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|History of ASU|
How We Took Off..
What started as a one-man operation based out of a small apartment in San Francisco, has grown into more than one could imagine. Founder and owner, Jeffrey Haynes, started ASU (Airline Services Unlimited) in 1968 after finishing college. His story is inspiring and shows us what a true entrepreneur is capable of accomplishing. Haynes’s career began at the age of seven, when he started a neighborhood Kool Aid stand, with a staff of six young friends on three different blocks, working under him. Who knew that his youthful entrepreneurial spirit would lead to numerous successful companies including, of course, the ASU Travel Guide.
Back in 1968 the major airlines in San Francisco were greatly increasing the number of Stewardesses (the term used in those days.) The problem was that the new "stews” had trouble finding a place to live in the three days the airline gave them before their first flight. Haynes’s sister, who was a Stewardess for Pan Am, asked him to help a few new Stewardesses find a place to live. With a little research Haynes realized the airlines were sending over 1,000 new Stewardesses to SFO in the following six months. So Haynes earned a real estate license, located available apartments and with approval from the airlines, introduced the new ASU apartment locating service. Later he added a roommate service and opened up the service to all Stewardesses based in SFO.
Next he founded Charter Flight, which helped flight attendants find part-time jobs on their days off. Large corporations would hire the women for trade shows, promotions and conventions, and allowed the flight attendants to still earn money on their days off. This service was extremely helpful to many of the Stewardesses who wanted to make extra money on their time off from flying.
Hostess Hosiery Support Hose Helps ASU Soar
Haynes then founded Hostess Hosiery, which was a private label of the popular Hanes Alive support hosiery. This revolutionary new style of hosiery was most preferred by Stewardesses as it helped ease the pain of being on their feet all day and at the same time looked good. ASU was able to offer the Stewardesses this popular brand of hosiery under ASU’s brand of Hostess Hosiery, at a 40% discount! Within two years 70% of all Stewardesses in the US were buying their hosiery from ASU. During this time Haynes was also sending discount coupons to the San Francisco based Stewardesses, introducing them to various bars, boutiques, restaurants and other retail companies. He also offered them "two-for-one dinners” and other popular first visit discounts. In turn, Haynes would collect a fee from the participating businesses for this service.
ASU then began selling its popular Hostess Hosiery in bulk to Eastern Airlines under contract for their Stewardess boutiques in seven airports that focused on the grooming needs of Stewardesses. This contract with Eastern Airlines exposed Haynes to the concept of retail stores for Stewardesses and he decided to launch his own stores in San Francisco. He hired an Eastern store manager, set aside a floor in his San Francisco Victorian house office by the Cannery, and presto, ASU retail was formed. Haynes later opened a second store near the airport in San Mateo, CA next to the airline uniform fit center for Stewardesses and Pilots.
Creating the Travel Guide The ASU Travel Guide is Born
In late 1971 Haynes was introduced to Ron Folkenflik. Folkenflik had started the Interline Tour Guide, which was a small 30 page publication that listed airline employee discount travel information. ASU acquired the small company and Folkenflik became one of three partners in ASU. This publication was soon renamed the ASU Travel Guide and over time grew to over 300 pages. Under Haynes’s and Folkenflik’s leadership the Guide soon became the largest and most useful airline employee travel publication in the world. Together Haynes and Folkenflik and the rest of the ASU team expanded the guide to cover all areas pertaining to travel in the airline industry. The airline community now had one place to go to learn about all the discounts offered to them. In 1982, Haynes spun off the ASU Travel Guide to Folkenflik as ASU was preparing for a major expansion in the retail area. In March of 2007 Haynes returned to the post of President & CEO of the ASU Travel Guide, with Folkenflik assuming the role of Executive Vice President and ASU is being re-launched in exciting new directions.
While expanding the Travel Guide, ASU also began expanding its retail operations in airports by taking over the Eastern Airlines stores in four airports- Miami, Atlanta, JFK and LGA in New York. Later, stores opened in the Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Dallas and San Francisco airports. At its peak, ASU had fifteen stores exclusively serving the needs of airline employees. ASU offered travel merchandise geared towards crewmembers from all airlines, as well as uniform-approved luggage, regular clothing cosmetics, airline logo items, uniform approved shoes and handbags. At one time ASU had 10,000 different items in each store. ASU’s uniform approved items could be purchased by crewmembers using payroll deduction and at its peak ASU sold over 100,000 pairs of flight attendant shoes, annually. In addition ASU was under contract with Eastern, Delta, American, Southwest, Northwest and others to produce pilot uniforms and handle entire new hire pilot uniform programs as well as on-line pilots. ASU also distributed flight attendant uniform accessories and handled grooming instruction programs for Southwest, Delta, Eastern and others. ASU even opened a skin care salon in the Atlanta airport focused primarily on Delta and Eastern Airlines flight attendants.
Newer Innovations Rolling Luggage Spawns a Revolution
Next was the introduction of rolling luggage. A Northwest Captain was tinkering with a rolling luggage concept for crewmembers and approached ASU about marketing his product. ASU helped him make some key changes and Travelpro Luggage was born. ASU marketed the luggage to crewmembers and over 100,000 crewmembers purchased this new, convenient luggage. Of course, the public saw the luggage and wanted it. ASU began running full page ads in all of the major airlines’ in-flight magazines advertising Travelpro Luggage. They then opened 21 retail stores in various airports around the US, "ASU’s Bags On Wheels”, and began selling this innovative luggage to the public. The rest, as they say, is history.
Haynes once stated, "Our basic business principle is to serve our customer’s needs first. This, by the way, seems to be in direct opposition to today’s usual business practice which instills, through the medium of advertising, an artificial need in the consumer for a product he does not essentially need or desire. Our philosophy is: recognition of customer needs, presentation of only quality goods and services at a discount, with the emphasis on service, hence the name Airline SERVICES Unlimited.”
Through the years ASU has touched many areas of the airline industry. In the past the growth of ASU was limited by physical restraints, but with the invention of the internet all of that has changed. Now the possibilities are endless and Haynes and his team are free to expand throughout the world without the logistical restrictions he once dealt with. In 2004, ASU Travel Guide Online was born and in 2006 the site was improved and now is being totally rebuilt in 2007. The site has now has been renamed, ASU.COM. and is growing rapidly in membership and the ASU Team is planning major improvements with many exciting additions in the coming months. The internet allows ASU a very flexible stage to offer a literal un-limited array of goods and services.
ASU will continue providing high quality, affordable services and products specific to the airline industry. Haynes’s 30+ years of experience in the airline industry ensures the continuous growth of ASU. Having developed the ASU concept, he has extensive knowledge and a clear vision of what the airline industry needs. ASU.COM and the ASU Travel Guide, under the direction of Jeffrey Haynes and with the help of the ASU Team, will only continue to revolutionize the availability of benefits and cost savings to airline employees worldwide!