Long lines, ever-changing rules, and patience-defying delays: the past couple of years have been a frustrating time for passengers moving through U.S. airports. But hubs around the country have used the downtime and lower passenger flow to upgrade the transit experience by improving lounges, food and beverage options, and play spaces. As a result, a Fort Worth based lounge management company is expanding its reach far beyond the DFW area. After surviving a pandemic and navigating the waters to stay afloat as travel increased, Gideon Toal Management Services is gaining national attention in the lounge management and concessions space expanding its footprint to more than a dozen locations in 10 airports throughout the U.S. over the past 7 years.
Late last year, GTMS won management contracts in two new locations gaining national attention in the lounge management and concessions space by expanding its footprint to two new facilities.
The newest GTMS partnership with American Express Escape Lounges, in Fort Lauderdale opened October 25 to record guests. The 5,000 square foot facility and has become an overnight success consistently exceeding daily expectations up to 900 guests per day at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The lounge includes showers with premium bath products and kids will be entertained with children’s activity packs complete with Escape Lounge’s Kids Crew puzzles. The lounge serves those flying American Airlines, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue.
In November, GTMS took on management for the American Express Centurion Studio Escape Lounge in Columbus, Ohio at the John Glenn International Airport (CMH), providing an airport reprieve for select cardmembers.
Navigating through the unique challenges of small business growth has required skilled and innovative leadership and tenacity. To better understand the driving force behind the GTMS trajectory, it seemed fitting to interview the company’s president – Dr. Alvin Brown to gain insights into the man behind this thriving Fort Worth based company.
Who most inspired you in life?
There is no doubt in my mind that my mother was my biggest inspiration, and she had a profound impact on the person I am today. For example, growing up I watched her brave the New York snow storms three days a week at 5 am in the morning to travel two hours by train and bus from Brooklyn to Bronx Community College where she was pursuing a nursing degree while holding down a full-time night shift at Wyckoff Hospital. Similarly, while pursuing my aviation degree at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, I worked for Sears and Air Florida. Some of the more significant lessons I learned from my mother, were dedication to what you want to do in life and to always keep your word. She would always say to me, “you must do what you say you’re going to do”.
When did you discover your career passion for the aviation industry?
I discovered my passion for the aviation industry I would say between the sixth and eighth grade. during the six grade I remember an experience with my guidance counselor when I told her that I wanted to be an airline pilot, she suggested that was a little bit too much for me and that I should probably look to go to a vocational school where I would probably be more successful.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of running GTMS?
The most challenging aspect of running GTMS is accessing business credit. Without equal access to business capital minority owned businesses continue to have difficulty growing and undoubtably that impacts a firm’s success in the aviation or any industry.
Which is worse failing or never trying? Are you more afraid of failure or success and why?
I believe that never trying is worse than actually failing. Not trying doesn’t give you the opportunity to see what you’re really made of – the fortitude to get back on the horse after you’ve been thrown off. The truth is you’re going to be thrown off at some point. It just goes with learning how to do something. Before I mastered riding a bike I fell. What you do after you fall is what’s really important.
That brings us to part two of the question – fear of failure or success. I don’t see the two concepts as binary. In the words of a Rudyard Kipling, I see triumph and disaster as “imposters.”
What are the three life lessons you’ve learned the hard way?
There are three life lessons that I’ve learned the hard way since I’ve been an adult. The first one is everything is a test. The second is nothing is what it appears to be, and last, nothing is absolute, always find common ground.
If you could plan your final words, what would they be?
I’ve completed my journey and have no more miles to go before I sleep.
GTMS operates airport lounges at 13 locations in 10 domestic U.S. airports including Dallas Fort Worth International, Orlando International, Las Vegas International and has earned eight prestigious aviation awards for exceptional customer service since 2014.