Business Q & A

October 31, 2013

5 questions with Jason White

When Jason White returned to Wichita after playing professional baseball for four years, he decided to join the aviation industry.

When Jason White returned to Wichita after playing professional baseball for four years, he decided to join the aviation industry.

He’s held positions at Boeing, Bombardier Learjet and Beechcraft Corp., and last year joined Aero-Mach Labs as general manager.

In December, White will become president of Aero-Mach, succeeding current president Chuck Perkins. Perkins will become the company’s executive director of business development and help with the transition.

The change is part of a long-term succession plan.

White, 43, grew up in Midwest City, Okla., near Tinker Air Force Base, watching airplanes fly overhead.

“I never really thought I’d work in the industry,” White said. “It’s funny how things worked out.”

White headed to Wichita in the early 1990s to play baseball at Wichita State University under former coach Gene Stephenson at a time the team made regular appearances at the College World Series.

“It was a fun time,” White said.

He was drafted by the Oakland A’s to play first base.

In 1996, White left baseball and returned to Wichita, where interviewers at Boeing liked his discipline and offered him a job as a buyer in procurement.

“That’s how it started,” White said. “I got my foot in the door.”

After buying machined parts and sheet metal assemblies from local companies while at Boeing, White accepted a management position at Bombardier Learjet in material planning. He then spent 10 years at Beechcraft, where he served as director of supply chain before being recruited by Aero-Mach last year.

Aero-Mach is a manufacturer and repair facility for aircraft instruments and fuel system components. It employs 120 people at its headquarters at 7707 E. Funston.

White, who has a business degree from WSU, has two children, Kennison, 14, and Carson, 11. When not working, he coaches youth sports and is involved in community events. He likes to play golf.

Q. 1 You worked at three large aircraft companies before joining a smaller supplier. What kind of change does the size difference make?

A. (With a small company) the good thing is the decisions you make can be felt immediately. The bad thing is if you don’t make the right decisions, they can be felt immediately as well.

Q. 2 It’s been five years since the general aviation industry headed into a downturn. How is business today for you?

A. I think obviously in 2008 and 2009, everybody suffered if you were in general aviation. … We started to see upticks in the market with our production work, which is a good sign because that means the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are starting to build more aircraft. From a repair and overhaul standpoint, we’ve seen business pretty flat for the last couple of years. … I don’t know if we’ll ever see days like we did in the early 2000s. We’re definitely hoping to see those days again, but planning for the new normal.

Q. 3 What’s your management style?

A. I would describe it more as an influencer versus a controller. A good leader knows how to influence decisions versus controlling them and creating an environment for the team to be successful.

Q. 4 What is your plan going forward for the business?

A. Our focus as a business going forward will be diversifying our markets that we support today by expanding our product lines as well as looking for growth internally as well as through potential acquisitions.

Q. 5 What is one thing not many people know about you?

A. I love ’70s music. I have two older sisters that are 10 and 13 years older than I am. I was brainwashed as a child.

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