John Albers, president and CEO of Albers Aerospace, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the company’s rebrand from the Albers Group as well as his growth initiatives and capabilities in manufacturing and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) training.
In addition, Albers also discussed the recent acquisition of Heritage Aviation and its impact on systems engineering, manned and unmanned aviation services. He also revealed the core values of Albers Aerospace’s culture and his perspective on continuing to develop his workforce during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
“I want to continue as a leader to evaluate our capabilities and look for different ways that we can improve as technology continues to develop. There will be new things that make us more effective against our near peer threats. Despite being a small company, we think about that and we want to work hard to deliver that value.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with John Albers below:
ExecutiveBiz: In January, the company rebranded from The Albers Group to Albers Aerospace. What can you tell us about the company’s rebranding, how it feeds into your company’s growth initiatives and expands your capabilities and services in manufacturing and ISR training?
“I’m thrilled and appreciate the opportunity to talk about our incredible company and team. When I started the company back in 2015, I named it ‘The Albers Group.’ At the time, I didn’t want to spend a ton of time thinking about a name, but I’d get a lot of questions about our company and I wanted to have something more descriptive.
As our company has grown and our strategy has begun to include acquisitions and other bigger areas of business, our executive team and myself looked at our company and how we have been evolving our capabilities and portfolio over time.
We felt that Albers Aerospace better described our mission and I’ve always said we were an aerospace and defense company. We’re very excited about the name change. It’s been well received so far and we’re excited to see where it takes us.
I also believe it provides our customers a better view of what we do very quickly. As they learn more about us and our increased capabilities, we believe they’ll come seek us out. We want to be a one-stop-shop for that broad spectrum of capability.
Our story is that I was fortunate enough to be a test pilot in the Marine Corps. After that tour, in the back half of my career, I became an acquisition professional. So, I was the customer once and when I sat in that role and contemplated post-active duty, I knew what I wanted to see as the customer.
I was inspired and believed that with the right team I could be the company I wanted when I was in uniform. That is when I knew I wanted to start my own thing and my daily drive is trying to create the company I wanted to have when I was the customer.
That’s really the core of our passion and our focus is to be the company that you think of when you think about value. Our vision statement is to ‘Inspire Others and Deliver Value.’ We want to be inspirational to each other as a team and I want our leaders to be inspirational to their folks. The belief is that will make us inspirational to our customers as well.
I was a warfighter and so were many of our company execs. We have sons and daughters, or nephews and friends still in uniform and we want to ensure they have the best. We care a lot about this country and we’re doing our part to enhance their efforts to accomplish the mission.”
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on the acquisition of Heritage Aviation back in Dec. How does that acquisition also impact your growth strategy as well as advancements in your systems engineering, manned and unmanned aviation services and aerospace manufacturing?
“I believe that Heritage Aviation will be a significant accelerant in our growth. There aren’t many companies like us, a small service-disabled vet company with this broad spectrum of capabilities. I say that with humility, not hubris because our focus is on value.
We’re very fortunate that we have business relationships with almost all of the tier one primes and we’re working on building relationships with those we don’t do business with. We really want to bring value. We see that in not only what we deliver but looking at other ways that we can partner with government agencies to bring enhanced services or capabilities.
Heritage Aviation was significant because it brought the ability for us to say that we can do the manufacturing. We can help design it with our engineering team, we have maintenance capabilities buried in the team too and when you combine that with AS9100D manufacturing we become a compelling potential vendor for our customers and that will be enhancing and growing over time.
We’re certainly a small player, but as you look at unmanned systems and Heritage Aviation with our core engineering and operations experience, it’s really a powerful combination. Growth in business is obviously important and we’ve had astronomical growth over the last three years.
I try to be measured in my expectations and we obviously want to continue to grow. We actually grew 320 percent from 2018 to 2021 and our year end revenues are through the roof. Our team deserves all the credit for their effort in getting things done while at the corporate leadership level we focused on adding complementary but not duplicative capability.
In this sector, acquisitions create another level of growth. Our focus is on strategically driving our innovative technologies over the coming year to accelerate their development. That way we can get our capabilities into the hands of our warfighters faster.
We’re taking the two platforms that we recently acquired and we are pouring our business development, expertise and core capabilities into them to enable more service offerings, more partnering. We focus on cost control and growth investment.
We are cost competitive and thinking through that element is something we do every single day. We have made significant strides this year in our cost structures through the addition of a few key teammates to our staff.
I’ll say that we have aggressive growth targets and goals for 2022. We want to continue to grow aggressively and continue to look for other acquisition targets as time goes on. The challenge is to stay focused on executing while looking forward to the future. From a leadership perspective, I keep my focus on the team and developing them and delivering great value to our customers.
I’m more interested in what our customers need versus what we can deliver. We know that what we deliver is great. We can always improve, but the most important thing to the customer is achieving their needs, not what we do. We try to focus on that first because that’s how you deliver value for the customer first and then our growth objectives can be achieved.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values that are important to your company’s culture? How has your team developed its workflow and ability to drive success in such a competitive market?
“I’m a retired Marine. So, obviously, the Marine Corps taught me a lot about leadership. I haven’t forgotten those lessons because I think they were and are applicable across the spectrum. At the end of the day, people are people.
Culture is something important to people and I learned the importance of being a good leader and understanding what good leadership can achieve when it’s applied in a team context. As the leader of Albers Aerospace, we’ve been a geographically dispersed company from the beginning so I’ve been challenged to lead and build a culture in a remote context from the beginning.
The daily process of leading a geographically dispersed team and developing a culture is hard work. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about how to do it and experimenting as a leader. We hold culture as a key piece of our competitive advantage. We value culture as high as capability.
In business there’s a lot of emphasis on capabilities, but it’s our culture that enhances them and makes them valuable and deliverable to our customers to support their needs. We spend a lot of time thinking about our culture and how it enhances our business and makes us better.
We don’t use the term ’employees.’ We’re teammates. I have a philosophy about business execution. I’m a hockey guy. On the Washington Capitals (my team), the center doesn’t call his wingman a fellow employee of the Washington Capitals, he calls him his teammate or linemate. He’s a winger with the role of a winger and the center is the center, but they’re on the same team and they win or lose together.
I apply the same principles to my team here at Albers Aerospace. I was a Marine and a senior officer. We have structure and an organization chart to know who and where everyone is, but the people and their roles are what’s important, not where you sit on a chart.
Every role is important. The people who are working directly with the customer are probably more important than me. They’re the ones that are actually doing that interface and winning the customer over in delivering the value of the service, the product, whatever it is that we’re doing.
It’s a privilege and a great responsibility to be a leader in this company. I’m very happy to lead and drive folks to great accomplishments as well as fulfillment in them of being the best version of themselves with our company. Some days are hard, right? That’s part of living in the world, but I want our people to be excited and motivated about their jobs with Albers Aerospace.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does your company ensure long term success for your workforce to drive value for your teammates as you continue to face the uphill challenge to recruit and retain the best talent in the federal marketplace?
“I believe that addressing our recruiting challenges is about offering a culture that supports the basic needs of our people. You have to pay people in the context of the market, but you can pay people really well and they’ll eventually find the juice isn’t worth the squeeze if the culture isn’t inspiring and the leadership is terrible.
We all want to live a life of impact. We want to know that we did something significant and I believe that it’s our responsibility as leaders to create that sense of purpose in our company. We can retain those people that are fulfilled and they will be prepared to do great things for our warfighters.
As leaders we want to focus on our teammates and ensure they feel valued. I’m talking about real value and impact. Our core values are innovation, dedication, excellence and stewardship. Let’s be innovative in our thinking and our approach to work because that’s how we bring value.
Stewardship is important. Be a good steward of our resources, time and dedication to each other as well as the mission to be successful. Be dedicated to our teammates. If we work on being dedicated to each other, we can get the best out of our people and help them create an environment to be the best version of themselves.
Assume the best. People make mistakes, but don’t assume the worst. We should be pushing each other to be better. We’re not perfect at it, but we try to evaluate how we can do things better internally. Striving for excellence and perfection is important. We know we can’t reach that goal. We’re human beings, so we will fail, but we can push each other and strive for perfection.
I think the mix of our culture, our values, and our leadership philosophy along with our capabilities and company growth thus far is very attractive to people and will help retain talent. People want to be a part of a winning team.
Our people are why we’ve achieved the results that we have to date. I had a vision, but we got great people on this team that bought into it and the rest is history.
I’d argue our team achieved beyond my vision. It’s honestly better because it’s not just my vision. They get to plug into it and improve and enhance it. We’ve been able to attract great people who have achieved a great deal. I think we will continue to do so in the future. I am blessed to be the point man for such a great group of people.”