Patrick “Paddy” Gough: The Veteran USMC Colonel Soaring PKL Services to New Heights of Success

A leader’s success is often measured by the achievements of the business and the professional growth of the employees. Patrick “Paddy” Gough’s career trajectory at PKL Services can be similarly measured. PKL Services was established in 2003, and since its inception, the company has progressively expanded its Aviation Maintenance services to include training, logistics, and program management within the aerospace and defense industry. The company has experienced substantial growth since Paddy, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel, assumed leadership of PKL as the CEO/President.

Paddy’s leadership has further broadened the portfolio of services for military aviation clients (both foreign and domestic) and has helped forge new partnerships within the logistics management space. PKL has a strong foothold in Southeast Asia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Most recently PKL has entered into Agent Agreements in eleven Latin American countries, with more foreign support in countries that are pending agreement approval.

Throughout this article, Paddy walks us through his influential journey while also helping us understand the current landscape of the industry and how his team tackled the COVID-19 crisis.

The Journey from Colonel to CEO

Paddy has extensive leadership experience with 30 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was the Operations Officer for both Third Marine Aircraft Wing and First Marine Expeditionary Force. He served as the Commanding Officer of a squadron as well as Marine Aircraft Group 39 and as the Deputy Commander of Marine Corps Installations West. Throughout his career, Paddy has been a Naval Aviator in the AH-1J and AH-1T (TOW) Cobra as well as the AH-1W Super Cobra and the AH-1Z Viper aircraft accumulating 4000 flight hours in peace and combat operations. His immense prowess has earned him numerous military awards and decorations for operational excellence, individual accomplishment, and the achievement of safety milestones. After retiring from Marine Corps as a Colonel, Paddy pivoted to the corporate world and gained six years of corporate experience as the Executive Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development for Orange County Transportation Authority. He joined PKL in 2014 as the Vice President of Human Resources, shortly thereafter he was promoted to COO and then, in the beginning of 2020, he accepted the role of CEO.

Today, Paddy is actively involved with both the military and corporate communities. He is an active Board member or participant in multiple organizations. Paddy serves as a Member of the Advisory Board of Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund/America’s Fund, UBIQ Security, Drone Aviator, Marine Corps Aviation Association, California State University Fullerton Veterans Resource Center, and the Co-founder and Advisory Board Member of the California State University Fullerton Veterans Resource Center. In addition, he is part of the Client Advisory Board, Rayburn Wetsel Merrill Lynch. Paddy is an active member of the Small Business Association Leadership Council and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, DVM Committee. Furthermore, he is on the Board of Directors for the Flying Leatherneck Museum & Foundation. And is the Executive Officer at MCAA Mike Yunck Squadron.

“I came to PKL Services, Inc. in August 2014, initially serving as the Vice President of Human Resources. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) and was then promoted to CEO in 2020,” asserts Paddy.

Committed to Excellence

Prior to Paddy’s role as CEO, Mr. Samuel Flores, Jr., PKL’s founder, laid the foundation of service for PKL Services. Sam is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel with extensive experience in Logistics and Supply Chain Management as well as executive experience as a Vice President at CACI International. Over the years, PKL has established itself as an elite provider of skilled personnel, delivering Aerospace Maintenance, Training, and Logistics Services, committed to continual improvement, exceeding customer expectations, and implementing quality standards within dynamic environments. “With PKL you can depend on a company that balances agile, effective performance with an unyielding commitment to our core values,” says Paddy.

PKL aims for continual improvement to meet the demands and requirements of their customers. PKL employs experienced and qualified personnel who strive to excel and exceed customer expectations. Under Paddy’s leadership, the team is successfully sustaining the solid foundation of the internationally recognized and cohesive organization.

The Vital Asset

PKL Services has a highly experienced core of Corporate employees, which on average have 7 years of service at PKL. This culmination of knowledge allows them to understand each contract with the associated nuances, while supporting a stable workforce. The company maintains a lean and agile management structure, which alleviates the challenges of multiple approval layers and long decision-making processes.

PKL’s offerings are backed by industry-leading knowledge and the expertise of the largely military veteran workforce to ensure only the best is delivered—across multiple echelons for its military clients. Paddy adds, “Whether Organizational, Intermediate, or Depot-Level Maintenance, developing and implementing innovative training curricula, or administering to the logistical demands of the customer, PKL’s track record of performance excellence in every facet of support and sustainment enables PKL to solve clients’ needs with ease.”

PKL has a 90% veteran workforce and a low industry annual turnover rate in the 10% range which is a great achievement in today’s constantly evolving opportunities in the business world. “Unquestionably, I attribute PKL’s success to our workforce – the dedicated team of employees,” said Paddy.

Foresight Averts Crisis

Paddy took over the role of CEO a month before the COVID shutdown and had to manage the team amidst this unprecedented crisis. However, even before becoming CEO, he was a vocal advocate for the investment in technology and acquisition of the right tools that would prepare PKL to face any circumstances. Fortunately, when the business was forced to shut down the headquarters for COVID safety, this foresight ensured that PKL operated without any interruption of daily operations.

Both 2020 and 2021 have been a true challenge for employers. Paddy ensured that PKL employees were equipped with the necessary tools required to flourish in their jobs and work efficiently from multiple remote locations. Consequently, PKL progressed without any obstacles, expanded the business, and continually provided superior performance to its customers.

Essential Workforce and their Safety

Along with military practices and partner protocols, Paddy was also responsible for overseeing the health and safety plans of the hundreds of employees in work locations around the world. He ensured that the team working at military locations were able to continue to report to work safely and maintain performance and presence on each contract, as directed by the customers.

The team of PKL employees in the field was considered an essential workforce and was required to support the customers’ contractual requirements throughout the pandemic. PKL believes in the ‘Employee First’ approach, which has proven to be essential, especially during the COVID-19 era. To battle with the hardships of the tumultuous year, PKL employees were given allowances, concessions, and leaves were granted as needed for them to care for their families and themselves. Moreover, the company did everything possible, going above and beyond CDC, Federal, State, and local requirements, to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of the employees and their families remained the top priority.

Amid the chaos, communication amongst the employees was paramount. Paddy made it a clear directive to keep communication at the front of the company’s mission. Employees were consistently provided with updates and resources while assuring them of the precautions put in place. He also conveyed the current information to help the employees make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Sharing one such instance, as several myths were surrounding the safety of the vaccine, Paddy openly documented the process and his experience with the COVID vaccine and shared it with all PKL employees. “I did so to help alleviate some hesitation of employees to receive the vaccine and also to show transparency as a leader,” adds Paddy.

Unusual Year and the Aftermath

Amidst the pandemic, Paddy has ensured the wellbeing of the employees while also strategically lifting the company to new heights of success. PKL is focused on expanding its primary services abroad. Despite the shutdowns and adverse economic impact, PKL has won more new contracts in 2020 than in all previous years. The team has also performed exceptionally well resulting in progress and growth on existing contracts, which has increased revenue and profitability in 2020 and 2021.

“While 2020/2021 was unusual, to say the least, as CEO/President, I have ensured that PKL forged ahead, without wavering in its customer performance, and recognized growth as well as alignment into new strategic ventures,” said Paddy. PKL has recently established two new Joint Ventures and mentor/protégé agreements to support small businesses in their growth and expansion. 2020 was a promising year for PKL and under the leadership of Paddy and his strategic foresight, the growth trajectory will keep progressing for the coming years.

Quote: “PKL is, and will remain, a leading global aerospace services company providing our customers’ innovative maintenance, training, and logistics solutions.”

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