Kassa Maru has a bit of experience behind him when it comes to working within the aviation sector. The fact is that the founder, Chairman and President of American General Supplies (AGS) is a man with an employment history that few could hope to match, and that many would be envious of.
When looking back on the evolution of AGS it is clear that the creation of the company, in Chicago in 1982, was very much linked to the career path taken by its founder. Over the course of the five years which preceded the birth of AGS Maru would be responsible for material management on behalf of both Ethiopian Airways and Yemen Airways, before becoming Vice President of International Marketing at Aviation Systems International (ASI). It was during his time at ASI that Kassa Maru was joined by his brother, Melesse. Together the pair forged a hugely successful business partnership, one which paved the way for the pair to establish AGS.
While AGS originally called Rockville, Maryland its home, the business quickly outgrew it and would go on moving from one larger location to another until it eventually bought its own facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It is from this 15,000 square foot facility that the company would go about furthering its aim of becoming an all-encompassing spare parts supplier to the commercial aviation industry, providing more than 40,000 line items it has on-hand at its warehouse, consisting primarily of spares for Boeing and Airbus aircraft.
Today, AGS employs a total of 65 highly trained individuals across its operations in Maryland, New York, California, Ethiopia and Mozambique. It is these men and women who have been hugely influential in helping AGS secure upwards of $45 million in gross sales and become representatives for eight of the world’s leading commercial aviation manufacturers.
One of these manufacturers is Honeywell, a global leader in the aviation sector. The AGS/Honeywell partnership project began in August 2011 and has seen AGS appointed as Honeywell’s channel partner distributor in Africa, where AGS is well established and continues to grow its presence on the back of being named Small Business Exporter of the Year to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2007 by the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
The partnership allows AGS to offer all of Honeywell’s product lines at substantial discounts to its customers. However, it knows that it is just as important that these customers receive said products in a timely manner to ensure that their operations continue to run smoothly. Fortunately AGS’ proximity to no fewer than three major international airports means that it can deliver shipments quickly to, and throughout, Africa.
Whether it is as part of a partnership with the likes of Honeywell, Tug Technologies, Trepel Airport Equipment Company GmBH, Malabar International, Clyde Machines, the Stinar Corporation or the SWITLIK Parachute Company, AGS has built its success over more than three decades on a series of core traits and qualities that have helped it to stand out ahead of the competition. These characteristics include its ability to offer broad experience of the industry, possessing the financial strength and capabilities to benefit its customers, its admired reputation throughout Africa and the Middle East, and its unique degree of understanding when it comes to the needs of the aviation sector in these parts of the world.
AGS takes great pride in the fact that it works tirelessly to get to know the ins and outs of its customers’ business so as to get a clear understanding of their individual needs. Doing business in a face-to-face manner is something that it also believes strongly in and as such it makes every effort to go to its clients in order to show them who AGS is, what it specialises in and how it values its customers above everything else.
AGS is further buoyed by the fact that within its ranks it has a number of employees who themselves are experts in their fields, including several former airline employees. What each of these people have in common however is a passion for AGS’ business and an unwavering commitment towards taking care of its customers throughout the duration of their relationship with the company.
The aviation sector is renowned for its dynamic nature and as such a company like AGS must always be able to stay abreast of changes and fluctuations within the industry. Such attention to the market has served the business extremely well over the years, particularly during difficult economic times. This approach has meant that the company now finds itself in a healthy enough position to recruit new employees, extend its partnerships with manufacturers and take on additional large projects from fast growing airlines in rapidly developing markets such as Africa.
AGS’ ability to predict the changing nature of the aviation sector means that it has in face been preparing for this growth in Africa for a number of years now. In that time it has hired additional professionals, upgraded its facilities and set about making plans for the construction of an adjacent hangar at its headquarters. AGS also now finds itself in talks to build a hangar in Rwanda, a fact in itself that highlights the growing importance of emerging markets to the company and the opportunities that they will continue to offer going forward.
With sales figures close to $50 million predicted for 2013 alone, it really puts into perspective just why both the short and long-term future looks so bright for AGS.
Written by Will Daynes, research by James Boyle