Strategic Partnerships Can Help Transform Industries

President & CEO



As change, disruption and technology take hold, companies are banding together with their supply chains to build a new future. These efforts are happening between industries and their trade associations, and they are building robust strategic partnerships. One of the more visible successes is between the Helicopter Industry and HAI (Helicopter Association International). This strategic partnership is helping a disrupted industry transform itself from the Helicopter Industry to the Vertical Aviation Industry. The broader definition incorporates all companies engaged in vertical take-off and landing aircraft that can operate without a runway.

Strategic partnerships are functional relationships that align in a precompetitive space. Over time these relationships help the Trade Association evolve and function as the Industry:

  • Function as a Strategic Business Unit of the Industry – More nimble and able to shift gears as necessary to support the Industry.
  • Neutral Integrators – Inclusive of all perspectives throughout the Industry.
  • Brainstorm Go-Forward Strategies – Have the capacity to help the Industry overcome challenges and position for growth.
  • Build Ecosystems – By building a much wider base of support to drive successful outcomes regardless of the party in power.

This is an impactful “rising tide that lifts all boats”  approach and its already working in other industries (Recreational Boating, Baking, Asphalt Pavement, Frozen Food, and many others).

Nicole Battjes

Through a similar collaboration between the Vertical Aviation Industry and HAI, an

Jim Viola

actionable roadmap and Strategic Industry Plan was developed. The fourteen month effort included Nicole Battjes, an Entrepreneur, Owner, Operator and Director of Operations at Rainbow Helicopters, Board Member and Committee Chair, and Jim Viola, president & CEO,HAI and his team. Together they constructed a forward leaning Strategic Industry Plan and Value Proposition to position the Industry for Growth.

Throughout this strategic process, the Industry embraced an “outside in” approach to keep a bright light shining on the future. An Industry Leadership Committee included Stacy Sheard, Corporate Helicopter Captain, Mark Schlaefli, Owner & Director of Operations, Dakota Motors, Miller Stallings, Account Executive, EBCO Aviation Insurance, and former Board Member Jack Matiasevich, Assistant Chief, Southern California Edison. The data driven process launched with intensive qualitative and quantitative research to understand the Industry’s “awake at night” challenges and desired future direction. Through the research, actionable insights and key themes emerged around:

  • Global, Federal, and local legislative and regulatory challenges
  • Shaping Public Perception
  • Collaboration & Engagement
  • Safety & Training
  • Innovation
  • Positioning For the Future
  • International Unity & Growth

The Committee and HAI Staff developed an Industry Value Proposition and Strategic Industry Plan draft and included additional insights from the Board Members and HAI Working Group Leaders. These insights helped shape a formidable and forward looking plan.

Presented by Nicole Battjes and unanimously approved at a Special Board of Directors meeting on October 27, 2022, the plan includes a robust Future Vertical Aviation Ecosystem to help build the strongest base of allies to shape and define the Industry’s future. It also includes a Roadmap and actionable Strategic Initiatives focused on positioning the Industry for growth:

  • Strategic Initiative 1 – Unify the industry around a new vision of vertical aviation and continually promote community compatibility.
  • Strategic Initiative 2 – Engage all stakeholders in the global value chain to help create a favorable environment that helps the entire industry thrive and prosper.
  • Strategic Initiative 3 – Elevate safety culture throughout the value chain.
  • Strategic Initiative 4 – Develop business resources that help companies elevate operational performance.
  • Strategic Initiative 5 – Develop a pathway that helps attract and maintain the best workforce in the world.

Nicole Battjes, Committee Chair, celebrated the approval of the groundbreaking Strategic Industry Plan stating “this was a strategic and research guided process and the committee and I were thrilled to play an important role. Stacy, Mark, Miller, Jack, and I are very proud and excited with a new vision that aligns our Trade Association with the future of vertical aviation.”

Reflecting on his decision to recommend a broad based industry strategy, Jim Viola noted that he “wanted a meaningful Strategic Planning Process to help us more closely align with the members and a rapidly changing landscape, and help the Trade Association build even stronger Strategic Partnership with Vertical Aviation.” He expressed his gratitude to his team of Mike Hertzendorf, Roxanne Smith, Cade Clark, Dan Sweet , Chris Hill, Chris Martino, and Greg Brown for their superior efforts throughout the planning process.

The Committee, the Board, and the HAI staff set out to represent the industry so everyone would benefit and prosper, and the final Strategic Industry Plan and Value Proposition acknowledges their success. Through this process, they helped determine the future of Vertical Aviation and they demonstrated that Strategic Partnerships between industries and their trade associations are game changers.

The Helicopter Industry will continue its transformative journey because its volunteer leaders and their Trade Association built a durable Strategic Partnership to envision the future of Vertical Aviation by Reimagining Industry Growth.

This is another example of why Executives must build Strategic Partnerships with their Trade Associations. These relationships bring critical mass, new forward looking and actionable insights, insights, and an ecosystem that helps Industries and companies far extend their reach in order to achieve success. As disruption and an uncertain economy increase their grip, Strategic Partnerships are a viable solution for all Industries, they have a track record, and they work.

Book Dan Varroney as a speaker for your meeting, conference or group and learn how to tap into the potential of strategic partnerships with industry associations from the author of the groundbreaking book, Reimagining Industry Growth.