The airborne executive

A love of flying keeps Cape Air CEO Dan Wolf in the pilot's seat of his regional airline.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
Interview by Alyssa Abkowitz, reporter

dan_wolf.03.jpg
Dan Wolf, CEO of Cape Air
Flight pattern
Cape Air at a glance.
Founded: 1989
Revenue: $75 million
Perk: Free baggage check
Routes: Serves 17 cities in the Northeast (including Cape Cod and Nantucket), seven in the Caribbean, and three in Micronesia

(Fortune Magazine) -- I was one of those kids always intrigued by the whole idea of flying. I used to hang out at the airports whenever I could. In the summers between years at Wesleyan, I learned to fly around Cape Cod. The more I did it, the more I loved it. I took my last semester of college off to become an instructor and commercial pilot.

Be willing to pay your dues.

I finished college in 1980 and then took a couple of months and flew to Alaska and back with just a sleeping bag, a tent, and some camping equipment. I flew from Massachusetts out to L.A. and then up the coast in an airplane that's made out of fabric.

It burned about four gallons of gas an hour -- good mileage by today's auto standards. I spent about three months flying around North America in that little fabric plane. Then I ended up back on the Cape. I determined that it might be a good idea if I had some mechanical training, so I spent two years studying and became a licensed aircraft mechanic.

Be ready to act when an opportunity arises.

Cape Air didn't start out as an airline. It started in 1988 as a flight school, maintenance shop, and fueling operation. The company did charters as well. While we were doing all that, the Provincetown-Boston route became available. Continental Connection was flying it and indicated it was pulling out. We were steeped in aviation with a hankering to get into it, and that became our first route.

Stay close to your consumer.

There are airline CEOs who make a point to be active on the front lines -- handing out nuts and meeting passengers in the airplane -- but I really love the idea of still being able to fly. I make it a point to fly Saturdays in the summer because I know we're busy. I'll see how the operation is working, and since I'm flying on the weekend, I'm not taking time away from my desk job.

Secrets of my success

Put the right team in place

The idea that entrepreneurs are self-made is a myth. Behind any great entrepreneur there's a whole team of people. That's why when I hire I focus on people whose egos are last and whose desire to work collaboratively are first.

Have humor and humility

The two most important things in business are humor and humility. You've got to have a sense of humor to be able to react to things and to keep things in perspective. In this business you can't take yourself too seriously because if you do, you're going to get eaten up. To top of page

Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 30.03 0.00 0.00%
General Electric Co 9.35 0.23 2.52%
Pfizer Inc 39.38 -0.50 -1.25%
Qualcomm Inc 79.89 0.81 1.02%
Advanced Micro Devic... 27.68 0.19 0.69%
Data as of Apr 18
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 26,559.54 110.00 0.42%
Nasdaq 7,998.06 1.98 0.02%
S&P 500 2,905.03 4.58 0.16%
Treasuries 2.56 -0.03 -1.23%
Data as of 9:09am ET
More Galleries
10 of the most luxurious airline amenity kits When it comes to in-flight pampering, the amenity kits offered by these 10 airlines are the ultimate in luxury More
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More
Sponsors
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.