asked how much. Daryl said $75. The doctor said— ‘You fix the door and I’ll
deliver your baby!’ Nancy was born
on April 29th, and her delivery fee
was waived in exchange for the hangar door repair.”
That same doctor was on hand when
Bill arrived a few years later, by happenstance when most of western New
York was buried in a snowstorm.
“Daryl and I were staying in town with
his parents because Daryl had insisted
that we could not stay at our house five
miles out of town in the country. At 2:00
a.m. I told him we needed to go to the hos-
pital and we did, in the company pick-up
truck, through snowdrifts and unplowed
streets. Bill was delivered at 6: 20 a.m. Then
around mid-morning Daryl showed up with
the payroll ledger and the checkbook and I
did that day’s payroll for Penn Yan Aero in
my hospital bed,” she recalls.
Although one of the benefits of a family-owned business is that it can provide jobs for the children,
the Middlebrooks insist that the kids pull their own weight.
Working in the family business is an option, they say, but one
full of opportunity. As they grew up and went to school, their
jobs and responsibilities at the business changed.
“My first job was sandblasting cylinders and glass beading rocker arms,” says Nancy. “I am not sure how old I was at
the time. They had to build me a stool to be able to see the
machines. I earned a nickel for every one I did right.”
Bill remembers mowing lawns and learning the business from the floor up. He
worked as vice president for several years
before buying the business from his father
“Today we have more than 40 employees
and build 400 aircraft engines per year,” says
Bill, now the president of the company.
“Nancy, too, worked at Penn Yan Aero as a teenager and came
back to Penn Yan after college,” Patricia recalls. “She worked for
several years at Penn Yan Aero in Penn Yan and also at the office in Orlando, Florida.”
“The location in Orlando was known as Penn Yan Aeroparts, a wholesale parts distribution company specializing in
piston aircraft parts. We sold everything from landing lights
to tires, CHT probes to spark plugs,” explains Nancy, who became branch manager of the facility in 1995.
When September 11 happened and crippled the aviation industry the family made a tough decision and closed the Orlando operation.
“On April 29, 2003, my 36th birthday, and my 22nd (
official) anniversary with the company, we closed the doors on
the Florida operation, and I lost my job,” says Nancy. “I gave
a lot of thought to another career, but the fact of the matter is,
1939 E- 2 Cub which was
taken by Eagle as payment on a bad debt in
the 40’s. The aircraft has been handed down to the
fourth generation of Middlebrooks.
I don’t know anything else. I know aviation. So I decided to
start my own company.”
Nancy utilized her contacts gathered through Penn Yan
Aeroparts and started a distributorship company that handled
many of the product lines that she was familiar with. The result was Aeroparts Aviation Supply, Inc.
“AAS is a wholesale distribution company that specializes
in pilot supplies, pilot training materials, and aviation gift
ware. Along those lines, in 2005 I started what I call our “sig-
The best part of working in a family business
is that 99 percent of the time, we are all
working towards the same goal, and we know
we can rely on each other no matter what.
nature” product line, Girls Fly Too!, a line of apparel and accessories for girls of all ages. We have everything from infant
clothing to pink logbooks. We are actively searching for new
dealers. You can visit us online at www.girlsflytoo.com.”
Most people bring their job home at night to some degree. You can’t help but do that in a family business, say
“You can’t keep family life and a family business separate,”
says Patricia. “We would occasionally take trips that did not
involve aviation and get completely away from work.”
“It’s impossible,” Bill agrees. “I have a family at home, my
wife Melissa, my son Reece Patrick, Apollo and Piper our German Shepherds. But I also have a family at work. A high percentage of our employees have been working here since they
were recruited out of high schools and colleges. Many are
older than I and have been here for 20 or 30 years. You spend