October 15, 2018
“Aviate, navigate, communicate.” This summary of a pilot’s duties dates back at least to World War II.
That third term, “communicate,” is the first priority for dispatchers. Their primary job is to communicate requirements and options so that flight crews, ground crews, and passengers can make good decisions and enjoy the convenience and benefits of private charter.
Special Services Corporation (SSC) is a charter, management, and maintenance organization based in Greenville, South Carolina. SSC is known for long-term relationships with customers and employees, so when they add someone to the team, they look for people with very special qualifications.
“We are very careful who we hire,” says Doug Goldstrom, president. “So we were really happy to find someone who is such a great fit.”
Doug Rumminger began working with SSC in July of 2018. With a background as a magazine and textbook editor and military linguist, he may not be the most obvious fit at first glance, but Rumminger adapted quickly to become part of the team.
“The pace at SSC is really different from what I’m used to,” explains Rumminger. “At the magazine, we had 2-3-month deadlines. You’re planning one issue, you’re editing one issue, and you’re wrapping up the current issue. Lot of stuff going on all the time, but you can decide whether to stay late to get things done. At SSC, everything is really relaxed until all of a sudden it’s not. All the deadlines are more like 2 hours, or sometimes 20 minutes!”
Rumminger’s duties include researching and communicating ramp fees, flight times, fuel costs, crew hours, and many, many other factors that go into a flawless flight.
“This is the first job I’ve ever had where I’ve felt like an integral part of the business. It’s a really cool feeling to know that your efforts make a significant contribution to the bottom line,” he says. “And the chemistry of the team is so cool. During my employment interview, I remembered a fact I’d read about the PC 12, one of the aircraft in SSC’s fleet – that it can take a family of four and a couple of jet skis for a weekend at the beach. We spent a few minutes in the middle of the interview just chatting about it. We all love talking about airplanes, and we just immediately clicked.”
“Eric (Groves, SSC’s CEO) is an instructor as well as a pilot, and that shows in the way he works with people,” he said. “He takes the time to explain the capabilities of our airplanes when I ask. Another thing I enjoy here is that In addition to organizing the flight schedule, we get to work around the ramp and the hangar. It’s something different every day – we might be running an errand or getting a client’s car washed – it’s never just sitting in the office all the time.”
Rumminger is no stranger to flexibility. He is a US Army Reservist who retires in March, 2019 as a Chief Warrant Officer (CW4). After graduating from Bob Jones University with a BA in German language and literature, Rumminger served in Germany for three years. He then worked as an editor for BJU Press and Answers magazine while remaining in the Army Reserve. He learned Arabic in the Army in 2001, “I was halfway through my Arabic course on 9/11, so that was sobering. I’ve been to Iraq a couple of times since. “
So, how did an editor/linguist become a dispatcher?
All these jobs call for great communication skills and attention to detail, but beyond that, Rumminger has always loved aviation. He earned his commercial license with instrument and multi-engine ratings in 1990 and worked as a flight instructor. When he and his wife started a family, he left aviation for a time but never lost his passion. His hobby is building 1/525th scale reproductions of airplanes with balsa wood, paper, and other materials.
When the couple’s youngest child went to college and they decided it was time for a change, Rumminger discussed job opportunities in Greenville with his brother-in-law, a professor at BJU. The conversation turned to flying, and SSC came up right away. Rumminger contacted Doug Goldstrom, who had recently posted a position for a dispatcher, and the process went smoothly from there.
The only drawback is that Rumminger the dispatcher and Goldstrom the president in charge of sales and marketing share the first name Doug.
“(Mistaken identity) happens a whole lot,” said Rumminger. “People are often halfway through the conversation before they figure out they’re NOT talking to Doug Goldstrom. We tell people we’re confusing them intentionally,” he jokes.
Special Services Corporation (SSC) started as Liberty Life Insurance company in 1905 and later became the Liberty Corporation. The Stevens Textiles (the former parent company of Stevens Aviation) shared airplane services. To meet demand, and that of other local companies, the company that later became SSC acquired and managed additional aircraft for additional clients, and began providing charter services. Over the years, SSC has operated, managed, purchased and sold many different aircraft including a Lear 35, Citation II, Citation Encore, KA-200, Cheyenne IIXL, Cheyenne IIIA, King Air and Cirrus SR 24. Today, SSC is the longest tenant at the Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) and offers an array of charter, maintenance, management and other aviation related services. They specialize in helping individuals and companies use private aviation as a competitive advantage.