Business Aviation Helps IT Company Reach Small-Town Clients
An interview with Paladin president and founder Dan Nesmith and Charles Owen, Paladin director of sales and marketing.
Paladin Data is a small but vigorous IT company in Bend, OR. It designs and sells Point of Sale (POS) software for two specialty markets: locally-owned hardware stores and independent pharmacies, many in small towns across the nation. POS software tracks inventory, sales, customer preferences, makes reordering stock easy and has long been a must-have item for large retailers. Now, local business owners are adopting it.
When Dan Nesmith started Paladin Data 31 years ago in Bend, he and his sales force were road warriors. “We were spending virtually every waking moment in an automobile,” he said. “We were limited to a few hundred miles of Bend, and it got old. Driving, we reached the limit of how far we could grow our business.”
The nearest airport with major airline service is Portland Airport (PDX), more than three hours from Bend. But that wasn’t the major consideration for Paladin Data’s peripatetic sales force. “The major airlines don’t serve Bend, but they also don’t go to where we need to go, smaller communities,” said Nesmith. “That’s where our customers are.”
Since airline service wasn’t practical for making sales calls, in 1999 Paladin Data took the next logical step and bought an airplane, a Piper Aztec twin-engine turboprop. They base it right next door to their office at the Bend Municipal Airport, and say it expands the company’s reach from “a few hundred miles” to much of the U.S., even into Canada on occasion. According to both Nesmith and his sales manager, Charles Owen, the Piper Aztec and other aircraft they fly make a five-hour sales call drive less than an hour and boosts productivity.
“Look at a map of America,” said Nesmith. “Virtually every small town has a home town airport that allows us to get to our customers and prospects quickly and easily.” He pointed to a large map of the U.S. with more than 5,000 dots on it, each representing a public-use community airport. “Our airplane lets us optimize our time, perform more business in a shorter period of time. There is no other way to achieve those goals without the use of general aviation.”
“Our business would not be where we are today without using our business airplane.”