On May 8, 2000 customers calling Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft were greeted with an old voicemail message stating that they had reached the office outside normal business hours. The message went on to advise customers of the days that Stoddard-Hamilton would be closed for the Christmas holiday. Having called Stoddard-Hamilton on this date I assumed that everyone was busy or the operator was on break, I laughed about the old Christmas message and went about my business. After several days of trying to get a hold of SHAI I realized that something was up. Several days later SHAI posted a message on their website making reference to both “an orderly termination of business” and “reorganization”. These statements and the eight updates that followed did very little to calm the fears of customers and actually caused confusion in many cases.
Now, nearly 6 weeks later I have heard dozens or rumors as to what might have led to this closure, I have heard hundreds of comments from customers and more than a handful of complaints and criticism but still no real information from Stoddard-Hamilton. On June 16th Bob Gavinsky posted the following message to the Stoddard-Hamilton website:
Dear Glasair, GlaStar and Aurora Enthusiasts!
Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft, Inc. is temporarily closed to complete its reorganization and inventory evaluation. We will soon be reopening and look forward to serving you again in the very near future. Thank you and have a great day!
Sincerely, Bob Gavinsky
Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft, Inc.
Could it be that SHAI will be reopened by the time you read this? Or will we all still be wondering about the future of our kits and backordered parts? Only time will tell I suppose.
As the newsletter editor and the webmaster of the GlasairNews website I have been bombarded with requests for information from customers waiting for backordered parts, kits, engines and other high value items they have paid for in advance. I have been frustrated with the lack of information from SHAI while at the same time I understand that Bob Gavinsky is being advised by lawyers not to comment on the situation.
So, is there any good news? Yes, the situation with Stoddard-Hamilton closing has brought the Glasair community together in a way that nobody could have predicted. The online forums on the GlasairNews website have always been a great builder support tool but in the wake of SHAI closing they have become the only form of support most that most builders have. There are many people involved in the forums that finished building their Glasairs years ago and are offering their years of experience to the folks that are still building. The owners of two professional builder support centers, Aircrafters LLC and Phoenix Composites have also offered their experience and advice to builders at no charge in the online forums. The recent events at Stoddard-Hamilton have also made it necessary for builders to find alternate sources for hardware and building supplies. While this is not so good for Stoddard-Hamilton, many builders have gained some comfort in the knowledge that they have some choices as to where to buy parts for their planes. In the past many builders just assumed that Stoddard-Hamilton was the sole source for many Glasair parts, this simply is not the case with many parts. The GlasairNews website now includes an online database that cross references Stoddard-Hamilton part numbers with vendor information. Now builders know that they do not need to pay Stoddard-Hamilton $123 for an aluminum eye-ball ventilator that is available at Aircraft Spruce for under $50.
I am looking forward to Stoddard-Hamilton reopening and I wish them continued success and prosperity. At the same time I think the Glasair builder community has learned a very valuable lesson: self-reliance. I think it’s important for us all to remember that we are building our own airplanes and there is no guarantee that Stoddard-Hamilton will always be there to hold our hands along the way, we must always accept the idea that someday we may be truly on our own. My personal advice: When Stoddard-Hamilton reopens get to work on getting all your backorders filled and then get all the options you want as soon as you can, that way you’ll be ready for whatever happens.
In closing I want thank all the GlasairNews.com website users that have stepped up and offered advice, information and in some cases actual labor (scanning and copying parts lists etc). Many people have written me to thank me for my efforts on the website, but without the participation of all the builders it would just be another website, you people are what have made it work.