FLIGHT DEPT OF THE YEAR

Williams-Sonoma sells to the kitchen connoisseur

International growth in the houseware stores and catalog markets with use of a Bombardier Global 5000.


The Williams-Sonoma catalog and its top-quality products has become a mainstay for professional chefs and home cooks alike since 1972.

The reason for this was Butte County SO's need for a pilot and Memmott's experience, so he was quickly trained on the departments' helicopters and airplanes which included an OH6, Bell OH58, Bell 206, and a Cessna 182.

By 2006, federal grant money, which the sheriff's office relied on to keep their flight program running, had begun to dry up and Memmott was going to be assigned to street patrol. "By that time, I was identifying more as a pilot than a police officer working on the street, so I left law enforcement to seek a flying job," he explains. Memmott then made his way to Houston TX to instruct Embraer 145 ground school. He also flew as a line pilot for Continental Express Airlines, which he used as a stepping-stone for his first corporate flying job with a company based in New York and Geneva.

In 2008 Memmott joined Sands Aviation in Las Vegas as a Gulfstream III/IV/V pilot and standardization captain. During this time Memmott received a phone call from Stouffer, Williams-Sonoma, Inc's chief pilot. A mutual friend had recommended Memmott for one of the soon-to-be-vacated positions and, with their law enforcement backgrounds, Memmott and Stouffer quickly became friends. In 2010, Memmott was hired to take over for Fuzzy, who was retiring as director of aviation.

Having experienced the tumultuous schedules of law enforcement, airline, and executive aviation, working for Williams-Sonoma, Inc has been a welcome relief. "This aircraft is used 100% only for business and because of that, we know in advance when and where we are going. There are no true pop-ups like most corporate jobs. For us, a pop-up is less than a week's notice as opposed to a few hours," explains Memmott. "With that said, our trips can be demanding. We rarely spend more than one night in a location. We work hard to keep our passengers on schedule and to maximize the utilization of the aircraft."

Chief Pilot Eric Broadbent (L) and Pilot Todd Lineberger both held corporate flying positions prior to joining the team. They appreciate the professionalism, family-friendly schedule and comradery at the Williams-Sonoma, Inc flight department.

Much of this approach to the use of the aircraft he credits to CEO Laura Alber. When she took over Williams-Sonoma, Inc 7 years ago, the changes she made to the company also impacted the flight department. "Ms Alber views the plane as a tool. It was certainly not a pleasure craft before her, but she has been more selective in the flights we will take," Memmott says.

During Alber's tenure, the company has seen accelerated global expansion but has been able to reduce flight hours through smart scheduling. They still manage to put over 400 hours a year on the aircraft, combined domestically and internationally. With stores popping up in Australia, Europe, Middle East, and most recently in Mexico and South Korea, their airplane allows them to visit more locations, more often than would be possible with commercial travel.

Chief Pilot Eric Broadbent

For a Fortune 500 company flight department operating only 1 aircraft, personnel must possess the right training, experience and personality.

Eric Broadbent was born and raised in Logan UT where he attended Utah State University and earned his BS degree in their Aviation Technology Professional Pilot program in 2003. By the time he finished school, he had obtained his CFII and MEI ratings and for the next year and a half worked as a flight instructor at the university. "Corporate flying has always been my goal," Broadbent admits. So he made his way to Las Vegas where he knew his chances for employment would improve. He began flying tours and building flight hours with Scenic Airlines.

As is often the case, knowing the right person makes the difference. A friend of Broadbent's made an introduction that allowed him to fly right-seat in Gulfstreams and Beechjets, which ultimately led to a job with Sands Aviation as assistant chief pilot. That's when he met Memmott. By 2012, Memmott, already at Williams-Sonoma, Inc, called Broadbent to offer the chief pilot spot at his new company.

"Corporate flying can be tough on your family life. It's not that way here. Without the last-minute flights and having a good idea of our upcoming flight schedule, it all makes it so much better for someone like me with a young family. And on top of all of that, the people with Williams-Sonoma are great. Every one of them is appreciative and they show it," he remarks.

Likewise, Broadbent appreciates their dedication to the pilots with complete trust in their decision-making, whether it's a go/no-go call on a flight, supporting them with their annual recurrent training at CAE Dallas, or taking their recommendations when the time comes for additional or replacement aircraft.

Broadbent reiterates CEO Alber's approach to their flying when he explains, "It is not uncommon for us to make 13 stops in 5 days on a trip. For Williams-Sonoma Inc perhaps even more so than other companies, this plane is a tool and they take full advantage of it."

Pilot Todd Lineberger

Todd Lineberger is the 3d member of the flying team. The grandson of a WWII B17 pilot, his fascination with aviation goes back to attending airshows as a child. He took his first solo flight by the age of 16 and earned his private license at 17.

Lineberger left his hometown of Riverbank CA and took a job as a fueler at an FBO in Stockton. "I just wanted to fly and it was hard to build hours so if a seat would open up on a flight, I'd jump in," Lineberger relates. This led to a job piloting King Airs and eventually to a spot in jets with Pinnacle Airlines out of Minneapolis in 2008. A phone call in 2012 brought him back to Stockton to fly a Cessna Citation Excel.

After some recommendations and over a year of waiting, he was brought on with Williams-Sonoma, Inc, and Lineberger could not be happier with his current position. "This is absolutely the best flying job I've had. It's such a dynamic company with a great variety of flights. At 30 years old I get to see the world," he says. And much like his partners, Lineberger is grateful for the lifestyle he is afforded.

He adds, "Williams-Sonoma allows me an excellent balance of work and family life. They respect the pilots and accept our input without question. Just like they view the plane, they look at us as an asset to the company. This is a once in a lifetime job."

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