Mooney And Mentoring
By Aleta Vinas ANN Correspondent
When Gretchen Jahn
became CEO of Mooney Airplane Company in Kerrville, (TX) nine
months ago, the company had about 140 employees. Mooney, formed
almost six decades ago had been through bankruptcy and had dwindled
to 14 employees only a few years ago. In the months since Jahn took
the reins, Mooney has added a second shift, increased employee
count 93% and sold out of airplanes for 2005.
Jahn had some reservations on joining Mooney. She talked to
former executives and others. The consensus was that Mooney was "a
great company." She wasn't quite convinced. What sold Jahn
was the tour of the facilities and the workers. "This company had
the will." Jahn saw she had the fighters and made the
decision to give the leadership and guidance the troops needed. As
Al Nitchman, Mooney's Vice-President of Customer Support said, "We
are really running at full throttle."
No stranger to leading a company, since her 20's, Jahn has
formed companies, alone and with partners, lead them to success and
started again. She learned much from mentors early on in her career
and is giving back by mentoring at Mooney. In addition, Mooney
supports the Young Eagles Program.
Recently Jahn was asked to join Women Soar. The new program aims
to recruit and educate young women on the possibilities open to
them in aviation. Jahn was guest of honor at the opening dinner
Sunday at AirVenture.
As the keynote speaker for Women Soar at the EAA Museum on
Monday, Jahn encouraged women "young and old to pursue their
dreams." She joined other successful women in the aviation
field to talk to the young girls in the auditorium. Joining Jahn is
Julie Clark -- airshow pilot, Dr. Bonnie Dunbar - former astronaut,
Dorothy Cochrane - one of the curators for the National Air and
Space Museum, Dr. Peggy Chabrian - President of Women in Aviation
International, Caro Bayley Bosca - former WASP and many others.
For Jahn, Mooney and mentoring go "hand in hand." One of
her personal favorite mentoring moments was when she hired a young
single mother with some financial difficulties. The young woman had
only her high school diploma but Jahn saw the young girl was "smart
as a whip." Jahn hired her as bookkeeper and office manager.
Still in contact with the woman, she now has her college degree,
bought a house, gotten married and is now head accountant for
Jahn is also proud of the advances Mooney has made in less than
a year. While Mooney is again successful, one of Jahn's short-term
goals is to "make us profitable to our investors."
Some long-term goals Jahn has for Mooney is to be "pre-eminent
in our market, where we've got repeatable sales, repeatable
production and a stability that is longer lasting."
Customer Service is also a main goal, long and short term.
Improvements at the Kerrville service center are in the works.
Improving quote turn times, parts service and aircraft maintenance
is on the list as well. Based on customer surveys an interior mod
kit for the Mooney J and K models has started, with avionic,
cowling and engine mods down the road.
To celebrate success and 60 years of Mooney a special
anniversary edition is available. The commemorative Ovation 2GX and
Bravo GX honors the Mooney tradition. The special paint scheme,
logo and interior changes have made for a high initial response for
Steering Mooney to success as CEO and mentoring young people and
employees, Jahn has exceeded her mother's dream for her of becoming
"a great corporate wife."