P&WC team plans for event that attracts 500,000 aviation enthusiasts.
When you ask Bob Milonja, Senior Coordinator, Marketing Shows & Exhibits, when he started planning for AirVenture 2013, held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in late July, he quickly replies, “At AirVenture 2012.” Bob is responsible for managing P&WC’s booth at the event, which has been held annually since 1953 by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). The EAA has some 175,000 members around the world.
“At the end of every convention, while we are still there on the ground, we look at what we could do better next year,” he says. For example, Bob was able to secure a larger space for the P&WC booth, allowing for more room in which to meet customers privately, by taking quick action last year when the space opened up. “Given the size of the event and the fact that we will have six to seven PT6 engines on display at various venues at the event, the show requires a lot of planning,” he says. In addition to Bob, the core P&WC team for AirVenture consists of Luc Landry, Senior Manager, Business Development, Next-Generation General Aviation Products; Kathy Roberge, Senior Advisor, Marketing Communications; and Nivine Kallab, Business Development, General Aviation Programs.
The team meets throughout the year to discuss opportunities and kicks off weekly meetings in April as the date of the convention draws near. Plans for P&WC and customer milestones, sponsorship opportunities and special events to be held at the EAA are gradually developed during these meetings and then shared with P&WC executives. (See Showcasing the PT6 Engine to see what’s being planned for EAA this year.)
“Once the show plan is established, it’s a matter of working out the logistics, which are often complex,” says Bob. P&WC also participates in KidVenture ( Teens and Turbines), and this adds an extra level of planning. “For example, I need to get a borescope [a device used to examine the parts inside an engine without dismantling it] on site. Fortunately, I know a guy who can do it for us at no cost,” he says with a smile. After 33 years on the job, travelling the world an average of 180 days a year, Bob likely “knows a guy” who can get just about anything done anywhere in the world!
Arrangements must be made to ship the PT6 engines to Oshkosh (they are stored in a facility in Hartford, Connecticut), and the same is true for the show booth itself (also stored near Hartford). The team gradually works through all of the planning and special arrangements that need to be covered. “At the EAA event, thousands of people have a chance to view our products,” says Bob, “so there is lots to do in preparation, including moving parts to Oshkosh, a task that must be carefully managed. In addition, given the lack of hotel accommodations in the area, the company rents a home for P&WC staff who works at the EAA. (The homeowners go on vacation to avoid the EAA crowds.) Housing everyone under the same roof is also a way of containing costs. During the entire week, Bob shops and prepares meals for the P&WC employees who work at EAA, although he does admit to using his parenting skills to easily delegate sous-chef responsibilities and other household duties.
All in a day’s work for a master of logistics and planning.