Our guest today is COO Alliance Member and Aviator PPG’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Luebke.
Matt has been around aviation his whole life, but never in the pilot’s seat, until training at Aviator. He trained with Aviator at the Dunnellon location in January of 2021.
Matt spent 4 years in the US Air Force in the late 90s, primarily stationed at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska. He also completed a 6-month tour in Saudi Arabia at King Abdul Aziz Airbase in support of Operation Desert Shield.
Matt’s last job was as the Chief Architect of a software company called ScienceLogic, where he was one of the first employees. During this time he was awarded multiple patents and helped grow the company to be a large player in the industry.
Matt’s first paramotor flight was truly a life-changing experience, and now he works at Aviator helping to make dreams come true for the consumer!
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- How Aviator PPG markets their service packages
- How Aviator PPG chooses their target audience
- How Matt’s role as COO is preparing him to become the CEO
- What works and doesn’t work in training their instructors
Aviator PPG – https://aviatorppg.com
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Our guest is COO Alliance member and Aviator PPG‘s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Luebke. He has been around aviation his whole life but never in the pilot seat until training at Aviator. He trained with Aviator at the Dunnellon location in January of 2021. He spent four years in the US Air Force in the late 1990s, primarily stationed at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. He also completed a six-month tour in Saudi Arabia at King Abdulaziz Airbase in support of Operation Desert Shield.
Matt’s last job was as the Chief Architect of a software company called ScienceLogic, where he was one of the first employees. During that time, he was awarded multiple patents and helped grow the company to be a large player in the industry. Matt’s first paramotor flight was truly a life-changing experience and now he works at Aviator helping to make dreams come true for the consumer. Matt, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Cameron. It’s good to be here.
Normally, I don’t ask about the company until a little bit later on but it makes sense to tell people right away what this business is and how you got involved in it. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about Aviator?
We’re a bit of a unique company. We teach powered paragliding or paramotoring as it’s called. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s very hard to describe but if you’ve ever seen a paraglider, you know what it looks like. The paragliding wing is over your head. You strap a motor onto your back with a propeller, take off from the ground and go fly. Our business is primarily teaching people how to fly those things, selling equipment and maintaining that equipment.
I’m picturing this very small two-person almost. Is it a hang gliding sail above you or is it more like a rectangular parachute above you?
It’s more like a paragliding wing. It’s a soft wing. It’s made out of fabric. There are no structural components to it, whatsoever like a hang glider has. The wing inflates with air as you’re taking off and stays inflated throughout the flight.
What are the safety specs on this? This is not like a little burger restaurant.
It’s interesting that you mentioned a burger restaurant because I have an interesting marketing story to talk about how I got into this and how Aviator became the player that we’re in the industry. For the safety of this, there’s an organization called USPPA, which manages our sports relationship with the FAA. This is fully allowed by the FAA. There’s no license required. The safety aspect of it is, we like to say that it’s somewhere between driving a car and riding a motorcycle. It’s less safe than sitting in a car and safer than riding a motorcycle. It’s very safe. The failure mode of a paramotor is if your motor quits, you still have a parachute over your head. You’re going to fly to the ground safely.
Years ago, these friends of mine almost got into it and they were these little microlights. They were more like a fixed-wing almost on top of a hang glider but are super small. However, those things tend to crash and burn a little bit more probably because they were heavier. Is that the reason?
They are heavier, yes. Ultralight aviation, we’re governed under FAA Part 103, which is microlight aviation and that’s anything that the equipment is under 256 pounds. This is well under that bar. You mentioned two-seaters. This is primarily a one-person thing. There are two seaters. There is licensure required for doing two seats.
How much training is involved for somebody? I would imagine they can’t just hop on down and go up that afternoon or do they?
Our program is anywhere between 10 days and 2 weeks. We teach you everything that you need to know. We teach you about airspace, micrometeorology and climatology. We teach you how the paramotor works. We teach you how to pre and post-flight. For every safety thing that you can imagine, we’ll teach you everything that you need to know. It’s a 14-day boot camp style. Once you’ve completed the program and you buy your equipment, you can go fly for as much as it costs to fill a gas tank.
Are people renting these units from you and doing it or is it pretty much a take-the-course by the units?
It’s pretty much taking the course by the units.
What’s the course cost? What’s the unit’s cost?
Our course costs around $4,000. The motor, the thing that you wear on your back costs somewhere around $8,000 and the wing is somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000. That’s if you buy new. We do have options for buying used as well.
Are you pretty much a find a client, create that experience and sell the unit? Is there recurring revenue involved or is it a one-time purchase per customer?
One of the things that I’m looking at changing is potentially offering more advanced-style courses so that we can have some of those returning customers. It’s pretty much a once-and-done. We have people that buy parts for maintenance and things like that but we don’t have people coming back to the full course over again.
We’re developing some additional advanced courses so we can teach people how to do more advanced acrobatic things like you can do wingovers or go upside down in these things. You can do crazy stuff. You can fly within inches of the ground. Some of our more advanced courses would be teaching people how to do some of those more advanced things.
Have you ever done any retreat-style events where it’s twenty people who have done this stuff head off and they do a four-day Grand Canyon experience and you’re marketing the experiential side of some of this and hanging out as a tribe or is it pretty much you’re doing the units that they’re off on their own?
We got back from a trip that was exactly that. We’re in the middle of a new product launch and we took some of those products out to a pretty cool location out in Utah, near Salt Lake City, in Moab, that kind of area. We hooked up with a bunch of friends out there. We made some promotional videos. We flew around some cool stuff. We had a great time.
Tell me about the business itself. What’s the scope of the operation? Where are you guys operating?
We’re the 800-pound gorilla in this space. We’re the largest and safest paramotor company in the United States. We train about 300 people a year.
Are you operating in one location or multiple locations?
We are operating out of Lake Wales, Florida. That’s our only location. We’re looking at other possible areas to expand into. It’s a little bit more of a challenge for us because it’s very weather-related and dependent. Florida is a very flat state and we get lots of flat laminar wind and that helps us out quite a bit. You don’t want turbulence or bumps when you’re up there all alone flying in a lawn chair with a bed sheet over your head.
You’re the largest in the United States. Are there other global competitors that are doing this? Where are they? France is a big paraglider community. Where is the bigger competition?
It’s pretty big in Europe. We have quite a few competitors in the United States. None that quite reach our scale. Our next biggest competitor is about 175 students a year. We’re close to 300. There are a lot of onesie-twosies out there. Somebody goes through the program, earns their trainer certificate and then does weekend warrior-type stuff and trains people to fly on the weekend locally. That’s a fairly big competitor for us but they don’t get nearly the quality with that. You’re just with one person.
Is there any approach or any looks for you guys as a company to either franchise this or get into multiple locations or have locations in other states?
You’re reading my mind. That’s on my list. The ulterior motive for us heading out West to Utah and the Arizona area was potentially looking at locations to open up a school out that way.
I’ve done a couple of rollups over the years. I did a rollup in the collision repair space where we acquired auto body collision repair shops all over North America. It’s called Gerber Auto Collision in the US and Boyd Autobody in Canada. Gerber is $900 million but it was all done by acquisitions. In the house painting industry, we did it with College Pro Painters where we opened up 850 house painting businesses every year.
1-800-GOT-JUNK? was a franchise model as well but I could see you guys doing something interesting around this space where you become the big North American brand and you have either franchises or licenses in all of these markets. Just to even leverage the buying power and the marketing power could be intriguing.
We are starting up a referral network. Find somebody local to you. We’ll refer people to you. We’ve got a big waitlist. Have people refer to us as well.
I remember years ago when we were getting into the house painting business. There was somebody who started up like 1-800-PAINTER or 1-800-PAINT. I was like, “That’s interesting. These guys must be everywhere,” and they weren’t. All they were were marketing and then they found good house painting companies in every market and they sold the leads to them and took an arbitrage opportunity. You guys are doing something intriguing. What are the day-to-day operations of your business look like? Where are the pain points for you in business other than the death by 1,000 cuts where you’ve got competition, even the mom-and-pops?
If you think of a ski resort and hiring ski instructors, that is our business model. We hire people who are good at doing this to train other people to get good at doing this. A big part of our business is the eCommerce side and the direct sales side of selling equipment to students that come through our program.
Your recurring revenue model then is the upgrades, the new equipment, the parts and that stuff as well.
If a new wing comes out, then people get excited about that.
Are you doing anything on the swag? Are you doing anything with the clothing, gear and all that stuff?
We have lots of licenses.
A friend of mine growing up did one in the aviation space. It’s called Red Canoe but he has all the Cessna, De Havilland, Beaver and all these old classic pontoon planes. You got that side of the operation and the training of people. What was it about the business that got you excited and involved? You’ve been around aviation but you’ve never worked in this space or you’ve never been a pilot. What caught you excited about the business itself?
Let me tell you a little bit about the business itself. We pull all of our customers as they exit. Our MDS score is 97 and that’s real. We pull every single customer that comes through our program and everybody raves about it. It’s pretty fantastic. When I say life-changing, when you look at the vision statements of companies out there, everybody was like, “We want to change the world through finance or build the better mouse trap and change everybody’s lives because of it.”
This is truly life-changing stuff. You’re facing fears. You’re overcoming challenges and that’s what appealed to me. My life got changed when I went through this program. When you lift off the ground and you’re sitting in that seat by yourself and you’re flying over whatever you want to fly over and seeing whatever you want to see, it puts a new perspective on everything. I got bit by the bug, for sure.
Have you been around the Air Force before or have you been around flying before?
I grew up next door to an airport. I was in the Air Force for four years. I’ve always been fascinated by flying planes. I had never taken that leap myself in the pilot seat until I joined Aviator.
Does any of this give you an advantage in the business at all or did it matter? Is it more like once you did the training program, now you’re applying business to a niche?
To my knowledge, it’s always important to know about the thing that you’re trying to sell. The more that you can know about the equipment and how it works and how it operates and having a personal experience of using your products is invaluable.
How many employees do you guys have, full-time and part-time?
Full-time employees, we have about ten. Most of our employees are contractors. All of our trainers are contractors and we have about fifteen of those.
You’re location-based so it makes things easy to build the culture and stuff. Where are you getting most of your customers? Is it marketing? Is it word of mouth?
It’s online. It’s mostly digital marketing. The story that I was going to tell is there was a young guy that went through our program many years ago. His name’s Tucker Gott. He’s got a YouTube channel. He’s got about 1.5 million subscribers on that channel. All he does on that channel is paramotoring. He’s added base jumping but he posted a video several years ago about Tucker Gott: Flying to McDonald’s on My Paramotor.
He loaded up his paramotor, drove to his local park, strapped everything on, took off, flew to McDonald’s, bought some burgers, jumped back in his paramotor, ate the burgers and flew home. He trained with us. That video has been watched about 45 million times. He mentions that he trained with us and that he had such a fantastic experience with us all the time. That’s been huge for us.
Do you guys do anything? My wife and I did the skydive in Dubai over top of the palm and we paid the additional X amount of money to have the videos and all that stuff done. Do you guys create those videos and photos for your students as well? Is that part of your package?
We do. We have a YouTube channel as well. It’s not quite as many as Tucker has but we have a pretty big following. We create videos for that channel. A big part of our business is filming people while they’re training and telling their stories.
I’m curious whether there’s a viral loop opportunity where your clients then have those videos for themselves and they’re starting to share them on social media.
We sell a couple of different photo packages. We have our videographers out there all the time videoing the training classes for our purposes. We use that same footage to document their experience as well.
It feels like that’s got to be a massive opportunity for every one of those students, giving them the stuff so that they can then share it, helping them share it, helping them place it and giving them some incentives to share it. I went and did an escape room a couple of years ago. When we came out of the escape room, they had all the crazy little, “Hold up this. Here’s our thing. If you post your image, you’ll get 20% off on your next escape room,” kind of thing. It’s them sharing it on their feeds where the viral component became but I would imagine your students are posting their stuff anyway because they’re excited about it.
They hopefully bought their equipment and they’re posting videos of what they’ve made. This is not just a two-week thing that you come here to experience. You’re coming here to learn a new skill, take advantage of that skill and post videos of you having fun and doing cool stuff.
It’s interesting that it’s such a long time. It is not like a business. You are learning a new skill and not just you are going jumping out of a plane strapped to some random guy’s back. It’s not like it’s a two-hour session.
The interesting thing is this sport in particular, out of all aviation, your first flight, your first time in the pilot seat is a solo flight. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into that. You can imagine. There’s a lot of knowledge that you have to have to be able to sit in that seat and do it safely.
There’s no way to bring this into the business world. You can’t train a whole leadership team around this because it’s 10 or 14 days.
I’d love to. If you look at our website, one of the advanced training classes that we’re potentially going to start teaching is a corporate retreat. We’d love to do that.
It’s interesting how this stuff works whether or not it can be broadened into the business world because it’s such an interesting niche and market. I honestly think your big opportunities are going to be to license, joint venture or do rollups acquisitions or franchises where you become the brand and the systems and the buying power across all these markets versus trying to grow organically as well. The organic growth is going to be harder than every other form it feels like.
I 100% agree with that. We’ve been organically growing for about ten years. We’ve seen what pace we can grow at and there’s more out there.
Is it organic growth or do you have investment money involved in this? Do you have suppliers that have invested? How does that work?
No investment but a lot of the profit of the company has gone back into the company.
It’s organic growth and it’s funded by the founder. Who makes the actual products? What companies are doing that? Are those the boutique kind of businesses or is it more of a larger company that’s doing everything globally?
There are many different brands as you can imagine. Our biggest sellers are Ozone Wings. It is a company that’s based out of France. They do most of their manufacturing in Vietnam. They make all of the wings and we’re the primary importer of Ozone in the United States. There are all sorts of different brands out there. There’s Dudek and ITV. There are many different kinds. Most of the manufacturers are based in Europe. We’re starting to manufacture our paramotor. We are partnering with a company in Spain called Liberty. We’re making Limitless paramotor. That was the promotional tour that we went on to show off Limitless.
In terms of selling direct to these end users or the pilots who have been certified, are you selling to non-trained clients of yours? Are you selling to people that have been trained from other schools and stuff as well?
Some people have trained through other schools if we can verify that they’ve been trained. I don’t want that kind of stress.
How do you know that? Is it like a PADI certification in scuba? Do they get an FAA license or something?
There’s no FAA license required, which draws a lot of interesting people into this sport. There’s an optional program that you can go through the USPPA that’s called the PPG certification. PPG1 certification is that you’ve been trained by a trainer and you’ve successfully taken from 1 to 5 flights. PPG2 is where our program ends. We’ll get you there. That’s 25 solo flights. You’ll get a certification from USPPA for PPG2 and you can use that for insurance purposes. You’ll get insurance rates and things like that but there’s no actual FAA certification.
What do you mean it draws interesting people into this sport?
You can’t just buy one of these things, strap it on your back and go for a flight. Some people self-train and that’s pretty scary.
When you said it brings interesting people, I was like, “Have you got drug mules flying back and forth in their little paramotors?”
There’s not that much carrying capacity. I don’t think it would be an efficient drug mule.
What is the carrying capacity? Is it only you? If they don’t have a parachute, what’s on their back? You said they’re carrying a 60-pound backpack as well.
It’s the motor. There’s a small motor that is attached to a frame. There’s a harness that’s also attached to that frame. You get strapped into the harness. The motor’s on the back and the propeller is on the back as well. That’s what provides you the thrust, the forward momentum. The wing keeps you up, the motor pushes you forward.
Who invented this?
That’s a great question but I don’t know the answer.
This was before cannabis was legal but they were smoking some.
It’s been around for many years. In an old Baywatch episode, David Hasselhoff was flying one of these things using it for search and rescue.
I would guess that it’s been around even longer than that but it is such an interesting play for sure. How about you in your role? What’s given you the skills to operate as the Chief Operating Officer? What are you working at or continuing to work out?
Let me talk about my previous company a little bit. My previous company is called ScienceLogic. They developed monitoring software of all things but I started with that company as employee number 6 and stayed with them for about 20 years. We grew into a $500 million company. I was there from the very beginning helping that company grow. I took a lot of lessons from that and have tried to apply many of those lessons to this job as well.
What would some of the lessons have been? What do you think are some of the deeper skills?
As a software developer and software architect, one of the big things in the industry is agile and scrum teams and turning a small group of people into a self-managed team. That’s one of the things that I’m good at. Also, as a software developer, the two hardest things that you can do are start a project and finish a project. I’ve honed those muscles over the years by doing the appropriate amount of research beforehand, jumping into the project and getting done when you’re done.
The employees that you’re bringing in, are many of the employees’ former clients or are these people that are in love with aviation or are they people who are looking for a job and they’re in a business? They may or may not like the product.
A lot of those. We don’t pay very well so a lot of people that come for our program aren’t looking for jobs unless they’re pre-retirement and looking for a little supplemental income and to do something fun with their spare time. We get all of those. We get people who are aviation enthusiasts to stop by and ask for a job or people that have gone through the program looking for something. We have job listings on our website as well. We get hits on those about every week.
At your leadership team level, everybody’s certified in this so if an instructor doesn’t show up, one of you guys has to swoop in and teach or be there with the students. Is that true or are you pretty reliant on the instructors?
That’s correct. I am not certified to be an instructor. I’ve not been with the company long enough yet to fully train myself. I’m too busy running the company but most everybody else is and that’s the plan for me as well as I work myself through that.
What’s the training involved in that? Is it a couple of hundred hours, a certain number of flight hours, a number of flights or a combination of all?
You’ll sit with our class. We have one guy who went through the program and then sat through the next class as an unpaid intern and never left. He learned how to fly and stayed for the next class to learn how to do better and kept staying and learning more to learn how to be an instructor. It affected him that much.
I’ve got a friend who did that in yoga. He got into yoga and then got obsessed with yoga. He did his yoga teacher training and then it’s like, “Do you have a life outside of doing yoga constantly?” It’s unbelievable.
We have a long list of skills that you have to certify on and as you get checked off, you’ll move up in rank, for lack of a better word. It takes about 6 to 9 months to get through everything and check all the boxes to get to the class A instructor.
The CEO or the entrepreneur who started this business, are they still actively involved? How do you divide and conquer or split the roles between the two?
He is still actively involved but interestingly, he dropped the bombshell that he is interested in taking some more steps back and giving me some more responsibility. Ultimately, he wants to turn me into the CEO and go have fun.
Why is that? Has he done his thing and is happy?
He has been doing it for many years. It’s a very stressful thing. I’m sure you’re very aware of that. He wants to take some time with his family.
What’s that transition start to look like? How did that conversation play out?
I run the entire company with a little input from him. I like to say that he’s a visionary. He likes to think of all the cool things we can do and I’m the guy that gets stuck implementing them.
When he brought you on board, what was that transition period like in terms of you getting into the organization? How did he bring you into the organization? How did he onboard you to understand the ins and outs of the organization?
There wasn’t a whole lot of onboarding. It was like, “Sit in this room. Watch these people work and figure out what we’re doing wrong.” That was my onboarding. I did exactly that. I sat in the room for a week. I asked a whole bunch of questions of everybody. I tried to find holes in the logic and business, fill those holes and start making suggestions. Evidently, a lot of those suggestions have worked and have been good suggestions. He’s continuing to give me more responsibility.
Have you had any turnover at all? Do you have a fairly consistent staff? How’s that work?
We have a lot of turnovers. I equated this to a ski instructor. It’s very similar to that. There are two sides to it. You either get a young guy who hasn’t started his career yet that doesn’t know what he wants to do. “This is a cool thing so I’m going to do this for a little while,” or you get the retiree who wants to have a little bit of spare income and some cool stuff in their spare time. They don’t want to have a full-time corporate job. Those guys are fairly transient. They’ll stick around for a year and maybe go find something else.
Is there a crossover between your sport or this activity and others? The people that are into skydiving say, “This is something I want to get into and try.” Does it leap the skiing industry into this? Is there any leap like that? Is it normal pilots? All the people that fly their planes, are they trying to learn as well because it’s something different?
All of those. I’ve been pulled aside by every one of those people. We will have pilots land at the airport while we’re flying, pull up to us in their plane and say, “This thing looks cool. Let me get into that.” We are co-located with a skydiving facility so people can come here and do all their bucket lists. We get people who will go up for their first tandem skydive, watch us fly, come down and say, “This looks way cooler than skydiving.”
The big hurdle is the fact that it is a 10 to 14-day thing too. They can’t just go and do it for the day.
That’s one of the big reasons why some of our customers go to the weekend warrior types. They’ll have a weekend program where you can come learn a little bit this weekend and come learn a little bit more the next weekend. It takes a lot longer to get there to where you feel comfortable flying but ours is 14 days and a lot of people can’t justify taking 2 weeks off of work.
Also, away from family or even being on the road to come and do that.
We understand that. The cool thing about our program is that it is very heavily weather-oriented and time-of-day-oriented because of the weather. Early in the morning, the winds are usually typically calm. Late in the evening, before sunset, the winds calm down as well. It’s a sport that you do very early in the morning around sunrise and very late in the evening around sunset.
Are the clients doing normal daytime business as well or are they in the classroom?
That’s what I was getting at with that story because it’s early morning and late evening, which leaves the middle of the day open. You can go back to your hotel and have a nap. You can do some work or take care of emails.
You got to buy some big old house and let people live together as well so they’re doing their course and eight of them living in some massive Airbnb together.
I love hearing you say this stuff because this is exactly the kind of thing that we have planned. We would love to be the full-service paramotor resort. You show up. We’ve got a place to stay, a place to hook up your camper and park and all that stuff.
You’re tied in with the community aspect of it as well. You can do your work. I had something on the people doing this and the business kind of thing. What is the marketing that’s working for you? Is it all digital? Is it all social media? What have you tried that’s not working?
Our biggest problem is that people don’t know about this sport. People have never seen it. If we could get that in front of people, we would get much more traction. Our marketing is primarily influencers like Tucker Gott whom I mentioned. He mentions us on his channel all the time. Also, digital marketing. We’ve started experimenting with Google advertising, putting video advertising and search advertising and that’s paid off well.
The big one is going to be making sure that every one of your clients has videos and images of their own and helping them get those posted online and helping them to create some incentives for them to be able to be sharing that stuff online so that all of their community is seeing this stuff too. It’s like, “I want what she’s having. I want to try out what he’s doing as well.” It is an interesting business when we see it happening as well. You guys are a training organization. What works in training adults? What’s not working? Have you found that certain kinds of classroom training are working and not working or kinds of online training that are working and not working? Are there any thoughts about that at all?
Why we think our school makes a good school is because we have a big variety of instructors that if the way that this guy teaches isn’t working for you, we’ll switch you off to this other guy who’s maybe a little bit calm or maybe a little bit more aggressive. Maybe he’s going to say something in a slightly different way that’s going to click with you. What we found is moving people to different instructors, finding where they fit and then ultimately sticking them there and writing it out through the rest of the course. That’s what works best for us.
Tell us about your clients a little bit. As much as this is a niche thing and there’s an economic shift happening, the reality is most of your customers have money or they wouldn’t be out doing this in the first place. Even though there’s an economic shift, it’s not like they’re bankrupt and they’re living on the streets. It’s not like you’re selling to people that are trying to scrape together. This is a vacation. They’ve probably higher net worth individuals from the get-go.
We get some of those people that come in and it’s like a bucket list thing. They come in like, “I flew,” and that’s it for them. I’d prefer not to have those people as clients because I want to see those people have their lives changed, go out there and post cool things on social media. This is a cool thing and I love for everybody to do it.
Is there any way that this can become a tandem where you’re in one of these with a pilot and maybe the training is a half-day training to learn this? Do those units exist at all?
They do exist. They have to be very special units because they have to fit under that weight limit. There are tandem units. We do use them in training. Your first flight will be in a tandem unit with an experienced pilot showing you what it’s all about. You can buy that if you want to. You can come here and take a joyride.
That is an opportunity.
Yes. To do that as a pilot with a passenger takes a lot of training. You have to be an instructor and have a tandem rating because you’re taking somebody else’s life into your hands.
As much as it’s not entirely the mission of what you’re after, there’s got to be some massive upside for you there as well. Your entire forearm group is coming out and they’re all going to do a 30-minute ride and paying $500 a person. What do you charge per person for the joyride?
You’ve got a huge opportunity there for sure because that’s right at the price of what skydiving is.
Yes, plus it gives you that taste. You get up in the air and see exactly what this feels like and what you’re going to experience if you go through the program.
I call it the drug dealer model. “You want a free joint and a second free joint. Do you want to buy some pot?” You’re hooked. My wife, when she did her first skydiving in Dubai, came back and was like, “I want to do this.” I’m like, “You’re already hooked.”
My wife is the same thing on her first skydive.
I’m glad to know this. Where in Florida are you? What are the closest bigger cities that you’re on?
It’s central Florida. If you put your finger on a map and what you think of as the Center of Florida, that’s pretty much exactly where we’re. We’re South of Orlando in between Orlando and Tampa.
Was that an hour and a half from each of those cities?
Probably closer to 1 hour to Orlando and maybe 1.5 hours to Tampa.
You’ve got a couple of big markets to draw from then. Is the majority of your clients from that area as well?
Surprisingly, all across the Eastern seaboard.
I’d love to get the joyride. I got a bunch of CEOs that I used to coach out there in Florida and a bunch of clients that are based out there as well that are close enough. I’m going to let them know about this because they’re adrenaline junkies. Is it called the joyride? What do you call it?
No. It’s called a tandem experience. The FAA is a little bit weird about some of the rules. They don’t let people make money doing this sport. It has to be categorized as an instructional flight. You will learn along the way. You’ll learn about how the wing works, all the safety aspects, what all the straps do, how the harness works and things like that. You’ll learn quite a bit on your first tandem ride as well.
They’re paying for the instruction and the flight is a bonus. I want you to go back to your 21-year-old self. If you were to give Matt some advice as a 21 or 22-year-old starting in your career, what would you tell yourself?
Be honest with yourself. My journey is discovering my true self and forging a new relationship with myself and my wife. Honesty to yourself, your spouse and everyone around you is so important.
It’s like, “When you look in the mirror, do you like whom you see?” Honesty is a huge part of that. Matt Luebke, the COO for Aviator PPG, thanks so much for sharing with us on the show. We appreciate your time.