avionics Sales Manager. His experience in repair station operations and knowledge of the current regulatory environment in business aviation give him a real hands-on understanding of the challenges facing MROs.

Founded in 1957, the Aircraft Electronics Association represents more than 1,300 aviation businesses, including repair stations that specialize in maintenance, repair and installation of avionics and electronics systems in general aviation aircraft. The mission of AEA is to be a worldwide, self-sustaining organization committed to enhancing the profitability of its members. The 18 Directors of the AEA Board are elected to a three-year term representing all areas of the United States and three international regions including Canada, Europe and The South Pacific.

Tags: Avionics Installation, Announcements, Careers & Recruiting

We Are Duncan Aviation: Where Extraordinary Efforts are Part of the Job

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 @ 08:57 AM

Duncan Aviation has team members from India to Michigan and our backgrounds are even more diverse. A common thread that ties us all together is an inherent sense of doing the right thing and a positive attitude that allows us to be a step ahead of the rest.

 It’s the people within a company who create such a strong brand. Duncan Aviation is an experience, unlike any other. We share stories like these within the company daily as a reminder to all team members just how much our customers mean to us and what it takes to create that exceptional experience time and time again.

Meet Troy and Stacy

Troy Reinke and Stacy Finch

Troy Reinke and Stacy Finch, Duncan Aviation Master Paint Specialists

When you need a creative and detailed paint scheme applied on your aircraft, where can you find a team with the skill and drive to complete it beautifully?

Paint master specialists Troy Reinke and Stacy Finch were excited to take on this large aircraft paint project. The custom paint scheme commissioned by artist Wilfrid Buch with countless lines swirling around the fuselage to create a psychedelic 3D image required talent, patience and detail few paint technicians possess.

For the rest of the story visit:

Curt Campbell

Curt Campbell, Duncan Aviation Avionoics Tech Rep

Meet Curt

Your autopilot malfunctions mid-flight. Who can help you troubleshoot and express deliver a loaner to meet you upon arrival? Duncan Aviation’s components tech reps.

Curt Campbell has been a components tech rep for Duncan Aviation for 28 years, and he has nearly 40 years in the industry. So when he gets a phone call from someone in-flight with an issue, he walks them through the troubleshooting process as if he were in the copilot seat himself.

For the rest of the story

Meet Shirley

Shirley Crouch

Shirley Crouch, Duncan Aviation Parts and Rotables Sales Rep.

When it’s late in the evening on a Saturday and you need a part, who can you call?

When a customer in Spain had to be up and running in less than 24 hours, her experience led her to believe customs might cause a delay. So she opted to have a courier hand-carry the part to ensure all customs requirements were addressed along the way, reducing the AOG time from days to just hours.

For the rest of the story visit:

Duncan Aviation Core Values

Because Duncan Aviation team members work in a culture where honesty, integrity and doing the right thing is the norm, many think their extraordinary efforts were just part of the job—a testament to how incredible the teams are.

To read more stories about the day in the life of a Duncan Aviation team member, visit:

View Duncan Aviation's Core Value video and watch as team members express why the company's Core Values resonate so much with their teams and how they can be seen in every aspect of their workday.

We Are Duncan Aviation

Tags: Announcements, Careers & Recruiting, Customer Service

Duncan Aviation Celebrates 50 Years in Lincoln, Nebraska

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Thu, Dec 05, 2013 @ 01:09 PM

A half a century is certainly a benchmark, especially in the modern aviation industry, which isn’t much older. It was on December 5, 1963, that Donald Duncan incorporated Duncan Beechcraft-Lincoln. Though the name has changed, the number of locations has grown, and the 12 original employees have turned into more than 1,240, one thing remains the same: Duncan Aviation-level quality.

Today we celebrate 50 years in Lincoln, Nebraska. Help us to congratulate the 1,240 dedicated Duncan Aviation team members that made it possible.

How many names do you recognize?

 Duncan Aviation Celebrates 50 years in Lincoln, Nebraska

Tags: Announcements, Careers & Recruiting

Duncan Aviation Receives Nebraska’s Governor’s Wellness Award

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 @ 10:38 AM

Contributed by Tori Pallas, Wellness Coordinator

Duncan Aviation receives Governor's Wellness Award

L to R: Tonya Vyhlidal, Nebraska WorkWell Director; Laurie Klosterboer, ED Nebraska Safety Council; Tori Pallas, Duncan Aviation; Governor Dave Heineman, Chief Medical Director Jospeh Acierno NE-DHHS.

In 1999, Duncan Aviation informally started its Wellness Program by opening a fitness room in its Lincoln, Nebraska, facility that was ran and maintained entirely by employees volunteering their time. Then in 2001, staff was added and more formal programming began. Today, Duncan Aviation is a certified Platinum Well Workplace and has two full-time wellness staff members, two state-of-the-art fitness facilities and several wellness programs and services available to all Duncan Aviation employees at every location. There is a culture of wellness that permeates the entire company and encourages healthy lifestyle choices that not only benefit us as team members, but our families and the communities in which we live.

The results of our efforts to promote worksite health and make wellness a priority in the lives of our team members has been recognized and honored many times at both of Duncan Aviation’s full-service facilities in Battle Creek, Michigan, and Lincoln, Nebraska. On October 16 during a luncheon at the WorkWell and Nebraska Safety Council in Lincoln, Nebraska, Duncan Aviation was again awarded the Governor’s Wellness Award at the Grower Level from Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman.

This award recognizes Nebraska employers who have developed successful models for encouraging wellness at work. Factors considered for the award included the level of support for the program by company leaders, assessment of employee needs, wellness plan design, outcomes and benefits and policies supporting healthy behaviors, as well as, providing employees with health education, health screenings and opportunities for exercise.

I had the honor to attend and accept the award on behalf of Duncan Aviation, our Senior Management Team who so generously supports all of the programs, and most importantly on behalf of my team members who are engaged in their wellness and make the workplace an enjoyable and thriving environment.

Duncan Aviation Wellness Programs and Services

The following programs and services are available to Duncan Aviation employees and their spouses:

  • Duncan Aviation Family Health Centers staffed by on-site physician assistant and nurse practitioner in both Battle Creek, Michigan, and Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Free health consultations, fitness assessments, group stretching, personal training and nutritional analysis.
  • 24 hour, state-of-the-art fitness facilities in both Battle Creek, Michigan, and Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Onsite instructed fitness classes.
  • Health club membership reimbursements.
  • Flu shots.
  • Continuum Employee Assistance Program.
  • Free annual health screenings.
  • Medical insurance premium discounts based on results from annual health screening for participating in screenings and remaining tobacco free.
  • Monthly health and wellness newsletters.
  • Wellness intranet website.

Tori Pallas is the wellness coordinator at Duncan Aviation’s Lincoln, Nebraska, facility. She is instrumental in the development and facilitation of the wellness programs and services available to Duncan Aviation’s employees and their families. 

Tags: Announcements, Careers & Recruiting, Community

Todd Duncan: Where the Past, Present and Future Converge

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

Robert and Todd Duncan

Todd Duncan with his father Robert, Chairman Emeritus.

Being a part of a multi-generational family-owned company makes a person well aware of the sacrifice and effort of those who came before him. This lesson is not lost on Todd Duncan, Duncan Aviation’s Chairman and the third generation of the Duncan family to assume the helm.

Todd grew up watching his grandfather, Donald Duncan work hard to create and foster the growth of a small Beechcraft dealership, buying and selling aircraft from the middle of the United States. He then worked for and alongside his father, Chairman Emeritus Robert Duncan, as the company continued to grow and transition from aircraft sales to service maintenance. It was in 2007 when Todd assumed the role as Chairman of Duncan Aviation and took over the leadership of the company. Today, Duncan Aviation is the largest family-owned business aviation MRO in the world, servicing customers around the globe. 

Todd knows that the foundation upon which Duncan Aviation was built began well before his grandfather bought his first aircraft. It started with the innovation and perseverance of a pair of brothers who wouldn’t give up and learn lessons from mistakes and setbacks, until they took to the skies for the very first successful sustained flight.  

On a trip to North Carolina, Todd stopped by the Wright Brothers’ National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. You can read his personal account of the trip and how aviation’s history has affected his role at Duncan Aviation in the Fall 2013 issue of the Duncan Debrief.

You can read about Donald Duncan and the history of Duncan Aviation is the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Duncan Debrief written in 2006. 

Tags: Careers & Recruiting, Community

Duncan Aviation Creates a Path for Future Leaders

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Submitted by Steve Gade, VP of sales and marketing

NBAA Leadership class

Jeannine Falter, Duncan Aviation Vice President of Business Development, conducts a class on leadership at NBAA 2013.

It may sound cliché, but every employee at Duncan Aviation is a member of the family, a fast growing family. And because many of our current employees will help to shape the future course of Duncan Aviation, we find it important to go the extra mile to make sure our people are empowered to do the right thing, and have access to training to enhance their expertise and advancement opportunities.

In order to accommodate our growth at Duncan Aviation, while continuously supporting and strengthening our culture and service to our customers, it became evident that investing in personal and leadership development within our own ranks was simply the right thing to do. Our approach was to create a program called Leadership Dynamics that immerses approximately 25 team members from across all areas and locations of the business into three intense two-day off-site sessions that spanned three months. Every year since 2005, we’ve held several classes facilitated by members of the Duncan Aviation Senior Management Team.

Based on feedback we’ve heard from attendees, the course has been well received and beneficial from a personal, family, as well as a professional perspective. An addition bonus benefit has been the executives and team members getting to know each other on a much more personal level.

There has been interest expressed in briefings with customers and discussions with Duncan Aviation Advisory Board members in having this type of leadership development exported to a wider audience. As a result, we boiled down some of the key concepts into a 60-minute NBAA leadership class led by myself and two other members of Duncan Aviation’s senior management team. This class is offered from 9-10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Our objective is simply to prime the pump and introduce leaders in our industry to the concept that the soft stuff is important stuff and does not have to be the hard stuff.

For more information, please visit Duncan Aviation at booth #C8543 at NBAA 2013 held Oct. 22-24 in Las Vegas, or watch for announcements at

Steve Gade, Duncan Aviation’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, provides leadership and strategic direction to enterprise marketing and communications, Aircraft Sales and Acquisition's services and sales and production in the areas of accessory, avionics and instruments, avionics satellites and parts and components. His aviation career began in 1991.

Tags: Conventions & Exhibitions, Announcements, Careers & Recruiting

Intern Experience at Duncan Aviation is Mutually Beneficial

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 @ 02:01 PM

Duncan Aviation Intern Program

Alec Schau, Intern from the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program at Western Michigan University College of Aviation, working on a Global in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Each year, Duncan Aviation opens its doors to a class of summer interns to allow students to learn more about the company and possible career paths they’re interested in pursuing. The program also provides Duncan Aviation with an opportunity to meet potential future team members.

"The intern program has been very effective at streamlining our recruiting program. We've developed relationships with a variety of schools in the community and have been able to identify certain programs that generate graduates with the same skills and values we're looking for in a new team member,” says Paul David, Human Resources manager.

In 2013, interns spanned a variety of departments, including Human Resources, Information Technology, Research/Development, Marketing Communications, Engine and Airframe.

“One of the goals of the program is to help the interns determine whether or not this is a career they’re passionate about, and often they don’t know until they are involved in day-to-day activities,” says David. “Here, our interns get hands-on experience.”

The majority of Duncan Aviation’s interns said they hope to continue down the same education path in hopes of earning a full-time position after their internship.

Kurt Daniels, an Airframe intern, is currently majoring in Aviation Maintenance at Western Nebraska Community College and says he enjoyed the wide variety of aircraft on which he was able to complete smaller tasks while shadowing quality Duncan Aviation team member workmanship on major jobs. He says he worked on gear swings, gear lube, panel installation and sealant application.

“I felt like I had so much to learn and that I was much too slow to keep up with the other guys. I guess that’s just part of the experience. You have to start somewhere,” says Daniels.

Duncan Aviation is always interested in skilled talent, attending career fairs and recruiting events throughout the year. Openings for summer interns are posted on the Duncan Aviation Careers website, usually in February or March. 

Tags: Careers & Recruiting

Meet Gary Harpster: AEA’s New Chairman of the Board

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Wed, May 08, 2013 @ 03:50 PM

Reproduced with permission from Avionics News, May 2013

Gary Harpster - AEA Chairman of the Board

Gary Harpster of Duncan Aviation addresses the Aircraft Electronics Association membership for the first time as chair of the board at the 2013 AEA International Convention & Trade Show in Las Vegas.

At the 2013 Aircraft Electronics Association International Convention & Trade Show, Gary Harpster of Duncan Aviation was elected as the new chair of the AEA board of directors. Recently, Patricia Luebke, Avionics News contributor, spoke with Harpster to learn more about his background and aspirations as AEA’s newest chairman.

What does being AEA’s chair of the board of directors mean to you?

One thing I’ve learned throughout the years is that people assimilate new information in a multitude of different fashions. I’ve always prided myself at being able to listen and not form any opinions until the final person has spoken. I hope I can use this characteristic in this new role. The AEA has been working hard to become a sound resource for accurate aviation information, so when we convey a message to the members, we need to be conscious about how it’s perceived. The AEA has a good track record, and I want to build on that.

Do you have a specific agenda in your new leadership role?

I’m not so sure I have a specific agenda, as much as a desire to contribute 110 percent of whatever is asked of me during this time. There are lots of different avenues a person could delve into, but I want to make sure the board supports a coordinated effort that returns the most benefit to the AEA members. I know one effort will be to introduce members to the various committees the AEA has and encourage more members to find a topic of interest and serve on a related committee. It is vital that we continue to seek opinions, network with each other and become more involved in our industry and its future.

Is there a particular area that interests you as chairman?

Duncan Aviation is the largest privately held MRO (maintenance repair and overhaul) facility in the world, so we not only work on a large variety of aircraft on a daily basis, we have worldwide exposure, as well. I’m hoping I can pass on ideas for other facilities to consider as work opportunities and/or solutions. Right now, the AEA has a great relationship with the FAA, so I’d like to get a chance to contribute ideas that would allow our members to do what they enjoy with a less cumbersome bureaucracy and, hopefully, fewer paperwork challenges

What is your background?

I grew up next to Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb. We lived about 3 miles from the airport, so whenever there was an opportunity, my sister and I would ride our bikes by the airfield and wait on the approach end of the runway for aircraft to pass overhead. As soon as they were right on top of us, we would stand up and let the prop blast blow us down the hill. This avionics was in the early 1960s, long before we had the security we have today. We would come home smelling like kerosene that permeated our clothes, so my mother knew right away where we’d been. I still can’t help but look up every time a plane passes overhead.

Click here to read Patricia Luebke’s complete interview with Gary Harpster.

Tags: Avionics & Instruments, Avionics Installation, Conventions & Exhibitions, Careers & Recruiting


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