For Mariana Oprea failure is not an option. After being laid off due to company restructuring, she founded Interavia Spares & Services (ISS) Inc. in 2003 building on what she knows best – selling aircraft parts.
Her company is a distributor and reseller of aviation parts and materials to an international market of airlines, repair stations and other brokers abroad, with 95 percent of her business in exports. As an international supplier, she communicates in six languages: English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese and Romanian.
“I organized it, and built it up based on my previous experience in sales and after models of companies I wanted to emulate,” Oprea said. “I had to create everything myself and sustain myself along these years.”
Oprea started her career in aviation parts working for British Aerospace in 1981 as a contract administrator for Project BAC-111 aircraft built in Romania until 1989. In the U.S., she has worked in the sales of aircraft parts since 1994.
ISS Inc is a marketer and seller of interior panels, components, avionics and consumable/expendable materials for daily requests generated by airlines or repair stations. The company also supplies engine components for Pratt & Whitney and CFM engine types, APUs, wheels and brakes, with all of the items made in the U.S. for Boeing-type aircrafts.
Oprea’s company sells turbo-prop types such as ATR, Dornier and Saab materials, from her inventory or from brokered parts from U.S. manufacturers or the secondary open market
“We offer asset management service, such as monitoring repairs for inventories belonging to foreign airlines,” she said. “We attend to urgent ‘Aircraft on Ground’ type situations with exchange parts service, where we export our inventory on hand or brokered inventory to the airline customer, receiving their used parts, monitoring the repairs and returning the parts to stock for further use. We co-sign customer’s inventories for direct sale to open market – publishing on international virtual market via the internet.”
According to Oprea, all materials are documented, traced and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certificates, or FAA Designated Airworthiness Representatives (DAR) inspectors. She operates the business with the help of one employee, a full-time contractor and two part-time contractors as needed.
ISS, Inc. has had annual revenues of $3 million until 2009, when it dropped to $1.3 million due in large part to the recession. “The company started off very well since 2003 and kept growing steadily until 2009. Since the recession started, the revenue has dropped and I am making enormous efforts to find new markets, and secure new customers in South America, Europe and the far East by participating in international fairs and conferences, visiting customers at their location and mailing brochures abroad about my company and the services we offer.”
Oprea credits MBDA in providing much-needed assistance as she works to meet her goals of expansion and recovery through building a select customer network with well-established airlines and repair stations and new markets. She also hopes to employ more people and redesign her on-hand inventory.
“My goal is to become a designated distributor for a large manufacturer with materials addressing the entire range of aircrafts, Boeing and Airbus, Embraer and others,” Oprea said. “MBDA proved to be very efficient, well-informed and quick in action to support my solicitation for help.”
“Sasha Patrick from the Miami MBDA Business Center visited my office twice in a matter of two weeks and introduced me to a financial broker and an Ex-Im Bank insurance broker in order to put up a loan to help the business develop on a larger scale.”
Oprea has also faced challenges in her industry as a woman business owner
“As a woman it is quite difficult at times to prove yourself and be successful in an industry dominated by males,” she said. “It requires courage and tenacity to accomplish every project. It requires endless resources of hope and trust in your own ability to succeed.”
Other challenges include selecting inventories that address “present market inquiries” and a client-base that is located throughout the world.
“Definitely the biggest challenge is working with a wide variety of people in so many countries, knowing them and keeping in contact with them on a permanent basis,” Oprea said. “I personally use six languages fluently on a daily basis calling European and South American airlines to solicit their business.”
“Technical and mechanical details are not always handy, hence it requires a lot of side work and research and information gathering to be able to give a well informed answer back to the airline that relies on your service.”
However, at the end of the day it is the love of the work that keeps her going.
“Success is trust in yourself and your own capacity, love for what you do, love for work well done, love for people and a desire to see happiness on their faces or hear thank you at the end of a job well done.”
“Fear God and nothing else. Never give in to challenges, never give up after occasional losses, learn always from mistakes and trust your own strength to overcome hardships.