At TS Bank we believe that a community is only as strong as its local businesses. This is why we have made it one of our top priorities to spotlight local businesses in Southwest, Iowa. This week we are featuring Advanced Air, located in Council Bluffs.
Who are the owners of the business? Tell us about yourself.
Lisa LaMantia. I have been married for almost ten years, and my husband and I have two sons; one in kindergarten at Treynor, one in pre-school. I have been working at Advanced Air and Council Bluffs for 23 years. I started working at Advanced Air as the front desk receptionist and have worked my way up, now with a pilot’s license. Since my beginning, the business has grown from a sleepy old airport to the 5th busiest airport in the state of Iowa with one of the largest flight schools! I love that every day is different and enjoy the customers at the airport.
How many employees do you have?
We currently have 33 employees.
Why did you want to own a business in Council Bluffs, Iowa?
The Council Bluffs airport was chosen because of its location. We are close to I-80 and I-29 in case our employees or clients have to drive a propeller to the airport for repair. Also, the runway was long enough to accommodate planes that would need to fly-in to get repairs.
What do you like most about the community?
I like that the Council Bluffs community is so supportive. When we had an open house for the addition of our new Avionics department I was overwhelmed by the turnout we had for our ribbon cutting.
How are you personally involved in the community?
I’m very involved with the youth in our community and I host tours often. Advanced Air invites junior high students to come in the fall or spring for a six-week after-school program to teach them about careers in aviation and promote the assets in this community, such as the airport and how Iowa Western Community College that can help them become a pilot or aircraft mechanic.
Where is your business located? What are your hours?
We are located at the Council Bluffs Airport, at 101 McCandless Lane, Ste 1, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, right off of Highway 6 & McPherson by the old Martin’s Apple Orchard which is now ABC electric. One of the struggles we face is that a lot of people have no knowledge of Council Bluffs airport and what we provide to the community.
What services do you offer?
Flight school, aircraft rental and plane rides, maintenance, charter flights, avionics, calibration, computer testing, 100LL & Jet A Fuel, pilot supplies and charts.
What do you offer that other businesses similar to you can’t?
We are a 141 FAA approved Flight school. We can save someone up to 500 hours of flying (depending on the situation). We offer affordable charter planes that are less expensive than large turbo-props or jets for customers that only have 2-5 passengers traveling. We are the only avionics shop in a 60-mile radius, and we have an experienced staff at the maintenance shop with reasonable rates. We also have an exclusive deal with Envoy airlines for pilot job placement.
We are selling airplane rides for $83. Up to three people can fly as long as the total weight does not exceed 450 lbs.
Any plans for the future?
Last year we became a FAA Repair Station for Avionics, as well as a Cessna Service Center and Garmin dealer. We plan to continue to grow our avionics shop, attract additional customers to stop in to buy gas. In the future, we hope to expand our maintenance to get into the turbine market.
Are you open to suggestions?
Yes – most definitely. Suggestions are always appreciated.
Where do you want your business to be in five years?
Our goal to be the 4th busiest airport in Iowa. This could be brought in by additional traffic of people flying in to get avionics done, transient traffic flying in to get fuel, and continued growth with the flight school and maintenance.
Give your best pitch for why people should choose to shop local.
When you choose a local shop you keep your money in the community, which benefits everyone. Convenience and distance are two key points that encourage people to shop local. When it comes to our field – aviation - it’s best to choose local because you can save a substantial amount of money. Other flight schools around the country often times charge three times more than we do and at the end of the day, you receive the exact same license. The cost of living is much lower so if someone is doing their pilot training it keeps their cost down on housing, compared to flight schools in California and Florida.
When it comes to maintenance, choosing local can again save you money. Ferrying a plane a long distance to get maintenance can be very expensive and take up a lot of time. Choosing a local shop where you can build a relationship is important. This ensures each other’s needs and expectations are understood. Lastly, buying local helps the community with jobs, and increases revenue from taxes (whether it’s sales tax, payroll taxes, etc.).
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