After 40 years as an FBO owner and 50 years as a licensed pilot, I had to ask myself why I had not only agreed to—but volunteered to—assume the responsibility for leading FABA from Paula Raeburn?
The short answer is none of us in private aviation in Florida can afford to be without FABA!
My company has been a member of FATA/FABA for well over 65 years, and although my memory only goes back for 40 of those years, I can recall many times when this association has been HUGELY IMPORTANT to the success—if not the survival—of our business and probably yours.
• Our state’s aviation businesses united and spoke as one during the critical months after the Arab Oil Embargo of the ‘70s, when quotas and price controls were installed.
• We raised hell together when, during the Nixon Phase 4 price controls of the late 70s, the government simply forgot aviation when they cancelled all other controls except ours.
• We rallied together again in the 80s to fight for airport improvement funding from the State of Florida and allowed longer-term leases to encourage private investment in our airports.
• We pulled together and successfully lobbied for the exclusion of public airport property from ad-valorem taxes—a fight we have had to repeat several times. This success alone has saved our FBO over $100,000 a year for decades! Of course, this also means all of the FBO tenants in our state have benefitted from lower rents, since this cost didn’t need to be recouped from leasehold customers.
But the FABA success stories that have benefitted us all are not just back in history, they continue to improve our businesses today!
• One of our finest hours was in 2012, when after years of great groundwork by our FABA funded lobbying team we were able to obtain sales tax exclusions for aircraft maintenance and renewal work. It is estimated that this change has lowered the cost to aircraft owners in the state by $12,000,000.00 per year! This has benefitted the aircraft owner and virtually every aircraft business in the state. I’m not talking just FBOs here, but aircraft owners and pilots, paint shops, maintenance businesses, flight schools, charter companies and parts sellers.
So what’s my point?
FABA NEEDS YOUR HELP. The economy has been tough on us all. It has left FABA with fewer members
and scarce resources. We must increase our membership. I’m asking each of you that are members to look around your airport and those that surround you. Ask your tenants to consider joining FABA. Ask your competitor to join! ALL of us lose if FABA can’t continue to represent our industry’s interests. When the fast paced legislative session gets underway each year, FABA’s proven lobbying team in Tallahassee gives us all the POWER of one voice when legislation needs to be passed or blocked!
We have restructured the membership dues to make it easier for the smaller businesses on our airports, as well as the vendors that count on airports for their livelihoods, to become FABA members. I have agreed to serve as Executive Director for the next year at no cost in the hopes that we can rebuild our financial reserves and help insure that FABA is here for our businesses for years to come.
If you would like to have some printed material to use with your neighboring businesses or would like a membership application for FABA, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (321) 383-9662. If you know of a business that should be a member but don’t want to ask them yourself, give me their names by emailing the contact information to email@example.com.
Lastly, I am planning some regional visits in the coming months. Let me know if you are interested in having one of these events at your place of business. It means a lot when a respected member of the industry like you hosts a FABA event.
It is my belief that failure is not an option. If I’ve convinced you too, please help FABA grow!
Bob Showalter, FABA Executive Director