Chairman’s Note: Remembering Universal Founder Thomas Gregory Evans
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Today marks the 40th anniversary of my father and Universal founder, Tom Evans’, life being cut short in an aircraft accident on July 2, 1981.
Tom was featured on the cover of Pro Pilot magazine just months before he tragically perished in an aircraft accident.So much about our industry and world has changed in the last four decades. Universal is very different and has a much larger global reach than we did 40 years ago. But the principles and philosophy Tom founded the company on and his vision still guide us today.
Tom instilled the willingness to take risks on how the future might look, how he could shape it, and lead the industry. I was fortunate to watch and listen to him as he did it, making many strong and long-lasting friendships along the way.
My father’s goal was not to just start another service company. He wanted to create something the world had never seen before – the international trip support industry.
Before Universal was founded in 1959, frustrated corporate pilots had just one option for aviation weather – the National Weather Service’s pre-packaged forecast. The success of Universal’s customized weather briefings led to the expansion of services. This included the world’s first contract fuel program for business aviation as well as the first international network of experts standing by to support operators’ missions to the farthest reaches of the globe.
Today, Universal remains a family-owned company, now in its 63rd year of existence. We are proudly looking forward to the third generation of Evans leadership in the future. We still thrive on being visionary – constantly adapting, evolving, and anticipating tomorrow’s needs of business aviation operators today. We’re not afraid to take risks and connect dots others don’t see.
Tom’s love of aviation, which began during his time as an Air Force meteorologist in the 1950s, still permeates throughout Universal. Our global team members love aviation. We’re proud to employ many veterans who grew to love the industry while serving their country, just like my dad.
And like Tom, we still get a thrill from bringing things to life. Whether that’s a new customer, a new product, a new location, or in today’s world – new technology.
Tom’s passion was aviation, but his heart was with people. Nothing thrilled him more than helping a customer or employee succeed. As a result, he fostered the Universal family culture that we still embrace.
As the world begins to emerge again from more than a year and a half of grounded airplanes and isolation, it’s evident that business aviation is still about people and personal relationships. My father understood that, and we do too. So while most of the world scaled back during the pandemic, we expanded. A classic Tom move – veer left when most of the world veers right. That risk paid off and seeing your smiling faces as you’re greeted by our team worldwide validates it was the right decision.
My father was a consummate showman and knew how to celebrate success and accomplishments. What really got him excited, though, wasn’t looking back. Instead, he was always looking ahead to the next big thing.
We are too. Looking forward, we’re committed to building upon the innovative spirit and foundation Tom instilled in Universal while never losing touch with what makes us different. My dad loved his customers and loved finding ways to make their lives easier.
It was not unusual for Tom to personally greet customers. He believed personal relationships were key to success in business aviation.We’re still committed to creating solutions based on what we know our customers need today and anticipating what they’ll need tomorrow.
On this anniversary of his passing, my dad would have loved knowing that Universal is still making a difference and leading the business aviation industry. I am proud to continue to the legacy of his leadership.