AgAir Update sits down with Thrush Aircraft’s President Mark McDonald on what’s the latest news since the ownership change of the company.
How long have you had the reins of Thrush Aircraft?
We acquired the assets of Thrush in early November, 2019, so just over a year and a half. We are halfway through a turnaround plan that covers just about everything – from operations to customer service to product enhancements and, most important, the culture of the company. We’ve had great support from customers, employees, dealers, and suppliers. We’ve already invested millions in inventory, product improvements, manufacturing equipment, and in people to help make this business even better. We have more to do, and the team here has a passion that is tangible. Every day we look forward to proving to our customers why they should have faith in us.
Over that time period, what are some major changes that have been implemented?
There have been so many positive improvements here at Thrush, it’s hard to pick the most significant ones. The company is on a firm foundation now, financially, operationally, and with our supply chain. We continue to improve the product, ramp up production volume, bring on new team members, expand service offerings, and improve everything we do. We’ve completed over 200 projects, some large, some small, and I’m sure we will implement another 200 over the next year and a half.
Of those changes, which ones are you the most excited about?
Over the next couple of months, we will be introducing new products and services to the industry. We told people at NAAA that we would be adding the PT6A-140AG to our product offerings. That is not the only new product or service planned for this year. In fact, we have five type certificate programs planned for this year.
In general, we are excited about how different the business feels. There is real momentum in every department within the business. The great people of Thrush are enthusiastic and anxious to deliver the promises we’ve made.
What has been the biggest challenge since you have been with Thrush?
The GE engine and service issues have been a significant concern for many of our customers. We are bringing options to the market that will help the current situation, but the damage was already done. There’s no perfect solution, but are working with customers to develop a better way forward.
The macro-economic environment has created some recent challenges. COVID has had a greater impact to the business this year compared to 2020. Some areas of our supply chain are struggling. Inflation is becoming a national issue and Thrush is being affected like everyone else. We are recruiting from around the country to fill positions in support our growth plan (resumes are welcome!).
Has your vision changed from when you first started until now?
No, not really. We knew we needed to learn a lot about the industry, the business, and our customers. What we’ve learned has helped fine-tune the vision, but not changed it significantly. We still think Thrush has a great future and just needed to be managed differently. Once we complete the turnaround plan in little over a year, I expect customers, dealers, employees, and suppliers will be impressed by Thrush’s capabilities, performance, and the new products and services we’ve brought to market.
What is the #1 goal of the Company, at this stage?
To exceed our customer’s expectations.
What does support for current and prospective owners look like?
Thrush always had a great product, but the company’s services weren’t up to the same standard. We’re focused on making sure that our spares, technical support, training, and aircraft quality are all world-class. The first line in our company culture statement says that we will make and keep commitments. We’re not perfect, but we’re striving to create an outstanding customer experience, so that we’re not only known for building great aircraft, but for supporting those aircraft better than any other manufacturer.
What else can you tell our readers that might answer some of their questions?
We’ve heard a few rumors that are untrue so let me provide some clarity. The company is not for sale. We have no activity right now in the military markets. We’re investing in the business and its products. We’re delivering aircraft to various locations around the world and still have slots available for delivery this year.
Any closing comments?
We can’t wait to unveil our new products and services to the marketplace and to work with existing and new customers to grow their operations. We’re sincerely grateful for everyone’s support over the past year and a half, and for all that’s been achieved. I can promise the next year and a half will be even better!
Wishing everyone a safe and productive spray season.