Name of owners: Oberman family (Mark, Janie, Mike & Sarah)
Product or service: Private and professional flight training, executive jet charter, aircraft sales and rentals, flights to the Channel Islands National Park, FBO (fixed-based operator) services.
Address: 305 Durley Ave., Camarillo
Date established: Oct. 21, 1976
Hours open: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays through Saturdays
Number of employees: 35
Person answering this: Mark Oberman, founder and owner
What prompted you to start your own business?: I knew the Oxnard Air Force Base had closed in 1970 and was reopening as a general aviation airport, so I moved from Van Nuys to Camarillo to position myself to be on the ground floor when the airport opened. I saw this as my opportunity to turn my hobby — flying — into my career.
What is your educational and career background?: I graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Agricultural Engineering and started working at McDonnell Douglas as an Assistant Engineer Scientist. We worked on rockets — many of which were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base — at a think tank in Marina del Ray. I was a private pilot at the time and after working in the think tank, which had no windows, I realized I wanted to be outside more by combining my hobby and my career.
How much research did you do before starting your own business?: Not nearly as much as I should have. I sort of flew by the seat of my pants. I just thought it would be a good time to start an aviation company. I started flying out of the Oxnard Airport, then moved to Camarillo once the Camarillo Airport opened.
What were the most helpful sources, including websites?: My wife, Janie, was and is the best resource I have. She shares my “can do” attitude. In our industry, very few companies have made it as long as we have — we are the oldest aviation company in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and only about two dozen other aviation companies in the state have been around as long or longer than us. The failure rate is high, but both Janie and I have “can do” attitudes. When we look at business and life, we do not see things as impossible. Those “impossible” things just take longer to accomplish.
When were you the most discouraged?: This last great recession was as discouraging as anything. If it hadn’t have been for one project we helped with—well, that project kept us going. Aviation feels the downturn first and the recovery last because it’s discretionary spending. This was the fifth recession we’ve felt since starting the company, but it was the deepest.
What company or individual do you admire?: There is a big aviation service company in Oregon that I tried to emulate when I first started CIA. We had a paint shop, a parts shop, etc. Then we got involved in Santa Cruz Ranch and the business took a turn. Now I admire Aviation Consultants, Inc. in San Luis Obispo. They do a really good job.
What will make your business stand out from competitors?: We are family-owned; we’ve been here for almost 38 years and are not going anywhere; we are a one-stop shop for general aviation planes and pilots; and our executive charter flights and flight school have a fantastic reputation.
Who is your target client base?: Entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, people in the entertainment industry, the public, business people, professionals, aviation enthusiasts — really everyone.