It’s a surprisingly warm Friday afternoon in September at Trenton Mercer Airport in New Jersey. As the flight crew of a Beechjet 400A begins their pre-flight checks in preparation for a seamlessly executed 1:30PM departure, Michigan Wolverines head coach, Jim Harbaugh, is likely doing some preparation of his own 600 miles away. In less than 24 hours, more than 100,000 fans will pile into the nation’s largest college football venue to cheer on their team as they have for 138 years. There is something special, almost nostalgic, about attending a Wolverine football game. Expectations are always high for the team with the most all-time wins in college history; their fight song roars loud.
A proud grandfather and his guests are en route to Trenton Mercer Airport, excited to make their way to Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti (a suburb outside of metro Detroit) – just 14 miles from the stadium. This will be his first time attending a Wolverines football game, and sharing the experience with not only his grandson, but with his own son as well, is truly a special memory that will carry through generations. The anticipation is high as he kisses his wife, Bonnie goodbye and begins his journey to Trenton Mercer Airport. Fifteen minutes later he greets his son in the private terminal (FBO), and is greeted by his friendly Captain who is a familiar face.
“Hello Allen! Great to see you, Sir.” says Captain Scott.
Allen makes no mention of the purpose of the flight this afternoon, but Captain Scott continues.
“Are you ready for the Michigan game?”
A pleasantly surprised smile comes across Allen’s face.
“Yes! We are very excited about the game. It will be our first time watching the Wolverines live!”
The group makes their way onto the tarmac to board the plane which is just feet from the door of the terminal. Allen and his guests board first. They look to their left, and give a quick hello to their Second in Command, John. John is another familiar face who is attentively going through his pre-flight safety check, but pauses for a moment to offer a wave and a welcoming smile. As they turn to their right and make their way into the cabin of the seven passenger jet, their eyes light up. Wolverine blue and yellow pour throughout the cabin. A silver platter with an abundance of Michigan helmets, footballs, and logoed cookies sit welcoming on one of the plush leather seats. A travel cooler, Michigan branded of course, nestles neatly between two of the seats. As the passengers sit, they are pleased to see that the cooler has already been stocked with their preferred beverages and ice, ready for the pre-game festivities that may be in store. As the doors close, engines turn, and the aircraft slowly begins to make its way down the taxi way. Allen turns to his son with a smile and simply says, “Amazing.” The journey to Detroit will be slightly over 60 minutes, however Allen and his guests’ experience has already begun. Although they have yet to leave New Jersey, they already have a taste of what’s in store for this iconic college football experience on which they are about to embark.
It’s Saturday morning and kick off is just hours away. Allen makes his way to his grandson’s fraternity house to meet him and his fellow brothers. In stow are the left over cookies from the flight and his new, neatly-packed, Wolverine travel cooler. When he arrives he is enthusiastically greeted by his grandson and a handful of rowdy fraternity brothers who are excited for the visit, and have been preparing all morning to play 12th man at their massive home stadium. Allen is in awe and very much enjoys the boys’ level of excitement. He places the football themed cookies on the counter and laughs at how fast they disappear, and at how much they are enjoyed. He is an instant star at the fraternity!
The magnitude of the crowd is humbling and chilling all at the same time. Michigan is able to defeat Air Force in a less than pretty victory, but a victory nonetheless. This of course making the experience and journey that much sweeter. The crowd of over 100,000 football fans, most of them toting the family blue and yellow, finally make their way out of the stadium. For many, the celebration of winning tradition has just begun. For Allen, the satisfaction of having been a part of this tradition is full in his heart. He and his guests leave the campus and head to a post-game dinner before making their way back to Trenton Mercer Airport where this once-in-a-lifetime experience began just 24 hours ago. They are pleased and impressed when his grandson strolls into the restaurant to join them. Time is sacred enough, and anyone with a child or loved one in college understands that it is more difficult to share time as our young ones begin to shape their own lives and form their own relationships. “Anthony, I don’t know how he did it. He joined us for dinner after a full day of drinking and celebrating,” Allen says. I can hear the appreciation and value of that time in his voice.
After a dinner full of stories, game re-caps, and high fives, Allen is ready to make his way home – back to his wife, Bonnie of 54 years with whom he also values every moment. He hugs his grandson tightly and thanks him for showing him around Michigan University, and including him in one of the most iconic experiences in collegiate athletics. The passengers make their way back to the executive terminal at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti and are once again greeted by the familiar smile of Captain John. He eagerly walks up to Allen.
“Ready for departure when you are, Sir.”
Allen gives a very satisfied smile and says,
“Let’s go home, Captain.”
As Allen takes his favorite seat aboard the Beechjet 400A he is so familiar with, he turns again to his son with whom he was able to share this experience with, and says,
“That is how you create amazing.”
I called Allen that week to see how he enjoyed his first Michigan Wolverines football game. We had spoken several weeks prior to that call to catch up, and he shared his excitement on how he was looking forward to spending time with son and grandson. The emotion felt in the conversation made it clear that this was truly a special event in Allen’s life. I mentioned Allen’s excitement to members of the Magellan Jets Flight Support team, and with no guidance or request, they immediately sprang into action and worked together to not only make sure everyone knew why Allen was traveling to Michigan, but how to make that special experience begin before he got to his destination. He shared this story with me as I was not aware of the extra time and attention that went into the flight.
Allen shared another story of how he had left a conference where the theme was “Create Amazing.” He described that the reason he has remained a member at Magellan Jets for so many years is not due to the aircraft used or benefits of the program, but because every team member truly wanted to “Create Amazing” with every interaction he had with anyone at the organization.
I was so inspired by this story and the sincerity and passion he expressed, I was compelled to add “Create Amazing” to our company core values. I immediately shared this story with several departments and members of the leadership team, and we were in unanimous agreement that “Create Amazing” needed to be engrained throughout the organization. The funny thing was, our team members were already doing it! “Create Amazing” in our organization is not just customer facing. It will be engrained in every interaction and everything we do.
We’re passionate about the fact that our colleagues truly have an amazing experience during their journey at Magellan Jets. Our vendors and aircraft partners are equally important in our pursuit to ensure an amazing experience. If our colleagues and partners have an amazing experience, then our customers will certainly have an amazing experience. We will seek to “Create Amazing” in everything we do. No amazing action is too small or too large. It may be as simple as an amazing smile while passing each other in the hallway, or acknowledging a special event in a customer’s life, or only working with partners that share our amazing enthusiasm.
As much as Allen has appreciated Magellan Jets as his aviation provider, I have appreciated his story sharing……and amazing was created!
Anthony Tivnan, President