Insights of Experience: Doug Levangie
Posted on Oct 02, 2014
As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we continuously reflect on the incredible employees who have helped us reach this milestone. This fall, we’re excited to publish a series of interviews and photos with some of our most experienced staff members. We’ve asked these Pentastar employees about their careers at Pentastar and how the business aviation industry has changed during the last several decades. We are titling this series “Insights of Experience.” Look for our ads this fall in Aviation International News and visit the Flight Plan blog to read more of the interviews.
Director of Aviation Advisory Services
29 Years at Pentastar Aviation
His advice to someone pursuing a career in business aviation: “Do it right the first time.”
Those who have worked with Doug Levangie over the past three decades are quick to mention Doug’s legendary sense of humor. In his 29 years at Pentastar, Doug’s career has been quite legendary as well. As one of Pentastar’s most experienced employees, Doug has worn a lot of hats over the years. He currently specializes in technical consulting for business aircraft, including pre-buys and international transactions. Below, you can read about Doug and his career at Pentastar Aviation in his own words:
I grew up in Dearborn Heights. The flight path of Metro Airport was over our house. My dad was never too mechanically inclined, so boats and mini-bikes and things like that – I ended up working on ‘em. I was 14 years old working on the cars and things like that. One day I decided I oughta start working on airplanes. I graduated in ’76 from high school and started A&P school at Willow Run that July.
I almost ended up as an electrician. When I first got a job at Pentastar, I was going to take an electrician’s apprenticeship. I stuck with aviation…for better or for worse.
I remember when I first got hired in, the director of maintenance asked me, “What do you wanna do in 10 years?” I said, “Well, I want your job!” He looked at me and said, “You gotta be kidding me – I’ve never had anybody tell me that.” That was my goal when I first started working here.
Having worked for one company in the aviation business for this long is quite an accomplishment and I’m very proud of that – I tell everybody. As a matter of fact, this weekend I was at the beach and a gentleman was there with his jet boat and I went over to look at it. I couldn’t believe the motor – it had all stainless steel lines – so I started talking to him and he knew I knew a little bit about boats. He worked in the aviation business, too. He was a mechanic down at Toledo Jet Center. He couldn’t believe I’d been at Pentastar for this long. He said, “I always wanted to work there.”
I’ve been married 32 years now. That’s an accomplishment in itself.
When I take delivery of a new airplane for a customer, I want it perfect. There’s no “close enough.”
Do it right the first time. There’s no fooling around in aviation. You have to be serious. You have to pay attention to your job and do it properly, but you’ve got to have a little fun at work, too.
What do I find rewarding? Anytime I look up in the sky and the plane’s flying. I still get excited to come to work and look at the airplanes. I guess it’s in me.
The best day I’ve had to date was when I was sent over to Europe to do a pre-buy. The three-week pre-buy turned into everything else, including import and export and delivering the aircraft to Hong Kong. It turned into an 8-10 week project. I’d never done anything like that and I learned quite a bit. I had a little bit of help, but in the end, I was very proud of that.
I’ve always tried to be a leader. That’s what you have to do to get ahead.
I’ve mentored a few maintenance guys over the years and I just told them, ‘Hang in there.’ It’s a tough business – it always has been – and I don’t think that’s going to change much in the next 20, 30 years. It’s going to have its ups and downs, you know? You have to stand out. Make sure that you get noticed.
You can turn wrenches all your life, but I knew that when I was 50 years old, I didn’t want to be kneeling on the floor turning wrenches, so I started learning as much as I as could about the business.
We’ve always had high quality people here – people that you could talk to, that understood, that knew the business. If you didn’t have the answer, you knew where to go to get it. And that’s still here.