I recently got the chance to spend a couple of weeks doing some training at SimCom’s Lee Vista training center (one of two such SimCom facilities in Orlando alone), and I had a great time.
The great time was no coincidence: it’s part of SimCom’s business plan. No lie.
SimCom got started as a pure business venture back in 1989 by a small group that included current company CEO Wally David. Several other current SimCom employees were there at or near the beginning, as well. Twenty-one years later, many are still there.
The first customer did his training in a nonmotion Cessna 421 flight training device in 1990. Business was slow at first. Lee Vista training center manager and longtime SimCom employee Tom Evans told me that when customers would come by to check out the place, they would turn on the red “in-use” light on the trainer to make things look busy.
Before long, they didn’t have to bother. Word about SimCom had gotten out and customers, especially owner-flown types, were coming to Orlando to get up to speed on new hardware. Flying saw the promise early on, awarding SimCom an Editor’s Choice Award for its multiengine training.
The success was built on a solid foundation.
From the beginning it was clear to the team that if they were going to compete with the big boys — that is, FlightSafety and SimuFlite — they were going to have to do it by finding strengths that set them apart from their larger competitors.
The three key words they came up with are “value, personal and friendly. “
The most obvious way to begin was by offering training in airplanes that other providers didn’t have or didn’t focus on. By doing this, offering initial and recurrent training in airplanes like the Cessna 421, King Air 200 and Piper Navajo, SimCom was able to attract customers who needed training for familiarization or insurance reasons but who felt more comfortable in a smaller setting.