The Pilot name came from my father-in-law. We had been operating as Bellevue Home Improvement Center, but being in a river town, we didn’t think that the name would fly. We needed something simple, and Pilot works both in aviation and for the river. Plus, it’s easy to read and remember.
You’re an airplane pilot as well? I started flying almost 30 years ago. I got my instrument rating in 1988 and received my commercial license in 1990. In 2000, I secured my instructor’s certificate. That was the most rewarding aviation certificate that I’ve received.
I thoroughly enjoy introducing new people to aviation and seeing the looks on their faces when they accomplish their lifetime dream of flying. That’s the way it was for me—it’s good to share that feeling.
The flight training business is something that I thought I would do in my retirement years. In 2005, I was certified to train on the technologically advanced Cirrus airplane.
How do you have time to fly? I usually fly between 150 to 450 hours in a year. The busiest year, I clocked 600 hours, but last year I flew about 150. I’ve got good people working for me who have been with me for a long time. We try to hire the best we can and to train them as well as we can. We hang onto the good ones and we let them do their jobs. We’re a small business, so everybody does a lot of different tasks.
What kind of customer does Pilot Lumber serve? Our typical customer is the builder, remodeler, contractor. We have two locations with two different target customers. The northern tip of Campbell County, Ky., is mainly a remodelers’ yard. The southern Campbell County location is a new-construction yard.
The future? We’re very optimistic, but we’re concerned about what’s going on in Washington. If we can get some kind of settlement on health care, I think we’ll all be better off.