From left, Flightdocs COO Rick Heine, Founder and CEO Jeff Heine and Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Simmons at the grand opening of the new Flightdocs Technology Center. Photo by Jim Jett

Aviation document management company is first in flights

Bonita Springs-based Flightdocs doubles its space with plans to double its workforce. One key to attracting talent: It pays 'New York' wages.
By: 
Aug. 10, 2018

Flightdocs founder and CEO Rick Heine moved his groundbreaking internet-based aviation maintenance tracking system from New York to Southwest Florida in 2009, intending to reinvest tax savings and take advantage of fewer regulations.

The company, back then, moved to Bonita Springs with a staff of 10. Nearly a decade later, Flightdocs is grappling with another issue, a good-to-have business challenge: managing rapid growth. It does that, says Heine, through paying better for better talent, then utilizing its workforce to stay ahead of trends and competitors with new products. 

Flightdocs recently opened a second office near its headquarters in the Riverview Center office park to house its new technology center and accommodate up to 35 additional software developers. The 7,500 new square feet will double the space the company previously occupied and free up space in the main office to expand its customer support operations.

Over the past five years, Flightdocs has seen on average 30% to 40% growth in revenue year-over-year; officials decline to disclose specific revenue figures. In addition to growth, the company has a 98% customer retention rate, currently supporting several thousand aircraft worldwide across more than 250 models in several aviation segments.

More than quadrupling personnel in nine years with plans to double it again in the next three presents challenges Heine says are better facilitated in Florida than in New York. The company has some 65 employees today, with plans to surpass 120 by 2021, about 60 of them software developers. It attracts developers, he says, by offering nationally competitive salaries and benefits and providing creativity-inspiring, collaborative workspace.

The new 7,500 space has room for 60 software developers, just less than double the current number of programmers. Photo by Jim Jett

“The standard challenges of scaling our team, building out new facilities and constantly innovating are things we deal with every day,” says Heine. “We expect significant growth over the next 10 years. We are the only company to provide fully paperless operations that meet the requirements of all air regulatory agencies around the world. With the velocity it’s growing, we’re just getting started.”

Flightdocs provides cloud-based aviation maintenance, compliance and inventory management under a software-as-a-service model. The company’s software enables aircraft owners and operators to track and manage the maintenance and airworthiness of their aircraft, comply with safety rules and regulatory guidelines, reduce costs, mitigate risk and minimize asset downtime.

Practically alone in its space, Flightdocs is racing to keep up. “The economy has been picking up," Heine says. "Business has been booming along, and we’ve introduced some new products that have really taken off.”

Heine says the company invested millions of dollars developing its Enterprise system, which debuted in 2016, then followed up with its release of HMX — exclusively for the helicopter community. A new mobile app provides seamless document streaming between flight crews and maintenance and inventory personnel for real-time reporting and repair of mechanical issues.

Next is a new program that incorporates flight scheduling, which will allow, for the first time says Heine, 100% paperless aviation operations. That product is expected to launch in October. More companies going paperless means more business, and a need for continued innovation. To keep up with the increasing demand while simultaneously developing new products, Flightdocs recruits developers locally and nationally, enticing talent with large-market pay and benefits. 

'With the velocity it’s growing, we’re just getting started.' Rick Heine, Flightdocs 

In addition to bringing in experienced developers, the company offers an internship program in association with Florida Gulf Coast University that trains talent in real-world situations, preparing them to be job-ready at graduation. Flightdocs has 17 FGCU graduates on its technology team.

“We pay New York salaries,” says Heine. “When these guys deliver and deliver big-time, they’re worth it. We're going through a big growth spurt. We have the capacity to handle what we’re going through, but we don’t exceed that barrier. When we get to the point where we’re really growing and we have to expand again, we’ll make the big investment to make the jumps, but we will never grow beyond our ability to service our customers.”

The competitive pay and benefits attract talent. That puts Flightdocs in the enviable position of being selective.

“We have a very good vetting structure. I'd probably be afraid to try to go through the rigor,” says Heine. “It’s all very friendly, but before you come in you have to have the ability to do the job because we serve a market where you can’t put errors into it. The code has to be solid.”

As commercial aviation trends ever more toward paperless operations, Flightdocs is poised to take advantage of that shift. While there are no currently plans to enter the commercial airline market, Heine says “it’s on our radar."