It's pretty lucky when someone can turn a hobby they love into a thriving business. And Mike Man-clark couldn't agree more. Manclark, who can tell you exactly what type of airplane is flying overhead without even looking, built Leading Edge Aviation Services Inc. into an aircraft maintenance company that made $26 million in sales last year out of his simple love of airplanes.
After studying to be an airline pilot for two years, Manclark added business school to his agenda in case his real goal didn't pan out. But while he fueled and moved jets at Orange County, California's John Wayne Airport to earn a living, he realized he could go into business before graduation. Car detailing was at its peak, so Manclark, then 19, thought, 'Why not detail corporate jets?' In 1984, he quit everything, borrowed $3,000 from his dad and started Leading Edge, providing maintenance, interior recon-figu-rations, corrosion inspection, work on fuel cells and full repainting for aircrafts.
Manclark, who sometimes spends Saturdays at his Santa Ana, California, office for pure enjoyment, hopes to grow Leading Edge's worth to $100 million within the next four years by reinvesting into the company. "I don't do this for the money," he says. "I do it for the love of airplanes."