The sky’s the limit

Published 7:46 pm Saturday, January 23, 2016

Photo submitted / Employees of RAIR, previously known as Executive Air Charter, gather in a hangar in the Brookhaven-Lincoln County airport to hear the unveiling of the new name.

Photo submitted / Employees of RAIR, previously known as Executive Air Charter, gather in a hangar in the Brookhaven-Lincoln County airport to hear the unveiling of the new name.

Since he was a child, Josh Reed has always wanted to fly.

Three years ago, he opened his own air charter company, and recently unveiled a new name for his company, transitioning from Executive Air Charter to RAIR.

Reed got into the air charter business after being dissatisfied with working as an airline pilot.

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“I really loved flying, but I was kind of disappointed at how the work environments were in the industry,” Reed said. “Everybody is just treated like a number, and people don’t really enjoy their jobs. A lot of people love flying, but the work environment — the relationship between company and employee — wasn’t really healthy. That bothered me and took all the fire out of it.”

The Reed family is no stranger to entrepreneurship. His brother, Bernie Reed, owns Reed’s Metals, and his father William Reed owned several businesses of his own.

“Dad liked to tinker,” Reed said. “Bernie started his company, and he’s grown it massively the last 17 years. But dad liked to tinker with little businesses and start them up and get them going.”

When he decided to start his own air charter business, Reed said he wanted to marry his passion for flying with “a drive to build an environment where people enjoy what they do.”

“We want a place that’s enjoyable to work at, and the passion and enjoyment of flying is not lost because of the negative work environment,” Reed said.

Reed said when he started three years ago, with the help of investor Jay Culbertson, it was just him and an airplane.

“I had no experience in the charter business, specifically. But we just learned the business and put it together. At one point we had six or seven airplanes, but we’ve downsized a bit and focused on what we do the best in a specific part of the industry, so we operate three large cabin jets now that have coast-to-coast range. And then we operate one small jet,” he said.

Reed described the old name — Executive Air Charter — as a “mom and pop” name. Reed said he wanted to grow out of that name and expand to the national scale.

“I’m in the weeds so much, in the nitty-gritty every-day — just kind of taking the next step in the process — that I don’t often stop and reflect. But it’s been a fun journey. And we had ambitious goals, and we’re laying the groundwork to really take it to the level. We want to be a national brand like NetJets,” he said.

Reed said he chose the name because he wanted to invoke the feeling that his company was unique.

“We really are a different kind of company than most companies in the industry,” Reed said. “Our purpose is different — it’s not profit driven as much as people driven. … So I liked it because of the meaning, and also because it’s simple.”

Reeds said there isn’t much air charter business coming in and out of Brookhaven, but he’s headquartered here because Brookhaven has become his home.

“I moved here about six years ago with my wife and two kids. I started from there and ended up starting this company. It’s home now. We’ve really settled in and I like it,” he said.

At an event last week at Brookhaven-Lincoln County Airport, Reed unveiled the new name to everyone in the company. Reed said it wasn’t often they were able to get everyone together because employees are stationed all over the country.

“I wholeheartedly believe we’re going to be a 100-aircraft fleet of jets one day,” Reed said.