When Chuck Falce became CEO of Voyager Jet Center, the company was beginning a major construction project that included building an 18,500-square-foot hangar at the Allegheny County Airport.
Falce, who came from the holding company that owns Voyager, was familiar with the private jet charterer. But he had never overseen a construction project.
“As the project was starting to come together, nothing had been built on this airport in 35 years, nothing new of any substance. So, the original plans that had been drawn up previously were then put through additional scrutiny, and long story short, ended up creating about $1 million of additional funding needed for the project,” he says.
The original plans called for a sprinkler system, but the Allegheny County Airport Authority and other organizations told Voyager the building codes now required a fire foam suppression system. It was a 25 percent increase, Falce says.
The original bank wasn’t willing to release additional funds for the project that had already started. That, in turn, made the construction company nervous that it wouldn’t get paid.
Keeping it on track
Falce was tasked with finding a new lender to supply the additional funds.
“It made us extremely nervous, not only from the additional cost — and we were going to need to make sure we had enough revenue going forward to support that additional payment — but the biggest thing was just to trying to make sure that the project stayed on track,” he says.
The company’s more than 50 employees had been talking about the project for a number of years, so they had high expectations.
“People will start asking, ‘Is the project going to get stopped?’ No, we’ll get it done,” Falce says. “In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to get it done?’ but the company line was it will be completed, it will be finished and it will be done on time.”
He talked to a number of banks before finding one that was comfortable with the project and that Voyager was comfortable with in turn. It assumed the first loan and kept the project moving.
But Falce had to communicate with employees, finance people from the various banks, the construction company and Voyager’s owners throughout the process.
“I probably spent the majority of my time just communicating, whether it was in person, whether it was through emails, through phone calls. I felt like I was the traffic cop, trying to keep everybody in the loop so that everyone stayed comfortable,” he says.