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Profile: 'Mr. Silo'Profile: 'Mr. Silo'

Answering his customers’ needs with wings

Dennis Blauser is known to his customers around the country as “Mr. Silo.” The CEO of Marietta Silos, Blauser Energy Corp., and USA Silo Service, Blauser says his ability to react quickly to a customer problem—by hopping into his Piper Meridian and getting to the location within a day—is the hallmark of his successful business. “When my customers call with a problem, it’s usually an expensive problem,” he says. “My customers are impressed and relaxed when they know Mr. Silo is flying in just to solve their problems. As we say, ‘Silo service with wings.’”
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Marietta Silos is no longer the company you probably associate with farming; the company morphed into heavy industry in a “big way” after Blauser’s father bought the company in the 1970s and then transferred ownership to his son in the 1980s. “The Marietta Silo was the Cadillac of silos from 1916 until the 1950s. While those silos were 20 to 60 feet in diameter, our industrial silos are 40 to 150 feet in diameter; they hold cement, sand, limestone. It’s a highly specialized product,” he says. The company operates in the eastern United States, but Blauser’s purchase of a Cessna Citation CJ1 from Lane Aviation may change that—as will his sons, who at ages 22 and 26 are preparing to come into the business with pilot certificates in hand.

How did you get started in aviation?

My father flew in the Pacific theater in World War II and he always loved flying. When I was in high school, he bought one of the old training airplanes from the local airport. It was a well-used Piper Cherokee 140. I took a few lessons in his airplane. When I went off to college at Wright State University in Ohio, I was in the birthplace of aviation. I signed up for lessons at the local airport, now known as Dayton-Wright Brothers. After three years of training and working the flight line, I had earned my private, commercial, CFI, MEI, and an instrument rating. My final year of college I was a flight instructor for Aviation Sales Inc. on the field.

“If a service provider can travel to a customer’s location and provide what is requested, it makes them the leader in solving the customer’s needs....Having the ability to travel point to point efficiently is paramount in success.”When I finished school I was busy working and traveling on the road in our family business and did not have the time to fly. After a 15-year break I started flying again, after transitioning to management of our family business. Since then I have been flying the country for business and pleasure. I have accumulated 3,000 hours of pure enjoyment in the air.

What early challenges did you have?

Flying was never the challenge in my early days. Today, I always strive to separate my professional work responsibilities with the demands of being pilot in command. When I’m preparing to fly, I keep my mind on the task of arriving safely with my airplane and passengers to my destination. Only after that safe arrival do I transition into work mode.

How does the airplane benefit your business?

Together, our firms Marietta Silos and USA Silo Service are the nation’s leading material storage silo construction, inspection, repair, cleaning, and maintenance providers. As the only companies in the United States that can handle all of a customer’s needs, we are their ultimate storage silo problem solvers. Storage silos are very specialized structures that are usually critical to our customers’ facilities. There are only a handful of competent experts in the country.

Having our own airplane means we can react to a customer’s needs very quickly. Our customers are located everywhere in the United States. We commonly visit manufacturing plants, power generation stations, mines, storage facilities, or shipping terminals. Many times, these facilities are remotely located, far from a commercial airport. Our customers call us when there is a problem that is negatively affecting their operations or, worse, a critical safety situation. I routinely use my airplane to get to my customers within hours or the next day—no matter where they are and without the time or location constraints of commercial air travel. That kind of service to a customer in their time of need allows us a distinct competitive advantage that has helped to build our firm’s growth to the pinnacle of the storage silo industry. No other firm in the country can solve as many silo issues as fast as we can.

What do you think general aviation’s future looks like?

People in the United States are now used to instant gratification, no matter what they may need. If you need information, you go to the internet and you have instant information. That need is now more so in business-to-business sales and service. If a service provider can travel to a customer’s location and provide what is requested, it makes them the leader in solving the customer’s needs. General aviation easily solves that problem for the companies and individuals that use it to their advantage. Having the ability to travel point to point efficiently is paramount in success.

How would you encourage young people to get involved in aviation?

I would suggest finding a local mentor pilot. Like most pilots, I am always happy to talk positively about the freedom, benefit, and advantages of flying. Talking and engaging with your local airport and pilots is an easy way to find out and take advantage of what your area has to offer in aviation. There are lots of opportunities for young people to get involved in aviation, and communication with people involved is the easiest way to find those opportunities.

What kind of aircraft do you fly/have you flown?

I have had the pleasure of flying several aircraft. I have owned a Piper Turbo Arrow, Piper Seneca, Beechcraft pressurized Baron, and I currently fly a Piper Meridian. I have a Cessna 172XP for my children to learn to fly in as they follow me in the silo business. We are now wrapping up the purchase of our first jet aircraft. The process of transitioning to a jet has been exciting. An upgraded and tricked-out Cessna Citation CJ1 will soon be in the hangar.

What’s the best trip you’ve ever flown?

My favorite typical trip is flying between our homes in Marietta, Ohio, and Palm Beach, Florida. But one recent trip was my favorite in the Meridian. I flew from our airplane’s base in West Virginia to Ottumwa, Iowa; Bozeman, Montana; Ogden, Utah; San Diego, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Joplin, Missouri; and back to our home office in Ohio. I accomplished this in three days. I had a magnificent view from the front window to this beautiful country. Try that on an airliner!

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Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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