Mikal “Butch” Kissick served his country in the U.S. Navy for 28 years. He was a naval flight officer who flew the F-14 Tomcat. In Pensacola, he went through flight school then later retired there. At the time of his retirement, Kissick’s neighbor, also a Navy pilot, had an existing brick and mortar business that sold custom flight gear to students going through flight training. Kissick was hired on to manage the store. He quickly learned the ins and outs of retail then bought the business four years later, now known as Wings Pensacola Inc.
“The store provides a social context in my life,” said Kissick. “It’s very unique and fun working for myself. Most importantly, it allows me to continue contributing to the preparedness of our nation’s military.”
His gear helps equip the warfighters in their expeditions. Butch observes that he feels he is “still contributing to the organization that helped shape my life.”
“I make a special product called a Kneeboard for pilots, and that’s the heart of my business,” said Kissick. “It’s a cloth clipboard and I provide the very best flight gear in the world – it’s on the International Space Station, the astronauts have my Kneeboards tied to their legs. NATO pilots fly with it so if you’re a Spaniard flying an F-18 or somebody from Norway or Denmark in a F-16, you’re flying with a 9-G Plus Kneeboard that I made.”
Wings Pensacola has sought the services of the Florida SBDC at UWF for many years, from the start of the business plan to later seeking help on government contracting through the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
Butch said he benefitted from the software he learned through the Florida SBDC as well, citing Profit Mastery as “changing his approach to do business” and described how it allowed him to “view my business like my banker does, which was an eye-opener.” Wings Pensacola worked with Laura Subel, a Procurement Specialist at the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UWF, for guidance on the levels of contracting in federal government, in addition to completing a bulk buy of his products from a military organization.
After ten years, Wings Pensacola is still growing and evolving just like the owner. Butch reveals:
“I am still learning how to conduct business smarter and more efficiently."