Global products and services provider uses Dassault Falcon 900EX and Falcon 2000 to strengthen and expand its business.
By Phil Rose
Within 3 years his company was providing bottling and transportation equipment to the thriving local brewing industry. Then, in 1894, Alfred Wehmiller, Barry’s brother-in-law, joined the business.
Three years later, the Barry-Wehmiller Machinery Company was incorporated, with Barry as president and Wehmiller as secretary. As the brewing industry grew, so too did Barry-Wehmiller.
The Prohibition years (1920–33) hit the company hard. It responded by diversifying into the dairy and soft drinks business, while still serving the international brewing industry.
The end of Prohibition brought a revival of business, but by the late 1950s the company was struggling to overcome growing market challenges. In 1957, the Wehmiller family sold controlling interest in the company to William Chapman, a former Arthur Andersen accountant who had joined Barry-Wehmiller in 1953 as treasurer.
Four years later, on the death of Alfred Wehmiller’s son Fred, William Chapman became president, and in 1963 ownership of the company passed to the Chapman family. William Chapman’s son Bob, a former Price Waterhouse accountant, joined Barry-Wehmiller in 1969 at his father’s request, and became chairman and CEO after William Chapman’s sudden death in 1975.
At this time, the company had revenues of almost $20 million, but its financial position was weak. Less than a month later, the bank announced that it was freezing Barry-Wehmiller’s line of credit, prompting Bob Chapman to take direct control, cutting costs and implementing disciplines that moved the company into record profitability and financial stability only 9 months later.
Recognizing that Barry-Wehmiller could not sustain itself solely through its historic businesses, Bob Chapman began investing in newer technologies, such as solar power, and acquiring other companies.
In the long term, this proved to be a highly successful strategy, but there were obstacles along the way, such as a steep fall in revenue in the early 1980s that caused the company’s banks to freeze their lines of credit and demand the repayment of outstanding loans.
In May 1987, the leaders of several of Barry-Wehmiller’s acquisitions in the UK seized the opportunity to take those companies public.
The initial public offering (IPO) of those companies on the London Stock Exchange was oversubscribed 35 times, yielding $1.1 billion for $28 million in stock, and enabling BW to pay off its debt.
His company having survived 2 near-fatal crises, Bob Chapman decided to continue the acquisition strategy and transform BW into a company serving markets across the packaging industry.
Chapman takes up the story. “I had traveled extensively for 20 years using commercial airlines, and I tended to go where it was convenient to go.
I went to my board and said, ‘If we’re going to leverage our experience and start doing acquisitions more intentionally, I think we have to look at a corporate aircraft.’ “We now had a strong financial foundation, and the board gave me approval to invest in a corporate aircraft to support our customer strategy.”
BW purchased a half share in a Sabre 40 in late 1987, and engaged American Air Charter, a management company based at SUS (Spirit of St Louis MO) to operate and maintain the aircraft. BW bought the Sabre outright the following year. A Sabre 65 was added in the mid-1990s, the Sabre 40 being replaced later by a Citation VII.
The Sabre 40 was instrumental in securing the company’s first major acquisition – Pneumatic Scale, a publicly traded 100-year-old business based in Quincy MA. “That’s how we began,” notes Chapman. “We started using the aircraft to visit customers and look at acquisitions.
And it made a dramatic impact on my ability to be a father or husband, because I was more in control of my destiny.”
Over the next 35 years, BW would acquire almost 130 companies throughout the world, using its corporate aircraft to transport company executives safely and punctually.
Today it flies a Dassault Falcon 2000 and a Falcon 900EX from its SUS base to destinations throughout the US and Europe, averaging 250–300 hrs per aircraft.
In a typical year, BW carries out 4 international missions. These usually last a week and cover several countries. Domestic missions often include multiple locations over 2 or 3 days.
Bob Chapman’s son Kyle was named BW president in 2020 and serves alongside his father. He notes, “My dad’s decision to invest in a corporate jet in the late ’80s has been instrumental to our ability to work alongside our team members and customers to create long-term value together.”
A flight department is born
Bob Chapman says, “We began looking at Falcons in 2008. Everything we heard about the Falcon 2000 was good, so when the right opportunity came along, we took it.” A
t about this time, Chapman felt it was time to create BW’s own flight department “to ensure that everything we did in terms of flight operations was of the highest standard. We decided to build our own team and hire our own pilots.”
Since the early 2000s Bob Chapman has promoted what he calls “people-centric leadership” over traditional management practices – implementing an inclusive style designed to transform corporate culture and make each team member feel valued. His book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, has attained Wall Street Journal bestseller status.
It was late 2010 when BW bought its first Falcon 2000, a 1995 model. The flight department was formally established in August 2012, and the long association with American Air Charter ended. Eric Morgan, flight ops director at the time, was pivotal in BW’s transition from Part 135 management to an inhouse operation. He was also instrumental in making it an all-Falcon fleet.
In the spring of 2013, a second Falcon 2000 was purchased, and these 2 aircraft served BW until the company acquired a preowned Falcon 900EX in October 2021, allowing the second Falcon 2000 to be sold 2 months later.
Flight department structure
Heading up the flight department is Dir of Flight Ops Jeff Schneider, a 9500-hr TT pilot who joined the company in April 2016 as a captain and achieved his current position 8 months later. “I always wanted to get into flying,” he says, “but I took my 4-year business degree and went into the water sports industry instead.
There I met a lot of pilots who advised me to pursue my interest in aviation. “So I went to SUS, got my private pilot license, completed my ratings – and I was hooked.
That was in 1998.” He continues, “My first flying professional job was with Executive Beechcraft here at SUS, where I worked from 1999 to 2002 supporting sales and charter before becoming a check airman.”
Schneider went on to fly for Cequel III for 7 years before returning to Executive Beechcraft as a Hawker captain and building its first IS-BAO program.
In 2012, Anheuser-Busch InBev was looking for a pilot, and Schneider seized the opportunity. “I was with them until 2016, when the Anheuser-Busch InBev flight department announced plans to relocate out of state.” Schneider had no desire to go. Instead, he says, “Barry-Wehmiller was in the hangar across from us.
I had made friends with some of the guys there. Eric Morgan was BW’s flight ops director at that time, so I expressed my interest to him. I interviewed with BW and 2 other companies, and ended up going with Barry-Wehmiller.” He smiles. “The rest is history.”
Morgan left the company in 2016 and passed the reins to Schneider. “He thought I had the right background and experience, so he gave me the opportunity.
I’ve always been very grateful.” Schneider heads a team of 5 other pilots and a maintenance technician, but many duties are shared.
“We work very hard at keeping it equal across the board,” he insists. “I report directly to Bob Chapman, and I work closely with the corporate office, especially with Executive Office Administrator Michelle Rogers – and that’s about it.” He continues, “Mr Chapman encourages us to be good stewards of the company’s resources, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
On extended trips we typically do what makes the best operational and financial sense. “We rely on the crews to pick up some of the duties when it comes to arrangements for a flight. We usually do the rental car arrangements, but corporate takes care of the passengers’ travel and hotel needs.”
Scheduling and dispatching duties fall to Schneider, who uses ForeFlight and Fltplan.com for flight planning and PFM for ops management.
International trip support is provided by World Fuel Service, which typically makes handler/fuel arrangements and ensures that GenDecs/customs documents are in order.
The global scale of its business interests means that BW has extensive experience operating internationally, especially in Europe. “Before we added the 900EX to our fleet,” says Schneider, “we completed our international missions in the Falcon 2000.
Atlantic ops can be challenging when you have to consider weather and tech stops combined with the 2000’s limited range.
Fortunately, we were ahead of North Atlantic mandates and had Chicago Jet Group install their STC for CPDLC/FANS in order to be compliant for NAT ops.
“The 900EX was properly equipped at purchase, so we just had to complete all of the required FAA letters of authorization (LOAs) once the acquisition was complete.
This was done inhouse by Anthony Huebner and myself. Having the 900EX allows us to fly nonstop to start our European company visits, and it offers more options on the return planning.
In March this year, we departed eastern Europe and were able to return nonstop to SUS.” He continues, “We’ve also used US Customs pre-clearance at SNN (Shannon, Ireland) on a tech stop when returning, since customs was not available at our home base.
This worked very well and we’ll certainly use that option again. The biggest challenge lately has been keeping up with ever-changing Covid rules.” Jeff Schneider’s experience with establishing safety management systems has proved invaluable.
“We’ve built everything based on IS-BAO guidance,” he notes. “We’re not IS-BAO certified, but we are IS-BAO compliant. We follow all safety management protocols and duty recommendations, and we self audit.”
Chief Pilot Dan Krenning grew up in St Louis and followed the example set by his father, who worked for McDonnell Douglas. He recounts, “I graduated from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg MO in 1995, minoring in aviation technology and getting my ratings.
I was a flight instructor before getting hired by TWA in 1997 as a ground school instructor.” Krenning spent several years flying ATR 42/72s and EMB-145s for Trans States Airlines, before being hired by FlightSafety Intl STL in 2007 as an instructor on the EMB-145.
Three years later, he began flying for American Air Charter, the SUS-based company that managed BW’s flight operations.
After a brief stint back at FSI, he came on board with BW in June 2015 as a Falcon 2000 pilot. He currently has 7000 hrs TT. “I set up all the training for everybody and do the record keeping,” says Krenning.
“But on a lot of the other duties – keeping manuals and checklists up to date, for example – everybody pitches in.” Krenning reflects, “This is the best job I’ve had. The company treats us well.
And Mr Chapman lives what he preaches. I’ve never had pushback, or had my decision-making questioned. We do what we have to – whatever it takes to have a safe flight department.”
Senior Captain Jerry Schrader has been with BW since January 2017. Currently a 16,200-hr TT pilot, his interest in aviation was sparked by his father, a former WWII paratrooper and civilian flight instructor.
“I just fell in love with aviation from as early as I can remember,” he says. “I’ve always had a passion for it.” That passion led Schrader to a line service position with Columbia Flying Service at COU (Columbia MO). After obtaining his private pilot license, he became a flight instructor with Tig Air and later a charter pilot with Central Missouri Aviation.
Schrader would go on to fly ATR 42/72s for Trans World Express before taking a position with Dillard’s Department Stores, where he flew a King Air 200 and soon gained his first jet rating, on a Citation II. A succession of corporate flying jobs in Missouri and for the Dallas Cowboys followed, leading eventually to Schrader’s return to COU, where he flew a Global 6000 and Challenger 300.
And then Jeff Schneider contacted him. Schrader recalls, “When I was with Dillard’s, we were based with Executive Beechcraft at SUS. At that time, Jeff Schneider was a line pilot for them, which is how I first knew him.
Anyway, I stayed in touch with him, and that’s how I came to be here.” “BW is a fantastic company to work for. And that comes from the top down. Bob Chapman’s book Everybody Matters says it all – they really do put people first.”
Senior Captain Anthony Huebner can remember the moment he fell in love with aviation. “I went to an air show at Scott AFB, near my house, when I was 7 or 8 years old. I remember walking into the mouth of a C-5 and thinking, ‘This is the coolest thing ever.’ I never thought it was something I would do – I thought it was just going to be a hobby.
“Circumstances led me to abandon my early pursuit of music as a career. On a whim, I decided to go to St Louis University (SLU) to see what majors they had to offer.
I saw Aviation Science on the list and I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this’.” Huebner gained his private license in 1997 and was instructing at SLU by 2000. Four years later he started working for Executive Beechcraft at SUS.
After 10 years flying King Airs, Beechjet 400s, and Hawker 800XPs, he moved over to Cequel III, also based at SUS, flying a Hawker 800XP and Falcon 900EX. In 2018 Jeff Schneider approached him.
Huebner recalls, “We’d worked together at Executive Beechcraft, and he knew that I was still on the field at SUS. Jeff thought I could possibly be a good fit for BW, but he was equally concerned that it would be a good fit all round for everybody.
I found that really encouraging.” Huebner joined Barry-Wehmiller in June 2018. He currently has 5800 hrs TT and flies around 225 hrs a year for the company. “It’s always been important to me to have a purpose beyond just flying from point A to point B,” he says.
“The most satisfying thing for me is that I’ve seen Mr Chapman’s mission and that of the company play out. This is a place I could happily retire from and feel like I was a contribution to that.”
Junior Captain Darryl Bell has been with BW since October 2018. A 5200-hr TT pilot, his memories of growing up in southern California include watching his father, a Navy aviator, doing touch-and-go landings at NAS Miramar in Grumman C-2s and E-2s.
In the late 1980s, his father ended a 20-year Navy career and began flying for TWA at STL (Lambert, St Louis MO), and the family settled in the area. “I got into aviation in late 2002,” recalls Bell.
“My first job after college and flight school was banner towing, flying Piper Cubs in Myrtle Beach SC.” A succession of Part 135 jobs took Bell to Hawaii and Texas. He continues, “Somewhere in the middle of all that, I interviewed for Meisinger Aviation (Executive Beechcraft) at SUS, and in early 2010 they offered me a job. That’s what brought me back home to the St Louis area.” Bell worked for Meisinger for almost 9 years.
“It was a really good introduction to international ops, flying King Airs and Learjets all over the world.” By early 2018, though, Bell says, “I started to see that, if I wanted to progress into bigger corporate aircraft, I needed to make a move. So I reached out to Jeff Schneider, who had also worked at Meisinger.
We had good rapport, and we had mutual friends. In late 2018, he called me up and told me he had a position open. So I jumped on it, and here I am.” Bell ends with a comment about Bob Chapman. “If you’ve read his book Everybody Matters, you’ll know Bob cares about us. He’s a pleasure to have as a CEO.”
Newest member of the team, Junior Captain Andrew Kisela grew up around aviation. He explains, “My grandfather was a private pilot, and my father was a corporate pilot. Dad owned airplanes throughout my childhood and helped get me going on my private pilot license.”
Kisela enrolled in Western Michigan University’s aviation program and graduated in 2008, having qualified as a CFI a few months earlier. A short period of flight instructing came to an end with the economic recession, and for the next several years he flew Falcon 20s for IFL Group out of PTK (Intl, Pontiac MI).
In 2016, a family friend put Kisela in touch with SpiritJets at SUS, where he spent the next 5 years flying Gulfstream G200s, Hawkers, and Falcon 900s. Then, in early 2021, one of SpiritJets’ first officers who had worked with Darryl Bell in the past and knew that BW was looking to hire a junior captain, gave Kisela Bell’s phone number.
The phone call went well. Bell passed the word to Jeff Schneider, who called Kisela a week later to set up an interview. “A week after that, I had a job offer,” recalls Kisela. “It’s a great story of how networking affects your life and your career.” Kisela was already type-rated on the Falcon 900, so Barry-Wehmiller sent him to school on the 2000. He currently has 6500 hrs TT.
As a junior captain, he is flying only domestic missions for now. “I’ve been here less than a year,” he notes, “but my initial reactions to the company are extremely positive. The owners trust us to make appropriate decisions for the best operation of the aircraft. It’s all very professional.”
With the help of a family friend, Maintenance Director Dustin Jones landed his first job with the Anheuser-Busch flight department at SUS. He notes, “I enjoyed the environment down there, and went on to get my A&P license.
Then, as soon as I got done with that – it was around 2008 – Anheuser-Busch became part of InBev and started selling off its airplanes.” Next, Jones went to work for West Star Aviation ALN (East Alton IL).
“I worked for West Star for 11 1/2 years, and they were contracting me out to Emerson Electric’s flight department here at SUS. Then, in April 2019, Emerson hired me full-time, and 4 months later I got offered this position.
“I’m the only maintenance tech employed by BW,” explains Jones. “Both of our Falcons are on Dassault’s OCIP (Optimized Continuous Inspection Program), so I do all the calendar items, monthly preventative maintenance, and squawks.
Dassault Aircraft Services has a satellite service center on the field that does most of our engine work. All of our engines are on Honeywell’s MSP (Maintenance Service Plan).”
Jones notes that Dassault’s new online spares service “has been good, for the most part – and Avant Aerospace (a West Star company) has been extremely helpful with acquiring spares at reasonable prices.” Jones has worked on Falcons throughout his career. “I love the 2000,” he says, “and the 900EX is a tremendous machine. They’re workhorses – they like to be flown.”
Hiring requirements, duty hours, pay and conditions
BW looks for experienced crew with a minimum of 3000 hrs TT, preferably including midsize jet experience. Duty hours follow IS-BAO guidance, with crews expected to work alternating weekends.
Benefits include health insurance, dental and vision, life insurance, short- and long-term disability, and 401K savings plan. Loss-of-license insurance may be added in the future. Pilots attend FlightSafety Intl DFW (Dallas–Fort Worth TX) for recurrent training.
Bob Chapman is a loyal Dassault customer. “Falcons have a reputation for safety and integrity. The 2000 is an exceptional plane, and the 900EX allows us to fly to Europe nonstop.
From every dimension, we’re extremely pleased with our Falcons. And our goal is to have the highest safety standards of any operation we can imagine, from a maintenance standpoint.
We never discuss budgets – we make decisions based purely on what is the right thing to do to maintain these aircraft.” He concludes, “Today, we’re a $3.2-billion organization with 12,000 team members around the world. The company has performed extremely strongly in recent years – but there’s no way we could have found the acquisition opportunities we did without these jets.”