A Few “Promotions”

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Over the holidays, IFExpress heard about the promotion of Lou Sharkey to President of Lumexis Corporation and the news release noted: “Lumexis Corporation today announced the promotion of the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Lou Sharkey, to the additional role of President, continuing to report to Doug Cline, Chief Executive Officer. Chairman of the Lumexis Board of Directors, Ed Shapiro, explained that, “Lou has more than twenty years of operations and engineering management experience, including a key managerial role with Doug at Sony Trans Com. He has maintained that close collaboration with Doug at Lumexis and has been a central figure in the growth and success of the company.” While this statement covers it pretty well, we wanted to hear from Lou so we called him and his first comment was really typical of him: “I want to make it clear that this interview, while about my promotion, is really an affirmation of our (the whole Lumexis team’s) focus on our products and our customers. I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to continue to relay the message that Lumexis’ remains dedicated to bringing the best, World-class products to the aviation industry.” Obviously, their other goal is to continue to grow the business. In fact, their first 44 installations of the fiber optic IFE system for flydubai are on-going and IFExpress went to ATS in Everett, WA to see the 3 day process for ourselves. Boeing delivers the aircraft after the first check flight and the B737’s are pulled into a hangar where the Lumexis installation turns around an empty aircraft to a passenger friendly solution for the airline… ready for service.

With regard to “line-fit” approval at Boeing and Airbus, we should note that Mr. Sharkey told us that Lumexis is working closely with Boeing under a Technical Services Agreement to be offerable on the B737 with first delivery target around the middle of next year. From what we can tell, they are on track to do so. “Additionally,” he noted, “we are similarly pursuing Airbus for line fit on its single- and twin-aisle models because our customers have asked for delivery of their new planes with Lumexis systems installed by the factory and we really dislike having to say ‘not yet!’ ”

A little background might be in order here. First off, Lumexis is the “Little Engine That Could”! Aside from the literary reference, Lumexis has a secret sauce – a small cadre of highly experienced dedicated individuals (around 50), plus partnerships and relationships with developers and vendors who are considered part of the team from kickoff to delivery. And, yes, it works. By controlling costs, building teamwork, outsourcing almost everything, they avoid the “overhead blues” of other suppliers. IFExpress asked about how these relationships are set up and Lou told us, “We have a handful of first tier partners and less that 10 in the second tier – a manageable group, for sure, but this way we can offload hardware manufacturing and testing so that we can focus on software development and system integration internally. Also we have integration partners that we manage during airplane installations. The key here is to get it right the first time and do a first class job of design, documentation and communication. In one sense, our partners are quite a bit like us but they are in a different building and have a different corporate name. The key is good teamwork and our people excel at it. We are not in the business of building infrastructure, just great products! From a personal perspective,” noted Mr. Sharkey, “I am a ‘business guy’, thru and thru, having previously worked in the industry for Sony and Rockwell Collins for some 15 years and spent quite a bit of time in other diverse organizations and industries. I would have to say that I have had the most experience – and certainly the most fun – in IFE. The business model that Doug Cline set up is a new industry paradigm and I have been fortunate to work for him for nearly fifteen years.”

The horizon looks bright for the only Fiber-To-The-Screen ® system out there and Lumexis can claim deals with flydubai, Transaero, and Turkish. Further, we understand on the rumor hotline that there is one highly significant, unannounced customer in the wings but we don’t have a name yet. Fiber optic connectivity to the seat is here to stay.

Lastly, we have in two releases in from OnAir – “Saudia’s free inflight Wi-Fi promotion” and “FCC launches public consultation into rule change on inflight cell phone usage” – click on the links for the story.

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