Born in Jacksonville, FL, but raised in Puerto Rico, Raymond E. Rios, Owner and Founder of RP Consulting Group LLC, has a history of overachieving and working hard. He started college at the age of 17 and studied Computer Science before deciding to pursue a different track. In 2000, Rios enlisted in the United States Navy, following in the footsteps of his father and brother. After serving his country for over 10 years, Rios settled in San Diego, CA, where he worked as an Aircraft Electrician. After three years, he decided to go back to school for his Master's of Business Administration in Aviation through Embry-Riddle's Worldwide Campus. Rios' impressive experience and education set the stage for his eventually journey into the world of entrepreneurship.
"Towards the end of my MBA program, we moved to Orlando to be closer to our family in Puerto Rico," Rios said. "Half way through the program, I accepted a position as a Technical Support Representative for an avionics company based in Melbourne, FL. In that role, I traveled all over Latin America and provided training to pilots and technicians on the company's avionics systems. We were one of the few companies that provided training in Spanish. I met a lot of people in the business and, in addition to being in sales; I was also the 'tech support' guy that knew the systems. I learned how to integrate the systems with different airplanes."
After about two and a half years, Rios took a position as the Maintenance Site Manager for an airplane simulation company. In addition to managing day-to-day operations for the maintenance department, Rios manages a team of 15 technicians and engineers. In the months leading up to May 2017, the month in which RP Consulting Group was founded, Rios identified an opportunity to provide a certain demographic with essential training.
"No one was providing technical training to Latin American companies in Spanish," he said. "The technical side can be really hard to explain if you don't know the language. Utilizing previous connections, I landed a contract with Colombia’s Aeronautica Civil, Colombia's version of the Federal Aviation Administration. Through this contract, I taught a 40 hour course in avionics and general aviation regulation."
While still maintaining full-time employment, Rios is building his business on the side. He uses his vacation time to fly to Colombia for consulting, conferences and various industry events. He's building new relationships and strengthening existing ones. As Rios shared, Colombia is very particular how and with whom it does business.
"Colombia is very particular with who they hire," he said. "Their processes are also a lot of work, but once you have their trust, you're in. This year, we won a contract with the Colombian Air Force doing consulting on certification processes. Several engineers and I translated documents from the Federal Aviation Administration into Spanish and provided consulting. There was a need for our services because the United States doesn't have a bilateral agreement with Colombia. It's up to private businesses to provide this type of service. That's where we come in."
RP Consulting Group has over 30 years of combined experience in business management, aviation and human resources experience. They provide professional consulting and training services to private and government organizations in the areas of: Government Regulations, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), US Occupational Safety & Health, Administration (OSHA), management of simulators, logistics management, development of learning strategies with training materials and curriculum training, development of training modules in two languages, training in person and practice in aviation systems, avionics, hydraulics, power plants and major modifications, human resources solutions, compliance, talent management, executive search and staffing.
Rios, who enjoys that he gets to use his experience and education to help other organizations grow, shared his goals for the future of the business.
"Eventually I'll grow the business to the point where it makes sense to leave my full-time job," he said. "This will happen once I get some more stable contracts in place. We're currently in negotiations with Orange County Public Schools to teach students about aviation programs and provide them with training. If we land that contract, I'll need to hire five instructors. I really want to help bring our younger generations into aviation. It's very rewarding to help them get an education and to watch them grow and become professionals in aviation."
What advice does Rios have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Never quit, even if many doors close on you," he said. "Always be patient but persistent! Also, listen to experience. If you have operations in another country, hire someone in that country who knows the system. Lastly, find a niche and stick with it. Try not to jump into multiple opportunities. It's better to provide one exceptional service than several mediocre services."