On May 3rd, 1999, APA Aviation Staffing was born. Founded by Danny and Jan McKee, APA Services was created to provide full service aviation staffing of qualified technical professionals to companies in the Aerospace/Aircraft industry. For the past 24 years, we have done just that! With clients in over 30 states in the United States, APA has been a top tier provider in the aviation staffing space. All of APA's success lies within the stellar customer service provided across all departments, our one-of-a kind aviation referral program, Constant Cash, and of course, our founders, Mr. and Mrs. McKee.
This week, we sat down with Danny McKee to congratulate him on 24 years of success and get to know the successful business owner!
Tell me about yourself! Who is Danny McKee?
Danny McKee has always been a very hardworking person. I've always tried to work with what was given to me to work with, in terms of my intellect and tenacity. I put one foot in front of the next and I keep moving forward and I do the best I can. I'm very resourceful and I want to achieve great things. I want to empower those around me to as well.
How did you get started in the aviation industry? What was your background before starting APA Services?
I got started in the aviation industry by my first job at Lockheed Martin. And at Lockheed, I worked on the F16. I built landing gear doors, I worked in the electrical bays, I did various jobs at Lockheed. I was there for approximately 8 years. My background was an auto mechanic, pretty much. My grandfather had Texaco service stations and I worked for him from the time I was about 12 years old. I grew up doing that and worked a couple other jobs before I went to Lockheed, but that was probably the one that kind of shaped me in the direction of aviation going forward.
Were you always interested in aviation or did the opportunity just present itself?
It really was the opportunity because I didn't think much about airplanes at the time. I can remember growing up wanting to be a truck driver as a kid. I thought it'd be great to be a long haul truck driver, I thought that'd be fun. I used to watch the show Moving On about these two truck drivers with all their activities and things they ran into along the way. But no, Lockheed was obviously a great company to work for and it was a good opportunity for me so I jumped into it. With my mechanical background it was a good fit and I learned kind of how aviation works, at least from an assembly and factory standpoint. It was good.
Why did you start APA Services?
When I got laid off from Lockheed after being there 8 years, I went to work for a contract agency, just like APA. I went to work at Gulfstream Aerospace as a contractor and when I got out there and I was working 6 months, a year, I kind of figured out that their strategy was they brought a lot of contractors in and I found out that was really a thing. At the time, I was dating my wife and we were attempting to get married and I was looking to come back to Texas. I was in Savannah, Georgia where Gulfstream was. And I was trying to figure out what I would do. So I thought you know what, being from the entrepreneurial family that I'm from, I thought this was something I can do. So we put a plan together and I saw how they were doing it at Gulfstream and I learned as much as I could and came back to Texas and we started the company. It was just what we would do together as husband and wife. I developed a love for aviation when I was at Gulfstream and they taught me a lot of things. I learned about myself and what I could accomplish. And they put a lot of faith in me as a contractor, I wasn't a direct employee but they put me in charge of teams in many cases it was in charge of a lot of the direct employees.
What do you think sets APA apart from other contract houses?
Well, a few things. One thing that sets us apart is we try to go by the book. Just like in aviation, you got to go by the book or people could get hurt. Compliance with aviation related mandates like the FAA Drug and Alcohol program through the department of transportation, that's a very important aspect of what we do and we take it very seriously. The other thing that sets us apart is, well again we try to run a clean operation and we want to make sure the contractor understands what the expectations are and that we can provide them the service plan that they want and need. The industry is very competitive and people will throw a lot of things out sporadically for the short lived time. I think the big thing that separates us from how we operate is our Constant Cash program. Constant Cash has been developed to be a permanent staple in the APA offerings and that it is a something where if you become bought in to APA and you help APA grow, APA will reward you constantly through the Constant Cash payment program.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Well that depends on which job you're talking about. Because I wear many hats. I have to run the business -- my job is running the business itself. And then I have to get involved in other things sometimes like sales or account management or customer relations or contractor communications. I feel like I'm responsible for everyone who works at the company, so it can be very stressful at times, but it's really rewarding. My job is something I've been able to create and other people have been able to benefit from, like having a job and being able to work and grow with the company. So maybe the satisfaction from where we've started and how we've grown the company and to be able to let other people be part of it. And to empower, I like to empower people to do their job too. I don't like to be the micromanager, I just like the job to get done. So what I like best about my job is having good people that work for me that I can feel like they will do the job and I don't have to worry about it.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
It depends if you're talking about the past or the future but in general, I think Edison, Thomas Edison. Growing up, he was an inventor obviously and he talked about, there was a quote by Edison and I can't remember exactly but it has something to do with every failed attempt is one step forward to success. So that's kind of the way I've lived my life. I will try and I will continue to try and I'll change my methods but eventually I'll get to a place where I'm successful. So I'd say Thomas Edison from early on. More recently, I would say Elon Musk. I like Elon Musk. He's inspirational to me, he's able to accomplish a lot.
What is the best advice that someone has ever given you?
You know, I've gotten a lot of advice from people in my day. Along the way, my grandfather would always tell me, find out what you're good at and stick with it and keep going in that direction. That's one piece of advice that I got that I always kind of live by. I don't try to move in too many directions, I like to stay in a lane and branch out from that lane.
If you had to work in another position here at APA, what position would you do and why?
Well, what I would really like to do is to be the person who is kind of the head strategist of where we're going to take the company. And that is part of my job, but sometimes I don't get to focus on that too much. I like looking at the big picture to vantage what the next step would be for APA. What job is that? Maybe that’s a chief challenge officer or something like that. But that's what I like, I like thinking about the different things we can do and the different ways we can branch and be more successful in the things we do. But, life happens. You have things that go wrong in this world, the emergencies and COVID pandemics, you get taken off track and you have to go to the fire and become a fireman. And I've been a fireman for many years working for APA, putting out the fires. I want to be able to move out of that and be more of a 50,000 feet in the air looking down, big picture type of person.
Alright, a fun question! If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Well I think it has to be close to the ocean. Someone asked me that here not too long ago, what beach would you like to live on. And I picked Turks and Caicos. Most beautiful beach in the world as far as I could see and the most beautiful water. It's amazing. When you go to a dock and look down it's just this blue water that doesn't even look real.
And last but not least, what’s your favorite airplane and why?
I think it depends on what I was going to do with that airplane. I think Dassault Falcon Jet is my favorite maker of airplanes, so I would probably say that a Falcon 900 EX would probably be one of my favorite airplanes.
Congratulations to Danny and Jan McKee for 24 years of success with APA Services!