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COMMANDING PRESENCE: RJ GOMEZ

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When opportunity knocks, you have to open the door. Sounds simple, but the fear of the unknown, of finding out what may lurk on the other side of opportunity, stops a lot of people from answering. RJ Gomez admits he was fearful when he heard that knock back in the summer of 2005, but he turned the knob, and today he’s glad he did.


Gomez was working at Downtown Airpark in 2005 when that company closed its doors, putting 75 experienced people--Gomez included--out of a job. Attorneys handling the closing approached Gomez and Kevin Chance asked if they wanted to take over the facility for a year to protect the receivers.


“I said to them that I don’t have a company,” Gomez recalls. “But I talked to some of the former employees, and two weeks after Downtown shut down we had Legacy up and running.”


He had asked his new employees to show up for their first day of work at 7:30 a.m. on a Monday. “I was really excited to watch the parking lot fill up,” he says. “We had 20 people report for work, and there was already a Commander there waiting for us.”


Legacy’s early days were focused on interior refurbishments while Gomez worked to develop the maintenance side. He contacted Twin Commander Aircraft about becoming an authorized service center, and eventually convinced then-president Jim Matheson that Legacy was for real. “Jim visited us, and he believed in us,” Gomez says. The service center authorization was granted.


Gomez was born and raised in Venezuela. His father, a former governor and congressman of a Venezuelan state, was an attorney for a firm that operated a 690A Commander. “His seat was on the right side, next to the picture window,” Gomez says. That early exposure to flying infected the three Gomez brothers--all wanted to be pilots.


After graduating from high school in Caracas, Gomez enrolled at the University of Oklahoma to study English and, later, business administration. While there he learned about the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa which, at the time, had a program that provided A&P students with flight instruction.


“I convinced my dad to let me go to Spartan because I wanted to be a mechanic,” Gomez says. “Dad liked it. My plan was to get my A&P certificate and my pilot’s certificate, and show my dad.” It turns out that Gomez took to the A&P training, and concentrated exclusively on that.


After two years at Spartan, he returned to Venezuela. Although short on shop experience, Gomez was bilingual, and was hired by Miquel Benatar at Aerocentro de Servicios, an authorized Twin Commander service center in Caracas. He started as a mechanic, but soon moved to the parts department. Gomez spent the next 15 years managing a staff of eight and providing parts support for Aerocentro’s customer base of 50 Commanders, 50 Cessna Citations, and 50 Learjets.


His success at Aerocentro attracted the attention of others in the Twin Commander Aircraft service center network, and Gomez was offered the parts manager position at Downtown Airpark in Oklahoma City. In his first year he moved the company from eighth to first in parts sales among authorized service centers. He later was named general manager.


When Downtown Airpark closed, Gomez quickly formed a company, hired key people, and launched his own service center, Legacy Aviation Services. The knock had come, and Gomez had answered.


“My father passed in Venezuela when I was here in Oklahoma City,” he says. “When I was young he told me to go to Oklahoma and do something with my life. I wish he was still alive to see what we have done.”




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