Fresh out of high school and working for V.T. Smith Dairy Farm, Bob Shaffer swapped his delivery truck for a fueling truck after a family friend suggested he head over to the DuBois Airport FBO and take up the open maintenance position. His career in the aviation industry, like many others, began with mowing grass, plowing snow, cleaning restrooms and fueling planes.
That was in 1978. Fast forward to 1987 and Shaffer was promoted to manager of the central Pennsylvania FBO. Recalling his entire tenure at DuBois Airport, Shaffer is thankful he took up that job and entered the thrilling industry of aviation.
“When I come to work, I never know what the day is going to bring,” Shaffer said. “Each and every day it’s something different–I could start the morning with our executive committee or help fuel planes.”
A team of seven, DuBois Airport FBO might be small but its ideal location just north of Interstate 80 has established it as the airport of choice for a varied customer base.
“Our rural area creates a need for an airline, which is where DuBois Airport comes in,” Shaffer said. “We serve leisure passengers, local businesses, executives, as well as commercial and general aviation traffic.”
Shaffer also credits the FBO’s success to its impressive customer care and operation hours. DuBois Airport provides hangar, fueling and deicing services Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to midnight, 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.
“We set ourselves apart by going out of our way to provide customers with the care and service they need–no matter the day or time,” Shaffer said.
The FBO has gone above and beyond for the direst circumstances, occasionally being the airport of choice for medical aircraft carrying organs for transplantation.
“We are unique that way,” Shaffer said. “If somebody wants us here at 3 a.m., we'll be here for them–open and operational.”
This exceptionalism is what Shaffer and his team were looking for in a fuel service, which is why DuBois Airport recently switched to Phillips 66 fuel through Phillips 66’s marketer, Purvis Brothers, in May of this year.
“I have been friends with my Phillips 66 sales representative for almost 25 years now, so that’s how the FBO’s relationship with Phillips 66 really started,” Shaffer said.
“It’s like doing business based on a handshake–Phillips 66 agreed we could contract fuel through their distributor, Purvis Brothers,” Shaffer added. “It’s crucial to have a fuel provider who not only provides on time deliveries and reasonable pricing, but one that is flexible and open to doing business your way.”
This is not the only unique relationship the FBO boasts: DuBois Airport provides plane fueling for its airline partner Southern Airways Express. Done through a cost-plus basis, Shaffer and his team provide over-the-wing fueling service to Southern at least six times daily.
“We started doing this five years ago, and we have never looked back,” Shaffer said. “It’s just been positive moving forward.”
Earlier this month, DuBois Airport FBO received two new fuel trucks.
“They are the shiny new toys around here,” Shaffer said. “We were so thrilled to get these two new trucks, and it really emphasizes our top-notch care and customer service here at DuBois.”
Looking into the near future, the FBO is setting its sights on continued expansion, specifically a new hangar.
“One of our current hangars is in dire need of repair, and rather than repair it, we are looking to build completely new,” Shaffer said. “This new hangar would feature a 100-foot door and would serve as a community hangar for a variety of based aircraft as well as overnight transient.”
Shaffer hopes to have this project underway within the next year.
From old and new relationships to modern fuel trucks and planned improvements, Shaffer emphasized the importance of having a loyal and supportive team through it all.
“In this industry and environment, there are times you have to multitask, and it can be strenuous,” Shaffer said. “But when you have a staff like mine with a tenure of anywhere between four to nine years, that speaks to having good, dedicated employees. That’s what makes a successful FBO.”