Avionics News January 2012 - 30

BILL HEMME

Continued from page 29

onics topped out at five employees, including the Hemmes. There were four when he sold the company to DeGroot, his bench tech. “As I remember, bench repair was around 60 percent of total revenues with installations 40 percent,” Hemme said. “During the years, that started slowly shifting” as new electronic devices, from TVs and VCRs to GPS navigators, were built with surface-mount technology, which was both more economical and reliable. Those benefits didn’t extend to shops that did bench repairs and pilots who needed them. “You could tell from the maintenance manuals – written with no intent to be understandable to try and fix those things in the field – that the factories did not want or intend for the shops to try and repair any radio built with surface-mount technology,” Hemme said. “Rather than trouble-shooting to the component level, you replaced the whole circuit board. Those circuit boards cost a thousand or two-thousand dollars. For an unlucky pilot-owner who suffered a failure, it didn’t seem to be an advantage to him.” Hemme returned to the Spencer Avionics bench in 2004. He succeeded a full timer who retired and only works when something needs repairs. “We can repair 80 percent of the radios that come in,” Hemme said. Getting parts is the challenge. King made more than 100,000 radios in the KX-170 series, now 30 years old. “King still makes some parts for it, and an Oklahoma company, ICM, builds crystals to King specs, but eventually it will all go the way of the Narco Mark 12; I haven’t seen one of those for more than 10 years.” To ensure a smooth transition with the sale, Hemme worked for DeGroot for a full year. With free time formerly spent running the business, Hemme filled some of it by starting a part-time business, Avionics Training LLC. Approachcertified GPS units were the must-have boxes then, and by customer questions, “I could tell that flight instructors were not prepared to teach pilots how to use them,” Hemme said. “I understood the King and Garmin units at the time, so I set up the course” for instrument-rated pilots and marketed it though a website. Typically, pilots would fly to Spencer, and Hemme would transfer their GPS to a simulator box for several hours of ground school in a terminal conference room. “When they understood the process, we’d put the GPS back in the airplane and go fly…and the guy would go home understanding how to set up and fly his GPS on approaches,” Hemme said.
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He closed the operation two years ago, when new boxes superseded the units he taught. “The domain name, AvionicsTraining.com, is for sale,” he said. During this time, he also wrote avionics-related articles for the Iowa Office of Aviation publications and was a member of its pilot feedback committee in 2005. Hemme is still online, dispensing his avionics wisdom through a number of forums, from the American Bonanza Society and Beech Talk to RV.net for those building kits from Van’s Aircraft. In 1982, Spencer Avionics bought a 1964 Beech S35, a classic V-tail Bonanza. By mutual desire and agreement, it was the only asset not sold with the company. “I’ve owned it for 29 years, longer than the three previous owners combined, Hemme said.” When transporting customers home or to pick up their airplanes at the shop, Hemme averaged 120 hours a year. In retirement, he logs around 50, a lot of it at night. “I don’t fly IFR much anymore, but I’m current if I need to.”

As we connected the highlights of (Hemme’s) life, it was quickly clear that an all-encompassing analysis of its challenges and opportunities determined its path.

Knoxville Raceway, southeast of Des Moines, Iowa, is Hemme’s frequent destination. “I’m a big sprint car racing nut. If I drive down there, it’s 4 hours, 15 minutes; if I fly, it’s only an hour. If they are racing for three or four nights in a row, then I’ll use the motor home.” Hemme bought the 26-foot Born Free, built in nearby Humbolt, 11 years ago. After exploring warm weather refuge in the Florida Keys and Texas from January to the end of March, “my wife and I have settled on the Phoenix area as the best choice for us.” With more than 600 members, the Born Free Leap’n Lions RV Club holds rallies across North America, “so we travel to some of those,” Hemme said. The club has an expansive website, and “I keep myself busy as the website administrator. When I’m done with this call, I am going down to the basement office to check on the progress of a big update to the Born Free website.” q

•

january

2012


http://www.AvionicsTraining.com http://www.AvionicsTraining.com http://www.RV.net

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News January 2012

Point of Communication
AEA Now
The View From Washington
International News and Regulatory Updates
Rockwell Collins' Fusion Upgrades
Member Profile
Where Are They Now?
Before & After
Next Step in the GPS Battle
A Conversation With...
Touchscreen Avionics: Training Required
Sounding Off On Audio Panels
Member Profile
Advertisers Index
Aviation Aces
Business Basics
Meet the AEA Board
Theory & Practice
Legal Ease
Special Report
What's New
Marketplace Classifieds
Avionics News January 2012 - Cover1
Avionics News January 2012 - Cover2
Avionics News January 2012 - 1
Avionics News January 2012 - 2
Avionics News January 2012 - 3
Avionics News January 2012 - Point of Communication
Avionics News January 2012 - 5
Avionics News January 2012 - AEA Now
Avionics News January 2012 - 7
Avionics News January 2012 - 8
Avionics News January 2012 - 9
Avionics News January 2012 - 10
Avionics News January 2012 - 11
Avionics News January 2012 - 12
Avionics News January 2012 - 13
Avionics News January 2012 - The View From Washington
Avionics News January 2012 - 15
Avionics News January 2012 - International News and Regulatory Updates
Avionics News January 2012 - 17
Avionics News January 2012 - 18
Avionics News January 2012 - 19
Avionics News January 2012 - Rockwell Collins' Fusion Upgrades
Avionics News January 2012 - 21
Avionics News January 2012 - 22
Avionics News January 2012 - 23
Avionics News January 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News January 2012 - 25
Avionics News January 2012 - 26
Avionics News January 2012 - 27
Avionics News January 2012 - Where Are They Now?
Avionics News January 2012 - 29
Avionics News January 2012 - 30
Avionics News January 2012 - Before & After
Avionics News January 2012 - Next Step in the GPS Battle
Avionics News January 2012 - 33
Avionics News January 2012 - A Conversation With...
Avionics News January 2012 - 35
Avionics News January 2012 - Touchscreen Avionics: Training Required
Avionics News January 2012 - 37
Avionics News January 2012 - 38
Avionics News January 2012 - 39
Avionics News January 2012 - Sounding Off On Audio Panels
Avionics News January 2012 - 41
Avionics News January 2012 - 42
Avionics News January 2012 - 43
Avionics News January 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News January 2012 - 45
Avionics News January 2012 - 46
Avionics News January 2012 - Advertisers Index
Avionics News January 2012 - Aviation Aces
Avionics News January 2012 - 49
Avionics News January 2012 - 50
Avionics News January 2012 - 51
Avionics News January 2012 - Business Basics
Avionics News January 2012 - 53
Avionics News January 2012 - 54
Avionics News January 2012 - 55
Avionics News January 2012 - Meet the AEA Board
Avionics News January 2012 - 57
Avionics News January 2012 - 58
Avionics News January 2012 - 59
Avionics News January 2012 - Theory & Practice
Avionics News January 2012 - 61
Avionics News January 2012 - Legal Ease
Avionics News January 2012 - 63
Avionics News January 2012 - Special Report
Avionics News January 2012 - 65
Avionics News January 2012 - 66
Avionics News January 2012 - 67
Avionics News January 2012 - 68
Avionics News January 2012 - 69
Avionics News January 2012 - What's New
Avionics News January 2012 - 71
Avionics News January 2012 - 72
Avionics News January 2012 - 73
Avionics News January 2012 - Marketplace Classifieds
Avionics News January 2012 - 75
Avionics News January 2012 - 76
Avionics News January 2012 - Cover3
Avionics News January 2012 - Cover4
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