'She Knows The Whole Deal' -- an Interview With Lancair's Kim Lorentzen (Part 2) | Aero-News Network
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Thu, May 26, 2005

'She Knows The Whole Deal' -- an Interview With Lancair's Kim Lorentzen (Part 2)

Customer Service Manager Discusses What Lancair Customers Are Building And How (Part Two of Three)

KL: Anyway, the builder assist program has been very successful. Almost everybody comes in at least for two weeks. And for the Lancair IV, and the ES, four weeks is a good number if you can, because you get so much glass work done.

Aero-News: I would think that the typical Lancair customer is less someone who wants the experience of building, and more someone that wants to own a Lancair, and wants to fly a Lancair.

KL: Yeah... you talk to both. At the show here, I've talked to a lot of people that just say, "I'm not interested in building, I'd rather just fly," and another guy that [asks], "Can I build? I know I know how to fly airplanes, but can I build one?" For him, I recommend, before you put down $80,000 for a kit, buy the manual. Get the assembly manual! He was interested in the ES and we just rewrote the ES manual with photos and all, and I said, "this is perfect for you. If you can understand what you read, you should not have a problem putting this airplane together."

Aero-News: Would something like the Sportair Composite Workshop be worthwhile? Because with the Lancair, because so much of it's prepared for you, you have prepreg parts, everything comes more or less in net size and shape....

KL: There still is a lot of glass work. It's not cutting foam...

Aero-News: But you're gonna get familiar with sanding.

KL: Oh, yeah.

Aero-News: I interrupted you -- I'm a great interrupter -- but you were talking about, four weeks is about right for the ES, the IV. Those are a fairly complicated airplane, and I imagine they're quite sensitive to rig, and being put together right, at the speeds they fly?

KL: Well, it just is the reassurance that the wings have been closed up, that they've been built properly. The tail's been properly -- it's still going to be up to them to bond the tail on, but the wings have already been mated into the fuselage. I just wouldn't question a kit that went through four weeks.

Aero-News: And I guess that's a great confidence-builder for the owner-builder.

KL: Oh yeah! One of the guys that -- again, that I've seen here at the show -- his airplane's in paint now. He had NEVER worked with composites, never built anything.  He works with a television network somehow, and I'm not sure what he does. His airplane is now in paint, and he's just so excited: he built the whole thing himself, no help -- well, he might have, with the engine and panel. But you know, he had NO experience. He was a pilot.

Aero-News: And he used your builder assist?

KL: He ended up coming through -- he might have done two weeks, back then.

Aero-News: He's a long-term builder, then.

KL: Yeah, he was before we started the four weeks -- or, up to completion now. We have a program for the Legacy and the Legacy Fixed Gear, you can come out and spend ten weeks with us, and fly your airplane.

Aero-News: Wow!

KL: And we say, you pay for ten weeks. It could be ten weeks, it could be ten to fourteen weeks because of the tweaking and getting the panel installed... we've had quite a few people go through the completion program.

Aero-News: So a majority, or a very high percentage of the kits you sell now, do the builder's assist?

KL: If they don't, it's due to going overseas, where they can't come back, or someone's just talked 'em out of it, saying, "I can help you and we can do it." But I'll tell you: once you build these tables, and these fixtures, and these cradles, you probably have $2,000 in materials. And it's $4,000 for one week! And it's for these tables you
will need for just a very short time.

Aero-News: Yeah, you see people trying to sell them on the secondary market. And the problem is, nobody's right at that stage. "I wish I'd known about this two weeks ago."

KL: Right. And, somebody from California is not going to travel to Florida to pick up a jig.

Aero-News: I'm sure you get feedback from the customers -- I imagine the vast majority of it's going to be positive.

KL: Yeah. The only problem that I've seen, is with the completion program: that the customers just expect it to be completely done at the end of that ten weeks. Even though we told them, there could be plus two or three weeks, maybe four.... and so it would be good if they came out for eight weeks, left, and let us do the firewall-forward, and electrical (which you can hire done), and when we get the gear retraction, weight and balance, get all the little bugs worked out, come back and we'll have our first flight.

That, I think, would work out much better. These guys were just sticking around... and they just expected everything... well, they had never built an airplane before. And the "90% done, 90% to go," rule applies.

Aero-News: Can you give me an estimate, or guesstimate, of what percentage of your customers have never built an airplane before?

KL: It would just be a guess, but I would guess over 50%.

Aero-News: Do you get repeat Lancair builders?

KL: Yeah. A small percentage, but I would guess maybe five to ten percent of our builders.

Aero-News: Like the guys in North County who built a Lancair IV and then a IVP.

KL: Was that Charlie [name]?

Aero-News (amazed that Kim remembers one customer from Lancair's thousands -- and I don't): It was Charlie somebody, yeah, and his buddy... Don?

KL (positive): Don [name]. [We had another brief digression, discussing our positive experiences with these builders].

To Be Continued...
FMI: www.lancair-kits.com

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