I interviewed Kelly Dockrell who discussed Logistics of Keeping the Planes in the Sky.
Today we're speaking with Kelly Dockrell, and we’re going to discuss Logistics of Keeping the Planes in the Sky. So, Kelly, can you first provide a brief background of yourself?
Yeah, absolutely. I went away to college up in Buffalo, New York, and probably like most college students, I didn't know what I wanted to do for a profession. And I was actually going to get into pharmaceutical sales, being that my father was a pharmacist and his wife was the vice president of McKesson. So they said, "You go away to college. You get good grades, a good degree, and then you'll move into a pharmaceutical sales position." Well, low and behold, I knew that the students that were coming out of college weren't getting hired for sales positions because they didn't have any experience. So I took a part-time job working at a freight forwarder in Miami, and all I did all day was read bill ladings and then call them on the accounts to try to find out where they ship from.
The beginning stages of my career in transportation was primarily Asia to the US, ocean containers. And then during that time, we were teaching the customers in Miami that rather than import into the US and then re-export to Latin America, we could do the foreign to foreign.
And a couple of years went by. I was recruited to work for Eagle Global Logistics, and it was actually during the time that Eagle became CEVA. So one I started with CEVA, I realized that they didn't have very competitive ocean rates compared to what I was used to. So, low and behold, I started calling on accounts, just old accounts. And I started in the A's. And it was aircraft and engine parts, AAR, aviation accessories, aviation inflatables — just starting with the A's. And I realized that aviation and aerospace was a lot bigger of an opportunity to make money because most of the material that has to ship internationally or even domestically is expedited, and it's heavy, and it's got to go via air.
I started calling on the aviation accounts, and slowly but surely, throughout the years, I've been accepted into the so-called aviation fraternity. And know I solely focus on anybody that would either repair an aircraft or an airlines that actually, that can't put materials on their own passenger aircrafts. I work with leasing companies, anybody that would lease an aircraft engine, parts, trading, and I work with companies all over the world at this point.
Can you talk about what'sinvld with the logistics of keeping planes in the sky?
One of the biggest terms that you hear thrown around in aviation is the term AOG, and that stands for aircraft on ground. So any time that there's a part missing or a part that's broken, you need to get that part — which could be an aircraft engine, it could be wheel, brakes, just about anything. But as long as that aircraft is sitting, that airline is just losing thousands of dollars every minute.
My job would be to pick up whatever that piece is coming from and get it there as quickly and safely as possible. In some cases, you actually have to charter an entire aircraft to get maybe a couple wheels from Miami going down to Bogota, just to make sure that aircraft flies.
The other part of it is that there's a lot of companies that do aircraft engine leasing. They'll lease the engine to an airline, and in some cases, where that engine's picking up. It could be anywhere in the world. So it's my job to pick up that engine and ship it properly. And we're talking, an aircraft engine could average $3 million. So you have to ship it properly. Get it there. You've got odd places, like Sharjah. We do a lot into Singapore, Amsterdam...
The other part of it is shipping parts. So a lot of the times, these companies will send their parts overseas to get repaired. There's a large repair facilities in Europe, and especially if you have to do repairs or even if you have to tear down an aircraft engine, most of the work is done overseas just due to pricing.
There's really not a limit on who I would call on in the aviation market. And in most cases somebody is working with partners overseas. So it's a lot of international business, a lot of international airfreight. And obviously, with airfreight, there's a lot more opportunity to make money.
Is there any more that you could say about how to do this successfully?
Oh, absolutely. I came from a large company. So CEVA, at the time, was like the 4th largest freight forwarder in the world. We had 1000 offices, and we didn't specialize in the aviation vertical. So, for instance, when you're moving an aircraft engine that's serviceable, that you're going to put on an aircraft, there's a lot of different components that you have make sure that the driver that picks up the engine understands.
One of the biggest issues is picking up an aircraft engine that has to be on an air-ride-equipped truck. You also have to tarp it. You have to strap it properly. And if any one of those components is done wrong, you're putting the engine at risk for... The bearings with get damaged due to the travel without being on an air-ride-equipped truck. We've had an engine that has actually hit bridge on the way to being installed on an aircraft just because the driver didn't know what he was doing.
If you're dealing with aircraft engines going overseas, you really have to know the laws of trading with that country, having the proper certificates. When you're shipping aircraft engines, it's important to understand that they do have oils, and they do have fuel residues, so to speak, 'sand you have to make sure that that engines purged of all oil and gas. By completing a purge document, then you're able to fly it on a passenger aircraft as non-hazmat.
Working for a smaller company, it's easier from my end to train my operations people to understand exactly how you need to handle specific pieces. Of course, there's a lot of lingo, just as in logistics and transportation that goes along. For instance, AOG is one term. There are different parts, so you have an APU, which is an auxiliary power unit. There's obviously all different types of engines. And just getting a pretty standard basis of what each company does in terms of either repairing the engine, trading the engine, tearing down the engine for scrap parts, you really have to understand what component that that customer has in terms of where they stand on their needs or their wants or their expectations. And everybody is different.
Thanks. Do you have any final recommendations?
Recently, I was asked to be a guest speaker at the largest university for aeronautical in the world, which is Embry-Riddle. And one of the reasons why is because the are very few women that are involved in aviation these days. I spoke on behalf of myself, being one of very few women in transportation, but also now, one of the very few women in aviation. I tell these women to go after the job that requires travel. I just tell them to go after the jobs, that they might want to be an engineer or a salesperson. And it might be male dominated, but you just have to go for it. I'd love to see more women in aviation. I'd love to see more women in transportation. And now is the time. Now is the time to step up and get in there.
Well thanks for sharing today, Kelly.
About Kelly Dockrell
Aviation/Aerospace Transportation/Logistics Expert - Speaker at Embry-Riddle & Broward College - Philanthropist