Every morning at 7:30, Scott Dillon takes a walk around the shop floor at Eagle Creek Aviation Services in Indianapolis. It’s a place he knows well, because it’s the only place he’s ever worked.
A self-described “pain in the ass,” directionless kid when he was in high school, Dillon turned to something he did enjoy—“airplane stuff”—and earned an Airframe & Powerplant certificate. He had friends from A&P school who had found work at Eagle Creek, so Dillon applied. “I faxed my application to them several times a day for a month,” he recalls. “Then the human resources person called and said if I give you an interview will you stop pestering me. I said no, give me a job.” He got the job, an entry-level technician, earning $7.50 an hour.
“When I started working at Eagle Creek I just wanted enough money to pay for my own apartment and vehicle,” Dillon says. That modest ambition would soon take off. As he gained experience he gained the confidence of Eagle Creek managers, who promoted him to crew chief, then inspector, then service manager. In early 2008 he was dispatched to Florida to be director of maintenance at the then-new Naples Jet Center. His wife Lindsey worked there as well.
Dillon began building his NJC team, and was named general manager. In 2015 he was called back to Indianapolis for the biggest assignment of his career by far—to manage all of Eagle Creek’s five properties including Eagle Creek Aviation Center, Naples Jet Center, and Montgomery Aviation at Indianapolis Executive Airport. Together they employ some 150 people. When he walks the shop floor now, it is as Executive Vice President, second-in-command to Eagle Creek founder and CEO Matt Hagans.
“He has grown up in our business,” Hagans says. “He’s held virtually every job from mechanic to supervisor to inspector to sales, and every job he has had he has excelled at it. He went to Naples to run it, and he really got it up and going in a positive manner. He’s done the same thing with the whole company. He has a built-in leadership quality that is so hard to define.”
“I give a lot of credit to Matt,” Dillon answers. “He mentored me. He’s taken me under his wing and worked hard with me.” He also remembers Cathy Hagans, who passed away in February 2015, as being “one of my biggest supporters. Matt and Cathy were really good to me, and I definitely appreciate that.”
Dillon says his greatest asset is his experience as a technician. “I can’t tell you how much it has served me,” he says. His predecessors had business backgrounds but lacked a hands-on understanding of the technical side, and that can be a problem when the company’s core activity is maintenance.
Much of Dillon’s time now is occupied with the mundane details of managing, like pouring over Excel spreadsheets and signing off on employee reviews. But he will make time to take calls from customers. He knows it’s what got him where he is. “Someone with an airplane problem wants to work with someone who knows what they are talking about,” he says.