I was told how wonderful MAC was by employee Mike Schmidt. Mike and I have worked together in past jobs and MAC makes the third company that we have worked together at. We never planned it that way, it’s just how it worked out. Our last employer had sold a section of their business which, in turn, required more traveling for us and not as much quality of life. I stayed on with them a bit longer than Mike and was traveling a lot to places we operated from, but Arizona was becoming the norm. During this time, I stayed in contact with Mike. Co-workers asked me about how things were going for him since he had transitioned to another company. He told me how much he was loving the new place and how the people were interested in working with each other and working as a team to get things accomplished. I had expressed to him that I also preferred to work with people who were a good team and that I was happy for him. At this time, all the travel I was doing was starting to cause a little havoc with family life. I did an extended stay in Arizona in order to guarantee being home for Christmas through New Year’s. We had made that agreement and lined up the work and vacation time that way. That is not what ended up happening, instead, right after Christmas, they sent me to Canada, and I flew back home New Year’s Eve. In that very short window of getting home for Christmas and being told that I was going to Canada, Mike had invited me to stop by and see him at his new place.
Mountain Air Cargo was having their Christmas party that day and I ended up meeting Mike Bandalan, Hilary Patterson, and Mark Kershey. I also got to see some of the interactions between people. It seemed like an awesome environment to work in. Mike B. had given me a short synopsis of some of the business here and talked about the focus on the customer and employees. So did Hilary. She then started asking questions about me, my family, and knowing Mike S. One of the things that stood out to me that day was that the people here knew about each other. Not everyone was originally from here, but people knew where they were from. They knew each other’s history.
They knew just recently had children or major life event. Everyone told me how the company had been making huge changes in perspective and focus. That afternoon, Mike S. started nudging me and had told me that there were a couple of positions open at MAC. He highlighted some of the differences from the company we were previously at and its changes. Where we were was good, but the changes didn’t fit our lives.
Now I have a new team. We work together, we laugh and cut up and enjoy working together. We eat well, too. We know what is happening in each other’s lives. We help each other when a gap needs to be filled. That doesn’t just stay in the office. We are in touch with many people at many stations and we all come together for one goal and make strides to succeed. That makes a huge difference.
“I started with CSA Air in 1995. I came from the regional airlines, American Eagle. I needed a job back in Michigan to help my parents out because we had a family crisis, and I needed to be near my parents. The job turned out to be a really great fit for our family. Back in those days, they were just switching the paint jobs on the Caravans and the jets over from Federal Express to FedEx. Rob Norton hired me back in those days when he was general manager and others in the office thought that this airline guy wasn’t going to stick around long. Boy were they wrong! I had a job where I could be at home during the day with my family all day long and even homeschool my kids. I was only gone at night to fly to Grand Rapids and then back first thing in the morning. Weekends off, holidays too! I didn’t get that at the airlines!
At a certain point, I was made a base manager at Grand Rapids. The FedEx employee group on the ramp was very active, trying to build team spirit and togetherness. They would have potlucks just about every week. We pilots would show up with nothing in our hands, but they would let us eat as much as we wanted to at all of their functions. After a while, I thought we should do something in return. So every Christmas holiday I would get together a giant spread of the best food. Shrimp, roast beef, homemade bread, salmon dip, the works! The ramp people absolutely loved it. Rob Norton said just give me the bill and I’ll pay for all of it. It brought a lot of Goodwill with the ramp, and we thoroughly enjoyed reciprocating all of their kindness in the form of food! Our holiday food spread became a fixture every Christmas , and they all looked forward to it.
I learned how important it was to build good relationships with our customer, FedEx, back then. There was another ramp in our system, where they seemed to always be at odds with the FedEx personnel on the ramp. I didn’t want that kind of thing happening in Grand Rapids. So we worked to get along and work out any differences or misunderstandings right away so that they didn’t fester into big problems later. It was such a pleasant work environment that even the FedEx pilots flying the AirBus and 757’s coming through the base would tell the ramp that it was one of their favorite places to go. After flying the Caravan for 21 years for CSA, I made the decision in 2016 to switch over to Mountain Air to fly the ATR. What a completely different experience! As a floater, I pretty much go everywhere. From Duluth, to Bismarck, to Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Jamaica, and even Tallahassee ; ) We have lots of options and opportunities within our company so that you can choose what suits you and your family best. Over the years, I have found that both CSA and Mountain Air are very much family oriented companies. They really do appreciate what you do for them and try to help you out as much as possible when you need it. I have come to know a few of the field administrators for FedEx and this attitude comes through from them also. So, to sum it up, I’ve been involved for a total of 28 of the 50 years that FedEx has been in existence. It’s been a great ride so far. Congratulations to FedEx for coming this far and doing so well. Let’s hope for many more years and many more opportunities and great experiences to come!”
When I started at MAC in 1991, the Caravan runs seemed consistent, serving the needs of the smaller towns. It was a fun job to fly the plane for a while. The F/O’s in the F-27s had it tough…only part of a weekend and only 2 days off per month. There were lots of pilots looking for a secure job with an airline. Small airports had one or two full time instructors building time, and sometimes 5 or more part time instructors. Competition to “break into” the field, to get a salary from an airline, was difficult.
Now, today at MAC, there is a path from the Caravan to the left seat of a Boeing or Airbus at FedEx, for those who want the lifestyle and can follow through with the steps to obtain it. This is an opportunity that did not exist before, and I applaud FedEx and MAC for recognizing the talent and “insider” experience and knowledge MAC feeder pilots have acquired in the freight business. I encourage those entering the field to seriously consider this opportunity and not take it for granted. When you’re on a good track, opportunities open up one way or the other. So….ignore the naysayers, stay the course, and keep the faith!
My name is Allan Franco. As a little kid I always wanted to fly airplanes, the notion of being up in the air always captivated me. Five years ago, Mountain Air Cargo gave me my first real airline job as a Part 135 Captain flying the Cessna Caravan out of SJU for the Caribbean theater of operations. I always admired going on the boat into the British Virgin Islands and seeing the FedEx Feeder Aircraft landing at Tortola airport. I always wondered what it would be like to island hop, and in 2018 I got my chance fly to the islands in a Caravan. Since the beginning at MAC, I felt that I was always part of a team and part of an extended family. When MAC transitioned out of SJU, I had to stay because of family situation. 1 year passed after the transition and I was so glad to see that MAC came back to SJU, this time to stay. Now I’m flying the ATR 42/72 out of BQN, and I can honestly say that my bond with the whole MAC family never went away. In fact, in grew even stronger. I can honestly tell you that we may have ups and downs as a company and in our personal lives, but our unity never fails.
For me MAC is more than a company, for me MAC is family.
MAC also has strong commitments in the areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as Environmental Sustainability.
5930 Balsom Ridge Road
Denver, NC 28037
Tel (828) 464-8741