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He is however, under no delusions about his company’s position in the industry. “I do almost exactly what three other US based companies do. We all know who they are so no need to go naming them” (he laughs). “But you know, we’re kind of like golf buddies” he says. We all know each other and we all like one another, but at the end of the day “I want to kick their tail and they want to kick mine. But competition is good. It keeps us all on our toes and the ultimate winner in any competitive environment, is the customer.”
“I always had an interest in the private aircraft market” says Butler “mainly from a design and a creativity standpoint. A luxury interior simply commands those more sophisticated themes. Commercial airline interiors, by and large in economy class, are kind of the bus and while that’s great and it’s a valuable part of our makeup – the private space is different; elevated not only in the sophistication of the product itself, but in price point.”
So, one thing led to another, and I thought there may be an opportunity for us in the private aircraft market. But my missing link was the right kind of carpet. One of our customers who specialized in yacht refurbs had a range of carpets which I happened to stumble across by accident - very high-quality wool broadloom tufted carpets. I knew we could get them flame treated to meet vertical burn specs. We also had some nylon carpets for Part 91 aircraft. So that gave me the missing piece I had been looking for to enter the private aircraft market. We already had fabrics, we had leather, we had sheepskin, we had foam. When the carpets fell into place, I felt like we had finally reached the place where we could truly offer our customers the sort of A to Z product line that I had always envisioned.”
We are already working on expanding our product portfolio with OEMs to serve eVTOL, supersonic, hypersonic, and space transportation aircraft.
“So, is that to say you view carpet as one of the cornerstone components of your business?” I asked.
“Yes, I call it the foundation. It's on the floor, right? Everything else builds from there, so in that sense yes, from a product array standpoint, carpet in integral. Customers expect it from any company claiming to be a one-stop shop. And from a creative standpoint, many designers also begin with carpet, in terms of material selection.”
“I also wanted to talk a little bit about some of the external relationships you've developed, companies whose products are now part of your offerings. One of those that comes to mind is plating. I think you have an ongoing relationship with Signature Plating in San Antonio. Is that right?”
“Yes, we do have an ongoing partnership with Signature and we’re very proud of that. Beyond that, most of our products are private labeled, meaning we often source from companies that aren't traditionally involved in the aviation business but whose products are very high quality and otherwise merely in need of treating for aircraft certification. We can do that here, so it keeps the cost down for us and our customers.
“We also buy foam from a company that is more of a commercial airline cushion and dress cover manufacturer based in California. Another supplier whose range of products is a stable part of our product line is Lantal. I mentioned them earlier and that's who trained me in the aviation industry. They have a manufacturing facility about 20 minutes from us. We've got a good relationship with them where they produce fabrics for us that are again customized private label fabrics.
Our leather supplier is Wollsdorf Leather. They have several locations around the world, including a tannery in Austria and another brand-new state-of-the-art tannery in Mexico that supports automotive and the high-end furniture markets. Wollsdorf offers a leather that is flame-treated “in the drum” simultaneously with the dyeing process. This product is called Ambassador and we keep it stocked in 35 colors. It's bulletproof and a great product for commercial airlines in particular”. We also offer some of their furniture leathers and flame treat them. This gives our customers a broad range of colors and grain patterns to offer the aircraft owner.
Robin Butler and customers - sorting through softgood options for a customer.
“Ok, can you put a little finer point on the various aviation segments you service?”
“Sure, so we have a second company called Spectra Interior Products and between the two companies Spectra represents about 20% of our annual sales and it primarily serves commercial airlines and the defense - and when I say commercial, I am also talking about charters and lease returns. That's where a lot of our Spectra product is going.”
“So, is it accurate say that these small and mid-size completion and refurb centers are repeat customers for you now?”
“Oh yes, definitely. This is our biggest segment and so of course, we really put a lot of effort into taking care of them regardless the size of the order(s). We also have one major customer, a very fast-growing charter group based right here in North Carolina. They’re currently refurbishing all their aircraft with identical interiors, so we're supporting that refurbishment with carpet, with passenger seating leather, with all crew seat leather as well as sheepskin, headliner, lower sidewall panels using custom-embossed leathers –the full range of interior products they need.”
“You mentioned that you recently defined a new product segment called ‘Behind the Scenes’. I’m pretty sure I know what the refers to, but can you describe it for our readers?”
“Of course. It's an expansion on what started with our foam product lines. The additional materials in this portfolio include fire blocking fabrics, insulation blankets, panel foams, and other FR materials. These are all of the things that aren't seen in the cabin but are very necessary in making the cabin safer, quieter and more comfortable. We're expanding this range of products to complement our more visible interior products – but at the same time address even more of what our customers need each time they complete or refurbish an aircraft.”
“Lastly Robin, I see on your site where you now also offer Design Services and Renderings. Can you tell us a little about that?”
“Sure. In both cases, these are peripheral support options for our customers. In a naturally occurring sense, our customers’ clients often have trouble visualizing what this carpet or that leather or that plating will look like in the aircraft. With our Rendering Services option, we can quickly respond to that need by simply having the customer send us some photos of the existing interior. We can then have our artists map the new proposed materials onto the photos – thereby providing realistic images of how the cabin will look with the new materials.
“Our Design Services option works in a similar way. Whenever a customer is trying to maximize the available space by making a configuration change or improve the cabin aesthetic, we can also support that with experienced design support.
In both cases, we have provided that extra level of confidence in the decision-making process.”
“Well Robin, I can see the expansion of your product lines even in the relatively short time I’ve known you and been familiar with OmnAvia. But I have to say, I think the big takeaway for me (and I hope for our readers) is the vast experiential background you bring to the table. At the end of the day, anyone can hang out a shingle and claim whatever they want but in order to place your confidence in a company, you like to know that the individual at the helm actually brings that rich experience in backing up the claims.
Unquestionably that’s a part of what you deliver in every product sold.”
I want to thank you for your time. It’s been a pleasure learning more about OmnAvia.
OmnAvia is a “one stop shop” covering virtually the full gamut of aviation interior products, including Carpet, Leather, Izit brand Faux Leathers, Sheepskin, Fabrics, Plating and Anodizing, Foam products and more.
For more information on OmnAvia, visit: omnaviainteriors.com