DrVita builds sales with new Phenom 300

Vitamin company's latest Embraer bizjet replaces earlier Phenom 100 and is managed by Clay Lacy.

Dressed to maintain sterile room conditions, VP Manufacturing Eiger Björnstad (C) supervises as technicians review the encapsulation machine setup and owner Wayne Gorsek (R) observes. DrVita custom manufactures its own formulations to ensure consistent quality.

"We use it to attend trade shows to keep up with the latest science in our industry," he says. "We use it to visit suppliers all over America, and to evaluate and negotiate acquisitions," noting that his company recently acquired MotherNature. com. Gorsek also cites health, security and reliability advantages to flying on the Phenom. "You know who is on board and what's on board," he says.

DrVita is based in Las Vegas NV and has offices and manufacturing facilities there. Gorsek typically operates out of Signature LAS (McCarran, Las Vegas NV) and FLL (Intl, Fort Lauderdale FL), where he has another business venture.

Gorsek's Phenom 300 is managed by Clay Lacy Aviation, where it is currently on track to fly about 600 hrs annually, including about 400 hrs in charter and 150–200 in pursuit of Gorsek's business interests. The aircraft is operated to Part 135 standards in charter and under Part 91 rules for Gorsek's business-related flights. He says he chose Lacy's operation to manage the Phenom because of the company's longstanding reputation, and has been satisfied with the results.

A regular Clay Lacy crew is assigned to the aircraft, consisting of Capt Dean Sibley and Co-Captain/ First Officer Ismar Avdic. Sibley routinely flies as SIC with Gorsek, and was recently named lead pilot for an anticipated Clay Lacy charter fleet of Phenom 300s slated to replace older light jets.

A native of Whittier CA, Sibley began flying at 15 and earned his licenses at Sierra Academy at OAK (Oakland CA). He flew traffic watch in Oakland before moving to Hawaii to fly Cessna 402s for Air Molokai for 2 years, then back to California to fly night freight between Corona and San Diego in Cessna 210s.

Following a 4-year stint in Alaska where he flew seaplanes out of 52Z (Moose Pass AK), SWD (Seward AK) and seaplane bases at Summit Lake and Trail Lake, Sibley landed a jet job with Worldwide Jets at ONT (Ontario CA) flying Gulfstream IIIs.

When the recession hit in 2008, Sibley began flying FedEx-branded Caravans for West Air at ONT. It was there he met Avdic, who was also following a somewhat convoluted path to a corporate flightdeck job.

DrVita Supply Chain Management VP Bobby Brar locates and procures the raw materials, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs and other nutrients, used to formulate the company's products.

By 2010 the corporate market was recovering and Sibley was hired by Jet Flight Intl at VNY (Van Nuys CA) to fly a Bombardier Learjet 60. Last year he began doing contract work for Clay Lacy at VNY, and earlier this year was hired full time to fly Gorsek's Phenom 300.

Avdic was about 10 years old when he developed an interest in airplane models and joined a local flight club in his native Tuzla, Bosnia. At 16 he began flying gliders and also became a parachute jumper—a requirement in Bosnia to fly gliders.

Ultimately, Avdic made more than 200 jumps. He came to the US in 1995 at age 21 to pursue a flying career and trained at New Garden Aviation at N57 (Toughkenamon PA), supporting himself with a ground support job with Ryan Intl where he was a parts manager for Boeing 737s and Douglas DC8s and DC9s.

Ryan transferred Avdic to California, where he continued his flight training at Ray's Flying Club at FUL (Fullerton CA). To enhance his marketability, Avdic earned an A&P rating at Long Beach College and also attended Embry-Riddle there.

In 2005 he was hired by West Coast Charters to fly King Air 200s at SNA (Santa Ana CA) where he worked for 2 years before joining FedEx carrier West Air to fly Caravans. He was also giving flight instruction during this time at both SNA and VNY. Earlier this year he joined Clay Lacy Aviation as first officer on Gosek's Phenom 300.

Gorsek, Sibley and Avdic attended CAE's Phenom 300 initial training program in Dallas where Sibley and Avdic were type rated to fly the 300 as a crew. Gorsek is single pilot rated in both the Phenom 100 and 300 and says he chose the 300 based on an extensive study of available business jets. He had his eye initially on a Hawker Beechcraft Premier IA, and even acquired a crew type rating from FSI in preparation for purchase, but ultimately decided he didn't like aspects of its handling.

Visiting the factory

A trip to Brazil to see Embraer's manufacturing facilities at SJK (São José dos Campos SP) and GPX (Gavião Peixoto SP) convinced him that the Phenoms "reflect the latest technology and the most up-to-date design," which is important to him. He also preferred the Garmin avionics package installed in the Phenoms, which is similar to what he learned to use in the Diamond DA42 Twin Star he owned before acquiring his Phenom 100.

"Salesmen for some of the other companies told me the Garmins were for little airplanes, not jets," he said, "but I actually believe they represent a higher degree of capability and more recent technology than what the competitors were offering."

Gorsek's Phenom 300 is the first of its kind to be equipped with the new European-standard TCAS II Version 7.1, which provides updated traffic resolution advisories when the conflicting traffic or the host aircraft does not respond as expected. "Studies show TCAS 7.1 is 400% more effective than 7.0," notes Gorsek. "I was happy to invest in the extra protection afforded by the latest system."

He says he purchased every available safety option on the 300, including upgraded radar, onboard defibulator and life rafts. "You can't put a price on safety," he says.
Gorsek also opted for an extra day of simulator training at CAE during his last recurrency training, which included emphasis on dual engine failures, both at low altitudes and FL400.

He previously took upset recovery training with Aviation Performance Solutions at IWA (Gateway, Phoenix–Mesa AZ) and believes such training should be a requirement for anyone flying jets. "Until you've seen what can happen and learned how you need to react properly, your chances of surviving an actual upset are poor," he says.

Gorsek's Phenom 300 is maintained to Embraer factory authorized standards at Clay Lacy's VNY facility. Clay Lacy Aviation is an authorized Phenom 100 and 300 service center. The aircraft is on both the Embraer Executive Care maintenance and Pratt & Whitney's ESP program for its PW535E turbofans.

Pilot Sibley coordinates the Phenom 300's service and maintenance, and says Embraer's product support for the airplane has been outstanding. "They're much more responsive than the other companies I'm used to dealing with," he says.

While Gorsek considers the Phenom 300 an ideal airplane for him, he already has his eye on an upgrade. When DrVita begins to exceed the performance of his former company, he says, he'd like to move into an Embraer Legacy 500, "assuming the price/value equation on that airplane is as good as it is today."

Mike Potts is an aviation consultant and freelance writer. He worked in corporate communications for Beech and Raytheon Aircraft between 1979 and 1997.


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