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Founder Griff Malleck & Owner Cleo Spencer

Griff Malleck purchased Red Willow Aviation in 1980, and at the time, operated it as a maintenance repair shop and aerial application business with a 400 Brave and Cessna C-188. He knew he had to continue doing new things to stay competitive, so throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he tried many new ideas and eventually got into the bulk sales chemical business and formed Red Willow Chemical. In 2003, the company outgrew its location at the McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport and moved into its current, expanded location just off the airport.

 

Griff credits Vickie, his wife, for much of their success at Red Willow Chemical. Vickie worked full-time to provide for the family and make sure bills were paid during the early years when Griff was just starting as owner of the company. Griff says that even though she never actually worked at Red Willow Aviation, Vickie was integral to its success.

 

After an accident in 2019, Griff knew that with his ever-expanding business, he would need help managing aerial applications and chemical sales. Cleo Spencer, who had recently moved back to the area and had an extensive background in finance and banking, was just the person. Cleo had helped Griff through the years with accounting and a happenstance conversation led the two to become somewhat of partners, with Cleo acting as CEO.

 

Cleo purchased the business in 2021, and he went to work crunching numbers and looking toward the future. After he ironed out the business essentials, Cleo put together a solid plan that upgraded the current fleet of aircraft and incorporated a unique training program into the mix. 

 

Red Willow Aviation purchased an AT-504 out of Texas to fill the gap often created between a pilot transitioning into a larger turbine aircraft. Their unique program utilizes a minimum of five hours of flight time in the aircraft with an experienced Air Tractor pilot, covering all the basics of aircraft and spraying operations. 

Read More at:

AgAir Update Magazine August 2022

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