The Benefits of Utility-Scale Battery Energy Storage Systems in the United States

In recent years, the United States has witnessed a remarkable surge in the deployment of utility-scale Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS). As the demand for renewable energy sources increases and the grid infrastructure evolves, BESS emerges as a crucial solution to address the intermittency and reliability challenges associated with renewable energy generation. 

Airway Services knows this. Airway offers a variety of services within the renewable energy industry. Along with services in Wind and Solar Energy, Airway offers Battery Storage options to its customers as well. 

Brad Gryder, the Director of Business Development for Airway Services stated that Airway began really taking notice of battery energy a few years ago. 

“We were already providing services in wind and solar, and we just wanted to look at diversifying our services,” Gryder said. “Some of our customers, who are asset owners, were actually looking at purchasing battery storage equipment for their wind and solar sites. So, with that, we thought it might be a good transition, with the expertise that our technicians already possess, to transfer from wind and solar over to battery storage.”

Airway seized the opportunity to offer battery storage services two years ago and started providing BESS services to battery storage manufactures and asset owners. Now, they have around 30 battery storage technicians working throughout the US, led by Bradley Overholser, the Operations Manager for Airway Services. 

“Right now, a lot of our manpower is based in Southern California,” Overholser stated. “Right at the border of Arizona, we’ve got two sites there and we also have other technicians currently assigned to the west Texas area and Nevada. Previously, we’ve done most of our battery storage work in Texas, Arizona, California, and the northeast.” 

In short, Airway is focused on providing battery storage services all across the country, and it makes sense because there are several benefits to Battery Energy Storage Systems, both for asset owners and utility companies. Some of those benefits include: 

Enhancing Grid Stability

Utility-scale BESS plays a pivotal role in ensuring grid stability in the United States. The renewable energy sector, including wind and solar, heavily relies on weather conditions and time of day, which results in intermittent power generation. By storing excess energy during periods of high generation and releasing it during peak demand, BESS mitigates the effects of this intermittency, thereby reducing the likelihood of blackouts and voltage fluctuations. The ability of BESS to provide fast-response power injections also enhances grid resiliency, enabling a reliable and stable electricity supply to consumers.

Fostering Renewable Integration

One of the primary benefits of utility-scale BESS lies in its ability to facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid. The intermittent nature of renewables poses challenges to their widespread adoption, as excess energy during peak generation times often goes to waste. BESS effectively addresses this issue by storing surplus renewable energy and releasing it during periods of high demand or low generation. This process, known as load shifting, helps to optimize the utilization of renewable energy sources, reducing curtailment and increasing their overall effectiveness in meeting energy demands.

Reducing Reliance on Fossil Fuels

Utility-scale BESS also plays a crucial role in reducing the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels. Historically, fossil fuels have been the backbone of energy generation due to their reliability and consistent supply. However, with the urgent need to combat climate change and transition towards cleaner energy sources, BESS offers an ideal solution. By storing excess renewable energy, BESS enables the grid to rely less on fossil fuel-based power plants during peak demand, thus reducing carbon emissions and promoting a more sustainable energy landscape.

Grid Infrastructure Optimization

The deployment of utility-scale BESS offers additional benefits beyond stabilizing the grid and facilitating renewable integration. By providing ancillary services such as frequency regulation and voltage support, BESS can optimize the existing grid infrastructure. This reduces the need for costly grid expansions and upgrades, ultimately leading to cost savings for utilities and consumers alike. Additionally, BESS can act as a backup power source during emergencies, providing critical electricity supply during outages or natural disasters.

Airway Services continues to learn, grow, and evolve within renewables. The world of battery energy storage is a relatively new one that Airway is excited to be part of. 

“As a company, as we continue to learn more about this field, I think it provides a great opportunity for our technicians to broaden their skillsets,” Overholser shared. “What we’re able to provide is not just an introduction into the BESS system, but also what it has led us to currently, and that’s doing inverter work for customers, getting some other training, and really just broadening ourselves and making sure that we’re well-rounded in all aspects of renewables.”

Gryder agreed. “This actually gives us a broader array of services to provide, because a lot of the asset owners own wind and solar and now they’re going to own battery storage,” he said. “So this gives us more services to provide to our customers on different aspects of their renewable portfolio.”

Utility-scale battery energy storage systems bring numerous benefits to the United States, ranging from enhancing grid stability and fostering renewable integration to reducing reliance on fossil fuels. The deployment of BESS not only ensures a more reliable and resilient electricity supply but also contributes to the overall sustainability and decarbonization goals of the nation. As the country continues to prioritize renewable energy sources, investing in utility-scale BESS becomes increasingly crucial, propelling the United States towards a cleaner, more efficient, and sustainable energy future.

Airway Services Recognizes Hayden Walters

At Airway Services, safety is the absolute top priority. Airway Services provides its employees with extensive training – not just on how to avoid accidents, but on how to respond to accidents should they occur. 

Such was the case recently when one of Airway Services’ technicians performed immediate first aid to an injured technician. 

Hayden Walters was working alongside another technician when the technician suddenly got injured at the top of a wind tower. 

According to David Bonilla, the Field Supervisor for Airway Services, the technician had climbed into the nose cone of the wind tower in order to perform some tension work. While doing so, part of his wrist was exposed, and rubbed up against a blade bolt, which resulted in a puncture wound to his hand and wrist. The injury immediately started bleeding, profusely. Even more alarming was the fact that the injury was located in an area near multiple veins, meaning the risk of significant blood loss was high. 

Walters immediately leapt into action. 

“Hayden responded to the situation quickly, providing first aid to the injured tech,” Bonilla stated. “He was able to address the situation calmly and provide the proper treatment, stopping the bleeding and getting his teammate down tower.” 

One of the most important things that Airway Services teaches its technicians during training is the importance of staying calm. This is something that’s easy to do in hypothetical situations but, in reality, it’s a whole different story. Still, Walters was able to maintain his composure and was able to help keep the other technician calm as well. 

“Hayden really took charge,” Bonilla offered. “He got the cut covered up quickly; he properly cleaned the injury and patched it up quickly, getting the bleeding to stop so that he could properly get him out of the tower. He went through all the steps, just how he’s supposed to. He did a good job and I’m pretty sure it only took him about eight minutes to get it patched up and get him onto the lift, and then get him down the tower.” 

Bonilla said that Walters immediately called Dustin Walton, as is protocol. Bonilla himself was alerted as well and, by the time he got to the site, the technician was already completely patched up and was sitting in a truck, awaiting transportation to the clinic to get stitches. The entire process took about 15 minutes.

It was a scary situation that could have ended up a lot worse, if not for Walters’ quick thinking and the training that he received. 

This story illustrates just how important the training program is; it illustrates just how important safety is. 

“It’s number one,” Bonilla stated. “Absolutely. A lot of guys value their work ethic and how much they can get done in a day. Or they value their experience. But what ‘s important to us at Airway Services is the ability to know how to deal with a situation and being aware of your surroundings; knowing where your first-aid kit is and what the steps are.”

There is a procedure that has to be followed in instances such as this, and Walters followed it to a tee.

“A lot of guys in other companies will get hurt and they won’t say anything, or somebody won’t follow the correct procedure,” Bonilla offered. “They’ll just go sit in the truck or whatever. But for Hayden to step up and make sure that it was done properly, for him to make sure that the technician was treated the way he needed to be treated, was very, very good. He made sure that his coworker was taken care of. For me, safety is absolutely number one and I believe that it’s a highlight of your skillset when you remember those things and you value your teammates and their wellbeing.” 

That’s exactly what Hayden Walters did and, for that, he deserves recognition. When these technicians ascend wind towers, they’re putting their lives in each others’ hands. Each and every day. You have to be able to trust your coworker and know that if something were to happen, that you were in good hands. Walters proved that training pays off and that safety is, was, and always will be the most important aspect of Airway Services. 

“Always expect the unexpected,” Bonilla said. “A lot of times, nothing will happen. But at the end of the day, you can’t control how your day goes and you need to be prepared for anything. We’re pretty safe here, but it’s not impossible for somebody to get hurt. We don’t want that to happen, but we’ve got to be totally prepared for it to happen. And Hayden was prepared. He stepped up to the plate and he hit a home run.”

Your Brother’s Keeper: Spotlight on Airway Services Training/Safety Department

At Airway Services, as it is with all of the TAKKION companies, safety comes first. That’s not just a line, not just a cliché. It’s the number one priority throughout each of the TAKKION companies. 

Because of that, Airway Services invests a lot of time and a lot of money into its Safety Training program. 

“I think the wind industry as a whole has really recognized the need for more training than what it provided in the past” said Dusty Jenson, the Director of Safety and Training for Airway Services. “Of course, there are OSHA regulations that we are required to train on, but there are some other needs that we train our people to work in.” 

Those needs include growing their safety track record, hiring and training better instructors, finding the best ways to relay information, finding the best ways to go about teaching rescues, teaching first aid, and basic awareness courses like electrical safety, hydraulic safety, and more. 

One of the most recent, and most important, additions to the Safety and Training division of Airway Services has been its news trainer, Dustin Rader.

Rader joined the Airway team in July of 2022 and, in his short time with the company, he has proven himself to be an irreplaceable asset. 

Rader brings with him more than 13 years of experience as a trainer and much of his interest in the area of safety comes from a point in his career in which safety wasn’t a priority. 

“I had an incident early on in my wind career that geared me more towards safety; that geared me more towards documentation, that geared me more towards following the plans that are set in place,” Raider said. “If someone isn’t there to teach people the appropriate way to do things, if someone isn’t willing to put in the effort to show people how to keep themselves safe, or how to actually follow the plan, then what’s the point? If you keep cutting the corners off of a box, you end up with a circle. And you lose track of what the end goal is.” 

And, Rader said, the end goal at Airway Services is to make sure that its employees get home safely. Period. 

“It’s about going home the same way you showed up,” he said. “The goal is to go home with ten fingers and ten toes, just like how you showed up. I want people to be better when they leave. I want them to think about – especially from an advanced rescue standpoint – I want them to think about the situations that they can end up in and how they would be able to get themselves or their coworkers out of those situations, beforehand. I want to put it in their brain that they should be looking at all of these different paths for a rescue, prior to going into those spaces, or before the actual rescue comes up. I want them to have some type of thought process before it even comes up.” 

Like the old adage says, the best defense is a good offense and that’s a mantra that Airway Services takes very seriously. 

“As the industry grows and the GWO (Global Wind Organization) continues to grow, they’re rolling out more specific training modules,” Jenson said. “Over the last year, we’ve worked really hard to not only add to our basic safety and basic technical training, but we’ve added the Advanced Rescue and the Controlled Hazardous Energy modules – to not only comply with our customers’ requirements, but to better prepare our technicians to work in the environment that they’re going to work in.” 

Jenson said the goal is to better prepare technicians to perform rescues in challenging environments, such as up-tower rescues on wind turbines and with hazardous energy sources such as electricity, mechanical energy, and hydraulic energy.

In order to teach those types of rescues, Airway Services knew they needed to hire somebody with experience, with knowledge, and with the drive to pass on that experience and knowledge to others. 

They found that with Rader. 

“Dustin has been a valuable asset for us,” Jenson said. “He’s really done a lot as far as learning these techniques for the advanced rescues; to the point that he’s probably one of the most experienced advanced rescue trainers in the United States. That’s what he’s done, that’s what he’s specialized in, for the last several years. And so, to have him come onto the team and to bring that knowledge and that experience and that expertise to Airway…it’s just been incredible.” 

Rader’s teaching method is hands-on, in certain ways. But he also allows his trainees to make mistakes. Then, he explains how and why those mistakes were made, and offers ideas on how to avoid them in the future. 

“I really push for involvement from the class,” Rader said. “I like getting them involved, getting them hands-on, and getting them repetitions with the equipment. I try not to teach a specific type of rescue; more just how the equipment works, how the gear works, and how you can use those pieces and parts together. And then I just open the door for them to start their rescue.” 

Both Jenson and Rader understand that safety is of the utmost importance at Airway Services – and they were hired to ensure that the rest of the company understands that as well. 

“Safety is definitely important,” Jenson stated. “In fact, it’s our first core value at Airway. We see the safety of people as our number one priority; making sure that our people come to work safely, but also leave safely at the end of every day. And so, we’ve really tried to give our people – our technicians, our guys in the field – the tools and the resources they are going to need to be able to work in these high-risk environments and to make sure that they go home to their families every day. That’s been our focus. It’s a focus and it’s deeply ingrained in just about everything we do, in every area of our business. I’d say it’s one of the most important things that we consider on a day-to-day basis.”  

Rader agrees. 

“If you don’t have safety on your mind, you’re in trouble,” he said. “There’s really no one looking over your shoulder when you’re out there. It’s not like you’re in a spot where you could be constantly monitored to ensure that you’re being safe. You don’t have somebody watching you. You have to take safety in. You have to learn these different rules. You have to learn these different techniques and keep yourself safe because it’s you and your partner out there. You guys are all you have. You have to be your brother’s keeper. There are no other options.” 

We’re in the People Business: The Growth of Airway Services in 2022

2022 was a big year for Airway Services. In fact, 2022 was a big year for all of the TAKKION companies but, for Airway Services specifically, 2022 was the year that proved just how far they have come since the company’s inception. 

In 2022, Airway Services hired 447 people. 

This statistic may be surprising to some, but it wasn’t to Chase Hord, the Chief Operating Officer of Airway Services. 

“Our growth in 2022 was expected,” Hord said. “We’ve been very successful in growing it 30-plus percent year over year for the last five years. It’s something that we’ve been able to do, both with our organic customer base and new opportunities that our operations teams create as well.”

Hord stated that the growth of employees is directly related to the growth of clientele, and vice versa.

“This happened, really, through collaboration and partnerships with our key customers, in order to make sure that we’re ahead in the manpower game,” he said. “It’s important to have your headcount ahead of your customers’ growth, so that you have the people to support their work; otherwise, you’re just kind of late to the game.” 

Airway grew in a number of ways throughout 2022, but the biggest growth occurred in terms of field technicians, according to Keith Grigsby, the Director of Field Operations for Airway Services.

“The biggest part of our growth was in our technicians out in the field – which really drives our business,” Grigsby said. “That’s our key core of our business, is the technicians that are out there in the field. So that’s probably what we’re most proud of. Last year, in 2022, we started out with 390 technicians out in the field, and our peak headcount was 538. So, there was a big growth there.” 

It wasn’t just the number of technicians, either. Many employees were promoted from within, as well. 

“We promoted two field supervisors,” Grigsby shared. “We promoted them from field supervisors to 

operations managers. And we also promoted one of our operations managers to a senior operations manager. And we developed close to 10 field supervisors that were some of our leading technicians, who showed the capabilities of leading our teams. So, we’ll develop those guys to be future leaders in the company. And we’re pretty proud of that as well.” 

Proud, they should be. Airway Services has seen tremendous growth in many areas, and a lot of that growth can be attributed to its acquisition by TAKKION.

“TAKKION has provided not only the liquidity and the financial stability for Airway to grow in the marketplace but, really, it’s allowed us to cross-sell our services around other entities and collaborate on the field services side,” Hord said. “I would say RENEW was our biggest competitor when getting down to some of the transactional work that we would bid with customers for. So, for us to be able to collaborate and work together, now, whether RENEW wins it or Airway wins it, it’s a win for TAKKION. The cross-selling of services and the collaboration of the brand has helped us grow in this market.” 

Grigsby agrees. 

“Growth-wise, TAKKION has helped us have the financial ability to be able to grow the way we need to,” he said. “It’s been great for us all the way across the board. So anytime we have a need in there, they’ve enabled us to grow and fulfill those needs, especially in our training facilities.”

While TAKKION played a role in Airway’s growth, as did – obviously- Airway’s employees, the biggest reason for the company’s growth is, as always, the customers. 

“One of the main things that drives our success is our customers,” Grigsby said. “Our customers reach out to us, and we do a good job, and so then they want more of our technicians out in the field, supporting them in the wind industry. So, some of our biggest customers have reached out and wanted us to grow with them. So, as their demand increased, we were able to fill that demand and train more people and get them onboarded. 

For 2022, the wind industry all together saw a big growth. And we help support that growth in the wind industry with our labor force.” 

Airway’s growth directly correlates to the growth of the wind industry. Both are sure to grow even more in the coming years, as wind energy gets more and more popular. With that will come even more growth, even more success for companies like Airway Services. But for Airway, it’s not just about quantity; it’s about quality too, above all. 

“There are a lot of companies that can grow,” Grigsby said. “But they sort of fail when it comes to the quality and the expectations with customers and with technicians themselves. We have the quantity and the quality of technicians and we support them completely. And our work with customers is topnotch. Everybody that works for Airway wants to work here, and wants to be here, and enjoys their time here. And they know that when they’re working for Airway, they have the capabilities to be considered the topnotch wind technicians in the field.” 

It is those technicians and other employees, Hord said, that are responsible for the success of Airway Services.

“This would be impossible without the people on our team,” he said. “It takes everybody – from the back office support team to the operations teams in field, everyone is instrumental in our success. We strive to constantly push the brand and culture that we have here at Airway. It’s important that we lead with service, with that service mentality. The only reason we’re in business is because of our people. We’re in the people business. And that needs to continue to be the foundation of what we do and why we do it.”

Airway Services: James Sudbury Retirement

James Sudbury, the Director of Finance for Airway Services, has learned many lessons throughout his career, the biggest of which is this: 

“The one thing I know, after doing numbers for a pretty long time, is that the number guys should never be in charge.” 

He said that with a laugh, but he meant it. Sudbury has been “working in numbers” for more than 30 years. In that time, he has helped a lot of companies grow. But, he says, the company needs visionaries just as much as it needs realists. 

Sudbury is a realist. He is, pardon the phrase, a very paint-by-numbers type of guy. But that mindset has lent itself well to a career that has spanned more than three decades. 

And now, after more than thirty years in his line of work, Sudbury is getting ready to retire. 

“It’s my birthday present to myself,” Sudbury said. 

But before we get to the end of Sudbury’s career, we have to talk about the beginning, and the middle. 

It was in the middle of his career that Sudbury became the Director of Finance for Airway Services. Previously, he and a partner owned a consulting business, helping other companies find ways to grow. Airway Services was one of those companies. One of the owners of the company wanted to buy out the other partner and, in order to do so, they hired Sudbury’s company to help ‘get the books in order.’ 

Throughout that process, Sudbury became friends with Chase Hord, the Chief Operating Officer of Airway Services. The two began discussing the possibility of Sudbury coming on board, as Airway was growing at a tremendous rate and Sudbury himself had one eye on retirement already. So, he decided to come work for Airway Services in 2017. It was a win-win – he could wind down his own practice in preparation of his retirement, while also helping a company get its own affairs in order as it began its ascent. Sudbury liked the challenge and he accepted a position. 

“Wind is a great business,” Sudbury said. “I recognized that. But it was really about the people I knew at Airway and doing what I could to try and help the company. I found Chase to be a really great leader. He’s great at being able to select the talent around him and once he selects a person, he’s not the kind of guy to micromanage. He’s of the belief that you hire good people and then turn them loose to do their job. And everybody is pulling together, to the same end.” 

Sudbury name dropped Jonathan Click and Dusty Jensen as two people for whom he held a great deal of respect as well, and said it was the leadership that made him want to join the Airway team. 

“The tone is set from the top,” he stated. “If we mess something up, we’ll say so. We own that, and we’ll come back with a solution. As a business, I think that’s a great way to do business and what sets us apart from many of our competitors.” 

That’s not the only thing that distinguishes Airway Services from its competitors, though. 

“I think it’s our commitment to excellence and doing the right thing and working with our customers as a true partner,” he revealed. 

That’s what sets Airway Services apart and that’s the message that they want to continue to spread.  It’s that mindset that has helped Airway to grow exponentially over its short history. 

“When I started being involved with the company in 2015…the company is four times bigger today than it was back then,” Sudbury claimed. 

Despite his self-deprecating tone, Sudbury was a big part of Airway’s success. And now, after helping to ensure the company’s future, he wants to focus on his present. 

Sudbury has worked long hours, both for Airway Services and for his own company. The biggest thing he’s looking forward to with his retirement is a simple notion. 

“I’m looking forward to spending some time with my wife, to tell you the truth,” he said. “It’s been a pretty busy several years, going through a couple acquisitions and having the kind of growth that we’ve gone through. So, I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with her. We’re planning on doing some traveling and I bought a retirement place in a golf course community, so I plan on playing a little golf, and doing some volunteer things with my church and in the community. It’s important for me to stay active and to be contributing to something…to the greater good, if you will.” 

For 8 years, first as a consultant and then as an employee, Sudbury has contributed to the growth of Airway Services. Though he was the numbers guy and, in his own words, should never have been in charge, he was instrumental in the company’s success. Sudbury is helping to train his successor and is committed to ‘ensuring a smooth transition,’ but what he may not know, or believe, is that he’s actually irreplaceable. 

“James joined the team as a consultant in 2015 to help Airway Services navigate a partner buyout,” Chase Hord said of his employee, of his friend. “After working closely with James over the next year, I began to admire his knowledge and unfounded respect in the banking world and asked him to relocate and join the Airway team full-time. A lot of people say when a person is leaving an organization that they were instrumental in their success, but I can honestly say Airway Services flat out wouldn’t be here today without James’s leadership and commitment to the organization’s success. Over the last 8 years, he has helped us grow our business 3.6 times; he has led and mentored our finance team, and helped align our organization to be the best postured ISP in the industry. I can’t say thank you enough for all of the long hours and countless nights of sleep to help the organization to be the best. 

“May your retirement days be long and filled with fun and family. You’ve always set a great example and been a mentor throughout your career, and I know whatever you are doing in retirement, you will have a positive impact on those around you. Wishing you nothing but sunny days on a golf course and peaceful nights on a cruise ship from here on out! I’m excited for all the new opportunities with Lisa and your life.

“Take care my friend.”

Airway Services: Reid McIntyre Spotlight

Name: Reid McIntyre

Title: Asset Manager

Tenure: 1 ½ years

Hobbies: Fishing, Raising Sheep, Hunting, Camping, Outdoor Activities, and “All of the Texas things.” 

Marital Status: Married with a new son.

Bio: Reid McIntyre isn’t afraid of heights. That fact, along with an interest in wind energy that began in high school, led to McIntyre joining Airway Services as the company’s Asset Manager. 

McIntyre has been in the wind industry going on 11 years. He graduated from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, Texas and worked for Upwind Solutions before it was acquired by Vestas. 

“It really started about my junior year in high school,” McIntyre stated. “Wind was a growing industry and a four-year degree was not something that I saw myself pursuing. I wanted to do some sort of trade that would provide for a family and offer some travel and some other perks, without going into the oilfield. This is a steady industry with exponential growth and so from about 2008 on, I wanted to go where the wind led me.” 

Eventually, the wind led him to Airway Services. 

“They actually reached out to me through some of the people that they know in the industry,” McIntyre said. “I guess my name came up whenever they were on their search for an Asset Manager.” 

He interviewed with both Chase Hord and Jonathan Click, but it was less of an interview and more of a conversation. They knew they wanted him. He knew they wanted him. It was just a matter of meeting and finding out if they clicked. 

They did. 

As the Asset Manager, McIntyre manages the entire fleet, all of the tooling, and all of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Airway Services. 

At just 30 years old, McIntyre is a vital part of Airway Services, and it’s an opportunity that he does not take lightly. 

“It means the world to me,” he stated. “It means that, at the end of the day, if I do my job right and have people believing in me that I’m doing the right thing and I’m taking the right steps for my career and my company, I’ll be here for a long time.” 

For example, McIntyre began working for Airway Services in June of 2021. At that point, Airway Services had 172 trucks. Now, they are up to 347 trucks – a 45% increase in just a year and a half. 

“Our tooling has increased roughly 30 or 35 percent,” McIntyre said. “With growth comes challenges, but I’m kind of that guy that likes challenges.” 

This job, as with any other, comes with its own set of challenges. But it also comes with a satisfaction that McIntyre finds immense purpose in. 

Part of that satisfaction comes from knowing that the company he works for is committed to service excellence and ensuring that their customers are taken care of every step of the way. 

“It’s the quality of the job that we do, and it’s the culture that Airway has built over the years in the wind business,” McIntyre said. “We have higher standards of service, and we make sure that the quality is right. That’s the main thing. And you can ask just about anybody who works for us. I won’t say that we’re a small family or a mom-and-pop shop anymore, but we care about each other like we’re family.” 

It’s that family-like atmosphere, both in-house and with its customers, that has proven Airway Services to be the standard bearer for wind energy projects. 

Reid McIntyre knows this; he’s part of the reason why. He loves his job, and he loves this industry. And he has for a very, very long time. 

“Growing up, I was always building something or figuring out how things work or trying to fix them,” he said. “I really enjoyed working with my hands. I like to skydive. Now I like to climb towers. Because I’m not afraid of heights.” 

In this job with Airway Services, McIntyre will undoubtedly reach new heights.

Airway Services Employee Spotlight: Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson (MJ) is not afraid of heights, and that’s probably a good thing given that he’s spent the
majority of his adult life scaling tall structures.

MJ has been working in wind energy for more than 15 years, 12 of which have been spent at Airway Services. Before AWS, MJ worked for a telecommunications business on cellphone towers that eventually expanded to include a wind division.

“The company I worked for took a bunch of guys from Wisconsin who were young and dumb enough to work on cellphone towers, and stack guide towers with cable winches and a gin pole. We had barely seen a wind turbine before and they sent us down to Guyman, Oklahoma,” MJ laughed. “Our job was to drop rotors and swap out blades on the ground. We’d never worked on wind turbines before, let alone had any clue how to. There was definitely a learning curve. It took us 16hrs to drop our first rotor. By the end of that project we were dropping a rotor, swapping out all 3 blades, and flying the rotor in a day. That was a good start to my career, because we learned exactly what not do and why.”

It was the definition of ‘learning on the job,’ and that’s exactly what MJ did. Eventually, though, it paid off.

“I have built eight different manufacturers of towers and then 15 different models within those eight different manufacturers,” MJ revealed. “Building them as a top out crew in construction, working as a lead flagger all the way to a foreman. I’ve also done a bunch of large corrective work, large corrective lead (which is basically their foreman), gear boxes, generators, main bearings, rotor drops, and single blade swap outs for all four of the major wind industry OEM’S.”

In short, he’s done a lot.

For the last three years, he’s been a TFA (Technical Field Advisor) and Lead TFA at his current project in
California, he’s somewhat of a one-man-show. “At this project in California, it’s only one tower,” MJ said. “I’m the Site Manager, the Lead TFA, the TFA, the stockkeeper, and the Safety guy’s not on site all the time, so I fill that role when he’s gone too.”

MJ makes it easy to place him within the construction realm due to his vast knowledge and experience. The
OEM’s have recognized him for several safety achievements and continue to entrust him to lead large
complex issues for the AWS team without their leadership on site.

“Heights don’t really scare me.” MJ said “The highest I’ve climbed is 1,420 feet to paint a broadcast tower. If you have trust in yourself, you have trust in your equipment and the people you work with, then you will be able to accomplish anything.”

Every time MJ climbs a tower, he takes his life into his own hands. But that’s nothing new for him.

MJ is not afraid to make decisions, work hard, tackle challenging scopes of work, and have fun while working with his teammates. And he’s certainly not afraid to reach for new heights.

About Airway Services HR Team

Anyone who’s been in the workforce for a long time knows one thing: There’s a job, and then there’s a career.

A job is something you clock into, do what you’re supposed to do, and clock out. You don’t have to be
passionate about it because it’s just a means to an end. It’s designed to put money in your pocket, and nothing Else.

A career…well, a career is something else entirely. A career is something that you study for, something that you prepare for. A career is something that you actually want to pursue. A career not only puts money in your pocket; it puts purpose in your step.

Airway Services is determined to be more than a job for its employees; it’s designed to be a career. And that’s how the company approaches every single hire.

That’s why Airway Services Human Resources and Recruiting team is so vital to the company.

Airway Services began 2022 with just one HR representative and one recruiter. Now, in September, they’ve added an HR Administrator and a remote recruiter. Together, this team works to find exceptional employees who are searching for a career with an exceptional company.

“On July 1st, of 2021, [Airway Services] created an HR department, which was myself and one recruiter,” said Veronica Sanchez, the HR Manager for Airway Services. “I received my SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certification a month prior to stepping into this role. Starting out with Airway, our headcount was approximately 280 employees, and we were inching our way up to 300. Now, I’m happy to say our current headcount is 525.”

That is exponential growth for the company and, Sanchez says, it’s due in large part to the effort of their two Recruiters.

“They are doing a phenomenal job of getting these employees in, getting them through training, and setting up manager/employee communication prior to sending them out into the field,” Sanchez stated.

It’s a process, to be sure, but this team of four seems to have the process down pat. The team uses a variety of methods to attract new employees, including social media posts and partnering with colleges.

“Right now, we’re utilizing Indeed, Facebook, Zip Recruiters, and various job fairs,” Sanchez revealed. “Our
turnaround is pretty quick. We review the candidate’s resume, utilize Convey IQ and Calendly for virtual
interviews and scheduling, if the candidate meets all requirements an offer letter is prepared, if offer is
accepted, personal information is requested to process a background check and schedule drug
screening/worksteps, lastly on Wednesday prior to the start date the recruiting team lines out all logistics and Itinerary.”

Which may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Everyone knows what it feels like to apply for a job. When you apply for a job and offer your time and energy, only to be ignored for a few weeks, it doesn’t exactly make you feel like you’re an important addition to the team.

Airway Services knows that their employees are the most important aspect of their company, which is why they go to great lengths to ensure they’re aware of their value.

“The transitional phase is subtle and quick,” Sanchez reiterated. “We’re ready to begin onboarding either the following week [after the interview], or two weeks down the road.”

Communication, Sanchez said, is an important component to the process; communication between HR and the recruiters, and communication between the company and prospective employees.

“Itʼs all about coordinating,” Sanchez said. “We have a great system in place. Our two recruiters have their
processes down and communicate well with each other. One of our recruiters is on-site and the other is
remote, so we use Microso Teams a lot. They’re really dedicated to our industry and to promoting a positive experience to our candidates .”

One of the many ways the Airway Services recruiters bring new employees to the company is via college job

“What we’re doing now is reaching out to colleges who have wind technician programs as well as electrical and mechanical programs. Graduates are new talent in the workforce that companies like Airway Services are competing to attract. Adding a personal touch and staying visible in the hopes that our efforts will spark some interest in these graduates is one of our goals,” Sanchez said. “We’re definitely looking for experienced and trained prospects that can mentor and lead our entry-level technicians.”

But hiring employees is only half the battle; the other half, arguably the most important half, is actually
retaining employees.

Airway Services excels in that, as well.

“Our focus right now is retaining talent, employee engagement and development,” Sanchez said. “For the
month of August we had the lowest turnover rate that we’ve had in all of 2022, which means we’re headed in the right direction.”

They are headed in the right direction, and if prospective employees want to follow in that direction, if they want a career instead of just a job, then they should consider working for Airway Services.

“We’ve got an amazing leadership team that believes and supports our efforts.,” Sanchez said. “That drives this HR team to accelerate towards achieving our personal and professional goals.”