Meridian Exhibits at First NBAA Regional Forum of 2016

The Meridian Team at the NBAA Regional Forum in West Palm Beach, FL.  (l to r): Kirk Stephen, Chris Battaglia, MaKayla Hambek, Mike Moore, Ines Venancio, Lindsay Berkel, Bob Platten, and Anthony Banome.

The Meridian Team at the NBAA Regional Forum in West Palm Beach, FL. (l to r): Kirk Stephen, Chris Battaglia, MaKayla Hambek, Mike Moore, Ines Venancio, Lindsay Berkel, Bob Platten, and Anthony Banome.

Last week, Meridian sent a team of eight down to West Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) to represent the company at the first NBAA Regional Forum of 2016. Although the weather was a bit challenging with heavy rains throughout the South Florida region, the business aviation community was undaunted, and showed up in numbers to the event on Thursday, Jan. 28, as more than 2,200 people turned out for the event. With 120 exhibitors and 25 aircraft on static display, the event set an attendance record for NBAA’s South Florida forums.

Florida state Sen. Maria Sachs who represents the Palm Beach area, welcomed attendees to her state, noting it’s first in the country for aircraft manufacturing – and officials plan to work hard to stay on top through tax and other initiatives.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen agreed, “Florida is a great place for business aviation,” adding that the industry “has a bright future in this country and around the world.” However, he said, business aviation is facing an attack from those in Congress looking to create a privatized ATC system, funded by user fees, as part of the debate underway in Washington over reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. Such proposals, Bolen noted, could severely limit business aircraft operators’ access to airports and airspace.

Many airlines, Bolen explained, want a system governed by a private entity, rather than the federal government, and that won’t work for business aviation. “This is a fundamentally flawed concept,” he said.

“It’s an effort by airlines to gain control and operate [the ATC system] for their benefit,” Bolen said, noting that the vast majority of airports in this county are not served by airlines. It’s business aviation, he said, that provides access to small communities around the country, and is responsible for more than 1.1 million jobs in the U.S.

Bolen urged attendees to contact lawmakers using NBAA’s online Contact Congress tool, and make their voices heard on the issue. “We’ve got to make our voice heard, let’s do that today,” he said. “Our concern is this can move forward so fast, it could be over before you see the details.” View NBAA’s online Contact Congress resource.

Many exhibitors praised the regional forum as an essential event for meeting new and current customers.

“It’s very helpful for us to have a presence here, said Corey Hanlon, marketing and community relations coordinator for New Jersey’s Morristown Airport. “It’s important to let people know that in the New York/New Jersey area there are several [airport] alternatives.”

Ivette Pla, director at Jetex in Miami, FL, agreed. “The regional shows are important because the regional flight departments don’t make it to the bigger shows.”

“It’s been very good, there’s a large amount of traffic from a lot of the operators I deal with,” said Brian Sprecher, Southeast regional sales manager with Constant Aviation. “At these shows I can see 30 operators in a day. I can have a lot of face time with a lot of operators in a short amount of time.”

The importance of NBAA regional forums also extends to the future of the industry, with students from nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) and elsewhere coming to talk with attendees and exhibitors and learn what business aviation may offer them in terms of career options.

Also, at PBI, ERAU graduate Shaeta Waiz, a pilot, debuted the Beechcraft Bonanza airplane she will be piloting in her attempt to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. Waiz’s journey kicks off June 2 from Daytona Beach, FL, and the planned 90-day trek is slated to include 35 stops on five continents, with events on each designed to empower young women to pursue STEM (science, technology engineering and math) education and “soar.”

“It’s an opportunity for young women to come together and share their successes,” said Waiz, who was born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan. “I want this to shed hope and give others some inspiration.”

The other NBAA regional forums for 2016 will be held June 9 in Van Nuys, CA, and Sept. 15 in White Plains, NY.

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Meridian Exhibits at Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference

The Meridian Team at the 2016 Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in Tampa, FL.  (l to r): Matt Lipka, Kirk Stephen, Chris Battaglia, MaKayla Hambek, Brian Potter, Mike Moore, Phil Boyer, Stephany Cabrera, Bob Platten, and Anthony Banome.

The Meridian Team at the 2016 Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in Tampa, FL. (l to r): Matt Lipka, Kirk Stephen, Chris Battaglia, MaKayla Hambek, Brian Potter, Mike Moore, Phil Boyer, Stephany Cabrera, Bob Platten, and Anthony Banome.

Meridian, the award-winning private aviation company based at Teterboro Airport, proudly participated as an exhibitor at the 2016 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (SDC2016). This year’s conference was held in Tampa, FL, at the Tampa Convention Center from Tuesday, January 19 through Friday, January 22, with a record 2,800-plus attendees and a record 517 exhibitors taking part in the event. The program included dozens of innovative education sessions, various networking events and ample opportunities to give back to the local community.

“We strive to enhance the attendee and exhibitor experience each year and, as a result, more and more people understand this is the place to be,” said Mike Nichols, NBAA’s vice president of operational excellence and professional development. “Schedulers and dispatchers are the buyers and they are empowered to come here and make choices, while gaining valuable skills and knowledge through robust education sessions.”

SDC2016 included many new features, most notably an increased focus on humanitarian efforts in support of the host city by holding a food packing event for Feeding America Tampa Bay. About 200 conference attendees volunteered time to pack 800 bags of food so needy children and their families would have food for the weekend. Additionally, this was the sixth year the conference collected gently used business clothes for local charities. This year, a total of 4,379 garments were collected, breaking last year’s record of 1,500 items. Read more about philanthropic events at SDC2016.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen also took the opportunity to talk to attendees about the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill, which when introduced next month, is expected to include a call for privatizing air traffic control with user fees.

Calling it an “imminent battle,” Bolen urged SDC2016 attendees to contact lawmakers urging them to vote against the plan, adding they could use NBAA’s online Contact Congress resource to easily make their voice heard. “It’s a tremendous opportunity we have to make our views known,” he said. “We need all of you to be active and engaged in this process. The future of business aviation is at stake.” View Contact Congress.

Other new and expanded features of the conference included:

1. A unique approach to learning with innovative concepts, such as session rooms configured to inspire engagement and provide a more intimate and inclusive setting for professional development.

2. Two opening general session speakers who spoke to the conference theme – “unlock your potential.” On Jan. 19, best-selling author and entrepreneur Ty Bennett discussed leadership, and on Jan. 20, Bob Hobbi, President and CEO of ServiceElements International, facilitated realistic scenarios demonstrating challenges that schedulers and dispatchers experience in the workplace.

3. For the second year, a third full day of education sessions was offered on a wide-range of topics – from surviving audits to regulatory compliance and international operations to technology challenges.

“Professional development is a cornerstone of the Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference, and we are continually striving to understand how our attendees want to learn and listening to their feedback and then trying to adapt to that,” said Jo Damato, NBAA’s director of educational development and strategy. “This conference is going into its 28th year and we don’t ever want to be a conference that looks the way it did 28 years ago or even five years ago. We are always moving forward and always looking at what can attendees get from this event that improves their professional development “

Dozens of scholarships also were awarded at SDC2016, with thousands of dollars in monetary and training scholarships presented to dozens of individuals.

Additionally, Dorette Kerr, a former chair of the S&D Committee, received the association’s Schedulers & Dispatchers Outstanding Achievement & Leadership Award. Read more about Kerr and the award.

“The conference went great, we had a lot of positive feedback from attendees about the event,” said SDC2016 Chair Eve Gregory, with C&S Wholesale Grocers, noting that it takes hundreds of volunteers to make the conference a success each year. “The organizing committee did a remarkable job – it was apparent in the exhibit hall, in the session rooms and in everything that they planned. I’m so proud of the conference they produced.”

Next year’s conference (SDC2017) is scheduled for February 7 through 10 in Fort Worth, TX.

The Meridian booth is shown featuring our new FBO, Meridian Hayward, at Hayward Executive Airport (HWD) in Hayward, CA.

The Meridian booth is shown featuring our new FBO, Meridian Hayward, at Hayward Executive Airport (HWD) in Hayward, CA.

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Meridian Gives Back during the Holidays

Meridian is a proud supporter of the 22nd Annual Toy Drive for the Center of Hope and Safety.  Aviation companies gather at Teterboro Airport's Administrative Building to donate their gifts.  (Meridian is represented by Michelle Guerra and Joy Glassman on the right.)

Meridian is a proud supporter of the 22nd Annual Toy Drive for the Center of Hope and Safety. Aviation companies gather at Teterboro Airport’s Administrative Building to donate their gifts. (Meridian is represented by Michelle Guerra and Joy Glassman on the right.)

On Friday, December 18, 2015, Meridian colleagues Michelle Guerra and Joy Glassman exited the Meridian parking lot and drove down Industrial Avenue to the unadorned airport building identified only with a big number “1” on its side. Inside their car were three large boxes containing new toys, games, clothes, shoes, gift cards, and many other items which would have made Santa’s Elves jealous. These were the donations collected by Meridian employees for the Center for Hope and Safety. Caitlin Byrne, the shelter’s representative, was there to receive the donations and to thank the many company representatives from the airport community that had donated.

Center for Hope and Safety’s mission is to assist women and children who are victims of domestic violence, including emotional, economic, sexual and physical abuse. The agency provides emergency and transitional housing, emotional support, and a diversified continuum of services focused on safety, empowerment, and self-sufficiency. Through community partnerships, Center for Hope and Safety raises awareness, provides services, and educates community members about domestic violence.

Ken Forester, Meridian CEO, is extremely proud of his staff. “To see so many wonderful gifts donated by our Meridian family to families in need is truly a humbling experience. We work hard everyday to make sure that our customers feel special, but it’s even more gratifying to see our folks go above and beyond to help those in our community who are less fortunate. The donations that have been collected for the Center of Hope and Safety will certainly brighten the holidays for a lot of kids who are facing some tough times. It’s truly important for us to give back during the holidays, and I think that our people have done a great job in rising to the occasion.”

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