It’s fitting that Aviation Business International operates in the site that once housed Travel Air Manufacturing Co., the 1925 planemaker started by Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna and Lloyd Stearman.
ABI’s customers include Beechcraft, Cessna Aircraft, Boeing and others, such as Spirit AeroSystems, Airbus, Embraer and Bombardier.
It also serves major airlines, such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United, Lufthansa and Air France.
“It’s got good karma,” said James Havers-Strong, founding partner and managing director of The ABI Group of Companies.
In January, Havers-Strong, 43, was chosen by Pipeline for an entrepreneurial fellowship program, a year-long business leadership development program that helps companies grow.
“They’re trying to bump you to another level,” he said.
Havers-Strong was selected as one of Pipeline’s 2014 Class of Entrepreneurial Fellows.
ABI, located at 535 W. Douglas, was founded by Havers-Strong in 2010.
It was launched as a maintenance provider servicing smaller to mid-size airline operators with contract labor and support programs.
It has since undergone a transformation. Its biggest business today is its composite repair kits sold to major airlines and its aerospace abrasive products sold to manufacturers.
It also supplies other consumables, such as ultrasonic knives.
One of ABI’s fastest growing areas is its import-export business, helping manufacturers buy and ship products overseas. ABI deals with the duty, import tax and shipping requirements.
It’s also in the midst of expanding its chemical division, supplying aerospace coatings.
ABI is growing rapidly, tripling its growth year over year, Havers-Strong said.
The company is working with attorney Harvey Sorensen with Foulston-Siefkin and Equity Bank to help with its growth.
Havers-Strong was born in Chester, England, and went to school in the United Kingdom.
He graduated from City University London and completed the brokers exam.
He then worked as a broker for Lloyd’s of London before joining the aviation industry – an interest developed through his mother, a pilot.
Havers-Strong earned his pilot’s license at age 24.
He’s spent 21 years in the aerospace industry, first working for an aircraft brokerage firm in the U.K. buying and selling airplanes.
He then joined an aerospace coatings business.
Havers-Strong came to the United States in 1999 to join HSH Aerospace Finishes in California, then moved to Arkansas with DuPont Aviation.
He came to the Wichita area to serve as global sales director for aerospace coatings with Sherwin-Williams Aerospace in Andover, then went on to form his own business.
“We took a huge leap of faith,” Havers-Strong said.
The company employs nine in Wichita and two in Tulsa.
He and his wife, Dominique, have three children, ages 20, 18 and 11.
When not working, he likes spending quality time with his family.
“You have to have that balance,” he said. “We work bloody hard here.”