Charter Stories: Gary Prince

Gary Prince is the recently retired CEO of Bimbo Bakeries USA, the nation’s largest baking company. Overseeing popular brands that include Entenmann’s, Thomas’, Boboli, Arnold, Friehofer’s, Stroehmann, and Sara Lee requires overseeing more than 65 bakeries and 25,000 associates throughout the United States. Since 2001, Mr. Prince relied on Leading Edge charters to get him and his teams to Bimbo sites all along the eastern seaboard.

“We started in 2001 with weekly trips from Doylestown to our facilities in Long Island,” recalls Prince. “Then, we expanded to all throughout the northeast to visit our bakeries, offices, markets, and customers.” Destinations included Boston, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, upstate New York, Toronto, Chicago, and Florida. “We chose charter because it gives you the flexibility to travel at a moment’s notice, whenever you want,” Prince continues. “There’s no waiting in lines, no security lines, and you avoid travel and traffic to the major airports, which were pretty far from us. In the Northeast, the flights are short, but with the travel and traffic on the ground, it’s 5-6 hours door-to-door. With Leading Edge, we were there in one hour.”

Prince would routinely fly a full team out in the morning to a meeting in another northeast city then be back at work by noon, or go on to a second—or even third—destination in the same day. “By using Leading Edge charters instead of flying commercial, we could fit more into one day, manage our schedule better, and be more efficient and more productive,” Prince says. “With a charter, the plane is waiting for you. It’s a great way to move teams of people around the east coast for meetings, or site visits. You even get group work time on the plane.”

As far as why he chose Leading Edge, Prince emphasizes convenience and flexibility. “We flew out of a local airport just a few minutes away,” he recalls. “The airport was easy to get to, get in and out of, and had good parking. We set the itinerary. We’d arrive at 7:45 AM for an 8:00 AM departure. Wheels up at 8, hour or less to our destination, and we’re in a meeting before 9:30. Many times, we would go to one city for a morning meeting, then have lunch on the plane, be in a second city for a 1 PM meeting, then back on the plane and home for dinner by 6:30.”

Prince has flown with Leading Edge for almost 15 years and, by his estimate, he’s taken about 1000 Leading Edge charter flights. “In all that time, in every experience, we were well-served by Leading Edge, “ says Prince. “We actually sold the company’s airplane when we started flying with Leading Edge. We got great expertise from Leading Edge in managing our flights; we didn’t need in-house expertise any more. Leading Edge is experienced, with a great team, great people, committed to what they do. Their record speaks for itself.”

Prince also charters with Leading Edge for his personal travel, including weekend trips, for the same reasons as he started his business travel — avoiding long lines, ground transportation hassles, and the inconveniences of air travel on a commercial airline’s schedule. “When we charter, we get more vacation time and less travel time,” Prince affirms. “Many people believe chartering is expensive and that they aren’t good use of cash. But, when you look at the cost of commercial flying today, the cost of time lost to the inconveniences, chartering with Leading Edge is a solid payback on that expense. If you are moving a number of people around, you do the math — a charter becomes very affordable and efficient.”

And, for Prince, efficiency is the bottom line. “There’s great efficiency in chartering with Leading Edge,” he says. “You just become much more productive a company, a leader, a person. It’s all about being productive.”