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Family business a second choice for some

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, June 15, 2013, at 11:26 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 15, 2013, at 11:36 p.m.

When Yingling Aviation owner Lynn Nichols sent his son and daughter off to college, he quietly wondered whether, someday, either would want to work at the company that provides services for general aviation aircraft.

“As a parent, in the back of your mind, you wonder. ... You don’t want to push them if they don’t.”

Nichols didn’t push, and eventually his children did want to join him..

Nichols oldest child, Andrew, joined the fixed-base operator at Mid-Continent Airport in 2009, after being caught in Cessna Aircraft’s layoffs.

His daughter, Lynnsey Theademan, joined the company in 2011.

“It’s fun for me,” Nichols said. “It’s one thing to raise them. It’s another thing to see them grow and develop in their careers.”

Andrew Nichols earned a degree in business management at Kansas State University and upon graduation went to work at Cessna. He said Cessna put him to work in the finance department and paid his tuition to earn a finance degree at Wichita State University. He said his plan was to “make my own way” in aviation.

“It was never my intent to come knocking on the door,” Andrew Nichols said.

But he did end up knocking on Yingling’s door. And Nichols put his son through a management training program Yingling developed and which, over three years, took Andrew through all aspects of the company. Last fall, Andrew was promoted to vice president of finance.

Lynnsey graduated from Emporia State University in 2010 with a degree in health promotion and a minor in business. She wanted to work in corporate wellness after graduation but ended up at Oasis Staffing. Then a position came open in Yingling’s service department. “I was more interested in that than what I was currently doing,” she said of her move to Yingling. Today, she is a management trainee and customer service manager.

“I still have a long ways to go, but I enjoy working there,” Theademan said.

She and Andrew said working at Yingling doesn’t change their family dynamics.

That might be because Nichols installed what he calls a “firewall.” Lynnsey and Andrew have their own bosses to whom they report – not him. And if a work issue arises at a family event, Nichols said he reminds them that they have someone else to discuss that with.

“I have to be respectful to the org(anization) chart,” Nichols said. “I don’t want to undermine the managers.”

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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