By Shari Valenta
The father and son team of Randall and Morgan Cumley co-own the Denver and Colorado Springs branches of Immaculate Flight, a company that specializes in aircraft detailing. Immaculate Flight is a nationwide cooperative network; each franchise shares the name, supplies and training, but is independently owned. The Immaculate Flight network covers 60 airports. In Colorado, the Cumleys’ territory includes Centennial Airport, Jefferson County Airport (BJC), Denver International Airport (DEN), Fort Collins/Loveland Municipal Airport (FNL) and Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS).
“If it involves cleaning of any type, we’re equipped to do it,” said son Morgan. “We’ll work on anything from a Cessna up to a Gulfstream V.”
The exterior cleaning process begins with an inspection of the client’s plane.
“If they’re getting the exterior cleaned, we take notes and talk about what exactly we’re going to do that day,” said Cumley.
The team determines if the craft needs a full or partial detail or if special chemicals need to be used. If the customer wants the interior cleaned, they also begin with a walkthrough.
“We usually start by pulling apart all of the cushions to look for ink spots. Someone may have dropped a pen, and it exploded,” explained Cumley. “Usually we find something unique in each airplane. We always find something under the rug.”
Immaculate Flight teams also sanitize the lavatory and galley, recondition leather seats, clean windows and carpets, polish mirrors and fixtures and detail the cockpit. For the exterior, they do anything from detailing the gear well to performing corrosion control. If you decide to detail your own plane, Cumley advised caution.
“Different techniques are better for different airplanes,” said Cumley. “I have to know a little about each make and model, because some chemicals can be used and others can’t. Also, de-icing systems require special attention. It’s possible to clog them with cleaning wax. If that happens, the system won’t function, and the pilots may not realize it until they’re up in the air.”
On older aircraft, instead of the heated wing de-icing device, a rubber boot runs along the front edge of the wing. It expands and contracts to break off the ice.
“Different types of boots need to be cared for in different ways,” said Cumley.
He said a poorly done job can have severe consequences. To insure quality, Cumley chooses employees that are interested in aviation. He said that sets his business apart from the competition.
“I find it easier to work with people who already know airplanes and love them,” he said. “I prefer people who are already involved in aviation—either they’re pilots or mechanics, or they’re studying to be. I approach local flight schools and aviation colleges and talk to their staffing people.”
Some employees are pilots who need part-time jobs to fill their hours.
“You have to find a very specific personality type to do the work, because a certain amount of trust must be established before you let your employees work on a $30 million airplane,” Cumley explained. “I’m putting my reputation on the line, and have assured our clients that they’ll receive the highest quality. I have to instill that same drive in my employees.”
Cumley himself appears to be that specific personality type. He’s been a pilot for three years, is passionate about airplanes and simply loves hanging out at the airport. Clean-shaven, with hair cropped short, he says his family has always teased him about his car always being spotless.
Cumley is close to his father. When the two aren’t busy working, they fly together for fun, in their single-engine Piper Dakota. He gained early work experience while helping with the family business, Traffic Control Services, Inc., a road construction company located in Colorado Springs. He began working there when he was only 14.
“I’ve held every possible position, all the way up to vice president,” said Cumley. “I also managed the accounting office for two years, which really taught me to problem-solve. I learned that very few things are actually a formula, when you’re dealing with customers. A lot of issues don’t have standard solutions, and you have to really get creative sometimes. It taught me to be patient and intuitive, and gave me all the accounting skills you’d need to run a business.”
He also gained valuable contacts with insurance companies, lawyers, accountants and tax representatives.
“It was a great introduction into the business world,” Cumley exclaimed.
Cumley also owns In the Buff Laundry. Located in Boulder, In the Buff washes mounds of clothes for dorm students at the University of Colorado.
Cumley became interested in the aircraft detailing business when he attended the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention last fall. He attended simply because he loves airplanes. At the convention, he met two gentlemen who had started Immaculate Flight.
“It actually all began because I was thirsty, and they were handing out free water,” joked Cumley. “It sounded like an incredible idea, so I started the Colorado division in April.”
Cumley said that so far, business is booming.
“It’s been very exciting,” he said. “This business was successful at an early stage, which is great. It allows me to sleep better at night.”
Things are going so well that Cumley plans to expand his operations into Vail and Aspen in mid-November.
“One of the things I love about this job is just being at the airport,” he exclaimed passionately. “It doesn’t matter if I’m lying on my back, underneath an airplane that’s dripping oil. I just love being there. I love the sound of the jets taking off. The possibilities that the airport has are endless. You can get on an airplane and go anywhere in the country, maybe even the world! To me, it almost represents freedom and opportunity.”
Immaculate Flight serves the Front Range and beyond. For 24-hour dispatch, call 888-858-5123. For more information, call 719-648-3078, or visit [http://www.immaculateflight.com].