Director of interiors and
cabinet maker, Flying Colours
St Louis, Missouri
businessjet inter iorsinternat ional . com 043
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS CRAFT?
My career started with an aviation and composite
programme at Pima College in Tucson, Arizona. I was
hired right out of school in 1999 to work in Bombardier’s
interior backshops in Tucson. After four years I moved
to their facility in Wichita, Kansas, where I was the shop
floor lead of the interior backshops and then Learjet
completions supervisor, as well as flight supervisor,
and leading methods and continuous improvement. In
2013 I started at Jet Aviation St Louis as manager of
upholstery, trim, cabinet and finish shops, and in 2017
became director of interiors at Flying Colours Corp (FCC),
where I enjoy leading the cabinetry department.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?
From edge banding to veneering, cabinet makers must
combine creativity with precision, committing to tight
tolerances and zero defects to best show the beauty of
the wood. Nothing is cooler than watching the gradual
transformation of sheets of composite panels and
veneer into high-quality cabinets.
Another thing I have loved throughout my career, and
especially at FCC, is working with such talented people.
The FCC cabinet shop averages more than 10 years of
expertise building aircraft cabinets per employee.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
Aircraft interiors are more complex than ever, we live in
an instant gratification society and so the downtime for
completion keeps getting shorter. It’s also challenging
to retain true craftsmanship as it meets contemporary
technology, but we understand why we need to do so
and take pride in making it work.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY TASKS?
I monitor the progress of projects and clear road blocks
for my teams. It’s also vital the working environment
is safe. I’m also involved in bids, helping customers
understand what is needed to achieve their desired look.
Cabinet making starts with CNC programming and
cutting. We assemble the pieces to make the shell,
adding hinges, latches and other furnishings as needed,
then install the veneers, laminates and edging. We then
take the cabinet apart again to complete painting and
finishing in our dedicated spray booths. This requires
masking off sections for painting.
In finishing cabinets we repeat a sand, spray
and cure process that takes at least 24 hours and is
repeated as many times as necessary. Once ready the
cabinet is sanded and buffed by hand. Detailing and the
installation of harness and components happens
at this point. The cabinet is then assembled and all
details are checked. Cabinet making requires patience
and attention to detail. Sometimes the daily tasks
become nightly tasks too. On one project we had to
move some of the team to night shift for a few weeks.
Our team is very positive, and we always aim to deliver
on time and budget. Being director of the cabinetry
team really blends the skills of a craftsman with the
commercial acumen of a businessmen.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I’m always very proud to deliver a top-quality product.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR
PEOPLE STARTING IN THIS CAREER?
If you are a cabinet maker you can also be a salesperson,
a business person and support marketing activity, so
don’t pigeonhole yourself. Always take the opportunities
presented. For example FCC is always looking for new
faces; we have a great apprentice programme where
we start training on day one. The hands-on approach
is a great way to learn.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU, AND
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
One surprise is the difference between how we built
interiors when I started and how we do things today.
Today we are faster and use more technology, but we
still rely on skilled cabinet makers, upholstery techs
and finishers to complete world-class interiors.