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The following article was published in the Register-Pajaronian on August 15, 2002.

Prepared and submitted for print by the Watsonville Pilots Association

Accountant takes business to the air


Accountant Steve Imboden stands in front of his single-engine Piper Archer III at the Watsonville Airport.

Uses small plane to maintain Watsonville business after moving away

WATSONVILLE, CA --- Five years ago CPA Steve Imboden decided to move his family and business from Watsonville to Santa Rosa, even though he knew it would be tough to keep serving his clients here.

"I really wanted to be there for my Watsonville clients," said Imboden. "The relationship people have with their accountants is very personal. Some of my clients told me they'd rather switch doctors than accountants."

Once he made the move, it didn't take long for Imboden to realize that the long commute between cities was taking a toll on him.

"It's a three-hour drive each way and longer if you get caught in rush-hour traffic," he said. "I had to leave Santa Rosa at 5 a.m. to beat the traffic, and I had to leave Watsonville late to miss it going back. Not only was I fatigued, but I was losing hours of valuable time sitting in the car."

Fortunately for Imboden he had a pilot's license, which suggested an alternative. Two years ago he bought a single-engine Piper Archer III, which he now uses almost exclusively for business travel between Watsonville and Santa Rosa.

"Being able to fly has turned the trip from a grind to a pleasure," says Imboden. "It only takes an hour and I can come or go at any time without worrying about traffic. It's improved my productivity immensely. I'm even getting to know the voices of all the air-traffic controllers in the Bay Area."

Imboden flies to Watsonville as often as three times a week, and he said that the option of flying enables him to respond promptly if a client needs to have an emergency business meeting.

He also noted that Watsonville Municipal Airport is located just two miles from his local office and that because of its approach technology he can land there under most low-ceiling and visibility conditions.

"This has worked out really well for me," Imboden said. "and I feel glad that in my own small way I can continue to make a contribution to the local economy. I employ three people in Watsonville, buy supplies from local merchants, and take clients to lunch at local restaurants."

Richard Lippi, vice-president of the Watsonville Pilots Association, said that business use of general aviation facilities, such as Watsonville airport, is growing rapidly, and noted that after Sept. 11 business use of small-plane charter flights increased dramatically.

"Because of problems with commercial flights nationally and the traffic in the Bay Area locally, general aviation is the wave of the future," Lippi said. "You're going to see more business people chartering small planes and more companies buying them for business use. That's going to make the airport an even bigger asset in the future --- not only for Watsonville, but for the entire region."

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Watsonville Pilots Association, a Chapter of the California Pilots Association
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Mail to: P.O. Box 2074, Freedom, CA 95019-2074
Last modified: 08/20/2002
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