A special event held to coincide with the recent NBAA-BACE 2022 was the Detailer’s Reception, hosted by Global Appearance Partners, Granitize Aviation International and Perrone Performance Leathers & Textiles.
The event has been held every year since 2009, apart from in the recent years where an in-person NBAA-BACE was prevented by COVID-19.
“There were two goals for the event – to show appreciation to the detailing community for their business and hard work in the industry; and to provide a forum in which aircraft detailers can network and discuss relevant issues within their respective businesses,” said Kevin T Shea, vice president of sales for the Americas at Perrone.
“Aircraft detailers are very hard-working professionals whose work goes largely unappreciated and yet it is in front of every business traveller in the USA, and paramount for a positive flight experience,” continued Shea. “Aircraft detailers undergo full training with interior suppliers such as Perrone, covering the materials and chemicals they interact with.”
Jared R Wolf, CEO of Global Appearance Partners, a co-host of the event that offers detailing management services, said the reception is his favourite event of the year. “It’s the one and only time we get a large majority of our vendor network in the same room for an evening,” he explained. “Catching up, meeting new people, and continuing to grow our little community in this niche aspect of aviation is the reason we love this event. Everyone gets along great, and we have such a good time sharing stories and learning about how people are growing their business. It would take me a year and a ton of travel time and cost to see all these people normally, where this event brings this little community together once a year for a fantastic night.”
Brett Logan, CEO and owner of Immaculate Flight, an aircraft cleaning and detailing company, shared that he looked forward to the Detailer’s Reception every year. “Aircraft detailing is a very niche subset in the private aviation industry and to have a chance to come together with peers (and competitors!) is a fun way to stay caught up on the latest news and trends,” he said. “What we do is very hard work so it’s nice to be together with like-minded folks who ‘get it’, along with some key suppliers.”
The role of detailers
Wolf of Global Appearance Partners summed up the role of detailers as offering services to keep aircraft looking their best, inside and out. “These services range from a simple vacuum to a full paint polish and everywhere in between,” he said. “One of the reasons we work so hard to partner with only the best detailers is because detailing an aircraft can be almost an art form. It takes years of experience and knowledge for how to best treat a stain based on what was spilled and the material it tarnished. It takes time and practice to perfect the skills needed to bring aged brightwork and paint back to life. The role is simple, but the execution can vary greatly based on who you use.”
Logan of Immaculate Flight contended that aircraft detailing is one of the most important aspects of private aviation. “We provide another set of inspection eyes to augment aircraft maintenance; we often report things to maintenance departments that we find,” he said.
Another point he made is that the detailers’ skill sets the tone for a passenger’s flight. “A clean plane shows care of the asset, which extends to the other items like maintenance, catering, etc,” said Logan. “It affects three of the five senses in sight, smell and touch.”
“Keeping a clean aircraft is better for the environment because it lessens fuel burn – a cleaner/smoother exterior provides less drag,” he added.
Key issues in the industry
One of the issues facing the detailing industry right now, said Logan of Immaculate Flight, is the “fragmented nature of each manufacturer having different recommendations/guidelines on proper cleaning procedures”.
Another issue cited by Logan was the challenge faced in all industries, of finding good workers. “It takes a lot of time, diligence and background checking,” he said.
Logan also warned about uninsured or under-insured vendors: “Good detailing companies carry high levels of the proper insurance, not just general business insurance or janitorial policies. Some of these same vendors use products designed for automotive, not aerospace, because of the cost. No-one should be using non-aviation-approved chemicals!”
Wolf of Global Appearance Partners also noted perceptions were a problem: “I think the largest issue that detailers have faced is the perception of their role. The perception can be that detailers just clean planes, but the work that goes into developing these companies and the people that work there is hard work and takes time. What happens is, there is one group of detailers who take what they do very seriously and make efforts to positively impact their customers; and there is a second group of detailers who, given little oversight, will do just enough to get by and make a quick buck. On the surface, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the two initially.”
Wolf emphasised that aircraft detailing is an industry where you get what you pay for. “There are tons of companies that will undercut pricing to win business and then underperform in the long run, which can negatively impact the view people and companies have for our industry,” he explained. “Aircraft cleaning is often an afterthought – until it isn’t; until a situation arises where you need the experience of one of these companies to solve a problem. That’s one of the most tangible benefits of using a service like Global Appearance Partners; by utilising our service, you know that we have curated a network of the best detailers who can handle the everyday cleanings as well as the larger specialised services.”