CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jennifer Guthrie has just moved into her new offices in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her aviation staffing company is growing so fast, this is the fourth time she’s moved in four years.
She started her business with no capital and made $800 in her first month; last year she made $12 million dollars.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Guthrie.
That journey began in her basement back in 2002. Her company, In-Flight Crew Connections, found a niche market that was untapped in the Southeast, staffing flight crews for corporate and private planes.
Guthrie says, at the beginning, she didn’t have huge dreams of wealth.
“Just wanted to have my own business, have the American dream, have a family, have a house, you know, have a little extra income,” she said. “Now we have it.”
Guthrie started with one other employee: her ex-husband. She has 16 full-time employees today and issued W-2 income statements for 526 pilots, flight attendants and technicians she hired last year. Kathy Duffy is one of the flight attendants.
Duffy told us the craziest request she’s ever gotten from a client was to fly a dog by itself and have special treats on board.
When the recession hit in 2008, the market for private jets went into a tailspin. Guthrie lost two-thirds of her business.
She cut back, hung onto as many clients as she could, and business is soaring again. In-Flight Crew Connections has grown nearly 1,500 percent over the last three years.
“I don’t have a boss that’s standing over my shoulder making sure what time did I come in and what did I do today — I have to answer to myself and that’s a lot of pressure,” said Guthrie.
Guthrie wishes she had work for all the jobless pilots and flight attendants who call. It’s a reminder that moving again is a nice problem to have.