In the late 1980s when I was interested in pursuing a flying career my first step was to talk to as many pilots as I could. By tracking down friends-of-friends, I’d find people who could give me advice and I’d go visit with them. These folks were great at giving me ideas on different ways to pursue a career in flying. After each talk I’d get a little 4×8 card and write their names on it and little pieces of information that would help me remember our conversation and what advice they gave me. Using that information, I’d talk to the next person and say “this has been suggested to me, what do you think?” I probably talked to 15-20 pilots over a 2 year span before I made my decision to attend Bolivar International School of Aeronautics.
While I was in flight school I’d send postcards to all of those pilots I’d talked to, apprising them of my progress. One day, I got a letter back from one of those pilots, Kevin Beattie, offering me a job at Business Air Inc if I could leave school early to help the company get through the busy holiday package delivering season – I could continue to complete my aviation schooling after that. I accepted and left Tennessee as soon as I finished my commercial license to become a first officer in a C-47 ( a military DC-3).
Through Mr. Beattie, I also got a job at the Aviation Education Center to be a flight instructor after I earned my instructor certification. I did work as a full-time Flight Instructor, while flying with Business Air. I still keep in touch with Kevin Beattie and several of the others who I interviewed.
Now, when I’m farming, I still like to talk to people to learn new things and to tell them about my farm. Word of mouth has always worked for me when I’m selling hay, syrup or services. I like having that interaction and hearing about other people’s lives, work and personalities. I don’t keep index cards anymore, but I still try to remember all of my customers.
This blog also reminds me of back when I first started my career – these posts are a lot like those postcards I sent in flight school, keeping everyone updated about what’s happening in my life and occasionally getting a job offer because I’ve stayed in touch.
While I really like having conversations and staying connected by telling stories about the farm and flying, I’m paying more attention to the business side of these connections than I used to. I’ve worked with the Farm Viability Enhancement Program for two years now to get more focused on my marketing strategy. I needed a way to get out basic information about Under Orion Farm and Catamount Aviation without taking an hour to chat about it. And I needed to reach more new people than I could reach simply through friend-of-a-friend connections.
I think that one answer to my dilemma is websites. Last week I launched a site for each one of my businesses. These simple websites were designed by Jennifer Boyer in East Montpelier. I’m still going to be doing this blog, it’s still a great way for you to hear the stories of life on Under Orion Farm. . . but the websites are going to be an important part of my business too. Check them out!
- Under Orion Farm: underorionfarm.com
- Catamount Aviation: catamountaviation.com
- Catamount Ashes Scattering: catamountashes.com