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  • Glenn Gonzales: Not Your Typical CEO

    by Devyn Imholt Glenn Gonzales is a certified pilot, military veteran, businessman, aviation industry expert, community leader, and founder/CEO of the private jet company Jet It. Along with its European partner Jet Club, Jet It has been on the cutting edge of “redefining luxury travel.” I had the pleasure of speaking to Glenn about his upbringing, his life, and his unique ideas that culminated in this game-changing company. Glenn was raised in Houston, Texas where he grew up with his parents and older sister. Even from a young age, Glenn excelled both academically and athletically. Glenn played sports for almost all of his academic career, making school and sports “one in the same.” Glenn attended Eisenhower High School where he was lettered in three varsity sports; track, cross country, and basketball. Glenn played point guard where he found his greatest attribute was “distributing,” or “passing the rock.” “I would rather make the assist because then two people are smiling and the team is doing better.” Glenn was exceptional in the classroom as well, being in the Gifted & Talented program as well as acting as the VP of the National Honor’s Society. Even with all of these activities, Glenn still found time to become the president of an organization at his church. Glenn had taken his first commercial flight when he was only five years old. This instilled an affinity for flight that was only re-affirmed by the times in which he grew up (the space race, Superman, and Star Wars were all prominent media surrounding the skies). “I just loved looking up.” By the time Glenn graduated from Eisenhower, he had formulated two goals: he wanted to play division one college basketball and he wanted to learn how to pilot a plane. Glenn enlisted in the United States Air Force Academy to successfully pursue both of his goals. Glenn continued to play point guard where he excelled as a defensive-minded, pass-first player, citing UNLV, Utah, and BYU as being some of his most memorable games. However, things would not come as naturally for him when it came to becoming a pilot. When Glenn first attended the academy there was a rule that pilots had to have perfect 20/20 vision in order to fly. Upon his initial medical examination, he was told that his vision wasn’t 20/20 and that he would never be able to become a pilot. Despite this disappointing news, Glenn continued to work towards his dreams. He decided that if he couldn’t fly a plane, he would instead turn to designing and improving them. Eventually, by the time Glenn graduated the rules had been changed, providing him with an opportunity to fly. All he needed was the opportunity. Glenn quickly ascended to the top of his class, becoming the first one in his class to pilot a plane by himself. After perfecting his own skills, he went on to become an instructor pilot. In his first year of instructing, Glenn was named the instructor pilot of the year at his base, including 460 others. His time as a student, athlete, and pilot in the academy instilled in him important time management, delegation, and communication skills, as well as improving upon his vigorous work ethic. Being an instructor taught him how to be an “effective and efficient communicator,” as teaching left little room for error. Glenn described his time after the military as “defining.” Glenn now found himself with two children and a wife to support right at the height of the economic downturn. He “had to set sights on values,” deciding to go back to school in order to transition himself into the world of sales. His work ethic truly shined as he had seven things going at once: being a husband, being a father, starting an MBA at the University of South Carolina, finishing his Master’s in Aeronautical Sciences at the renowned Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, working full-time as a defense contractor, working full-time at Gulf Stream, and remaining in the USAF reserves. This period of hard work allowed Glenn to reposition himself from being an accomplished pilot to someone who could effectively sell planes. This period of hard work eventually paid off, resulting in an opportunity for Glenn to become a Regional Sales Manager with the Honda Aircraft Company. While at Honda, Glenn began working with longtime colleague Vishal Hiremath to formulate a concept for an industry-changing business. This culminated in the founding of Jet It and Jet Club. Jet It’s unique business model has since revolutionized private aviation. Jet It allows its owners to own a share of a plane, giving them the opportunity to have the plane for entire days rather than the typical method of paying per flight hour. This gives the customers a unique opportunity to use the planes for whatever they may want on the days they have them. Such a unique idea was not initially embraced and was even questioned. Glenn was confident and knew that this business would be impactful, deciding to invest heavily even as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This ended up being a game-changing move as the private aviation industry saw a 30% increase after the pandemic. With Glenn and Vishal leading the way, Jet It and Jet Club have quickly become key players in the private aviation industry. Even for being a young company, Glenn has already received recognition and numerous awards for the impact that Jet It has already made. Glenn and Vishal were given the prestigious Ernest and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 Southeast Award, an award that has previously been given to owners of corporate giants like Starbucks and LinkedIn. Adding to his own Top Gun Honors and other military awards, Glenn was recently awarded the Brigadier Charles E. McGee Aviation Inspiration Award for Jet It’s industry-changing efforts, an award named after the former Tuskegee Airman, who was Glenn’s personal friend and mentor. Glenn is not easily satisfied with personal success. Like in his point guard days, Glenn is all about providing opportunities. Aside from dedicating time to his business and family, Glenn is proud to be a spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and a program coordinator for Special Olympics. He also holds board member positions at Big Brothers Big Sisters Greensboro, American Heroes for North Carolina, Launch Greensboro, and the Industry Advisory Council for the National Business Aviation Association. Glenn is someone who stays in the moment, taking things one flight at a time, prioritizing the safety of his passengers and the well-being of his employees. He described to me that even as the CEO, he will fill in as a pilot so that his employees can have time off. Glenn Gonzales is not your typical CEO. Glenn grew up without any familial or personal connection to the aviation industry and has become a leader in revolutionizing the business. His days as a point guard and a pilot have instilled in him important leadership skills that he is using to help his company be the best it could possibly be. Jet It is still a new company but despite its age, it has already begun to change and impact the aviation landscape. With Glenn in the captain’s seat, you can be assured that Jet It will be a powerful company for a long time to come.

  • Rina Chanel: A Songstress Focused on Quality and Positivity

    by Devyn Imholt Rina Chanel is a recording artist who creates a unique sonic blend of RnB, classic soul, and jazz. With an extensive background in live performance, Rina’s impactful vocals are causing her to receive well-deserved attention as she ventures into the world of studio recording. I had the pleasure of speaking to Rina about her upbringing, her relationship with her producer Bennie Pearce, and her upcoming summer release, the EP “Rina.” Rina Chanel spent the first decade of her life in Brooklyn, New York. Always around music, she cited Anita Baker and Sade as some of her biggest inspirations from when she was young. Rina went to a school for gifted arts where she began to realize her talent for vocalization. Her mother would describe a sixth-grade chorus performance as the moment when she realized her daughter’s true talent for music. It was Rina’s first public performance, and she had a solo within the performance that left her mother in tears. When Rina and her mother moved to Virginia Beach, Rina continued to perform, participating in chorus, musicals, and opera. She also participated in a jazz choir, one she cites as being impactful by helping to instill improvisation skills within her. Her teacher would put them on the spot, forcing her to truly feel the music, testing her vocals, and allowing for her personality to shine. Eventually, Rina was able to attend Radford University on a voice scholarship for opera. Rina spent her time at Radford extremely busy with rehearsals, recitals, and other performances. After graduating, she moved to Washington DC where began to perform opera professionally. She began to work with international recording artist Tracy Hamlin as her voice teacher. Tracy went on to have a huge impact on Rina, helping her to make a transition into soulful music like RnB and Jazz. Rina had the vocal talent to do so, but Tracy helped her by showing her the ins and outs of being a professional singer. Tracy set Rina up with producer Raymond Barton to feature on 2017’s “Don’t Give Up on Love,” her first studio recording experience. With a background in vocal performance and a successful teacher by her side, Rina was ready to make the transition into becoming her own artist. She met producer Bennie Pearce on Bandmix, and after singing in a band where Bennie was the bass player, they established a powerful working connection. They began to collaborate on a series of singles, released under Bennie’s independent label Phillie-BOP Productions, “Worthy” and “Made” in 2020, and “More Than Enough” and “Sweetest of Melody” in 2021. Since meeting and working together, the two have established a musical connection that Bennie describes as “yin and yang.” Rina talked to me about the importance of having someone like Bennie to help her in her journey as an artist, explaining that the two are extremely flexible in their creativity. This doesn’t just end in the vocal performance, but also extends to the production and structure of the song itself. They both want the product to come out the best it possibly could, explaining that there’s no “diva or ego” between them. In a world where artists are constantly trying to “claw their way to the top,” Rina is confident that her tribe will find her. Her naturally bubbly attitude is captured within her music which she describes as “wrapped in love and positivity.” Rina and Bennie are currently working on Rina’s debut project, an EP entitled “Rina.” The project is self-titled for a reason, as Rina explained to me that the EP is introspective and reflective, providing her fans with an in-depth look into who she is. Bennie and Rina both share a passion for trying to make music that they would consider “classic.” They want their product to be quality and are not pressured by the release-heavy era that the music industry is currently in. They would rather take their time to create a classic than rush and release filler. Rina is very excited about her EP and her musical future working with Bennie and Phillie-BOP Productions. Aside from releasing engaging music, Rina wants to extend herself into synch licensing for film and television, venture into the worlds of health and beauty, and continue to perform live as much as possible. Rina has an incredible background in vocalization, in combination with her partnership with Bennie, contagious personality, and dedication to quality, Rina Chanel is an artist to certainly keep your eye on.

  • Bennie Pearce: A Producer Dedicated to Making “Classics”

    by Devyn Imholt Bennie Pearce is a musician, producer, songwriter, composer, recording engineer, and head of Phillie-BOP Productions. Bennie grew up in Philadelphia where he had an affinity for music from a very young age. Bennie has partnered with recording artist Rina Chanel to create a unique sonic blend of smooth R&B, jazz, and blues. I had the pleasure of speaking with Bennie about his come-up, his goals with Phillie-BOP, and his future with Rina. Bennie was around music his entire life, causing him to gravitate towards it naturally. One summer, he locked himself in his room with music theory books and a bass guitar, determined to teach himself how to play. Eventually, by the end of the summer, Bennie had successfully taught himself how to play. Shortly after, he began to receive offers to play gigs in the local area. Even in Philadelphia, a city Bennie compared to “playing at the Apollo,” where “you have to be on your Ps and Qs,” Bennie was embraced for his talent at such a young age. By the time he was fifteen he was playing the bass guitar professionally. Aside from being incredibly talented for his age, Bennie was also remarkably flexible, being able to perform gigs across various musical genres. After leaving Philly, Bennie went on to spend twenty-four years in the Navy, as well as receiving degrees in Public Administration and Business Management. As busy as he was, music was always first. He always kept instruments with him and continued to play gigs even during his time in the Navy. After his time in the military, Bennie began to formulate a plan for his own business. He wanted to become a producer, and he wanted to create a space where he could freely write and produce with artists he liked. This culminated in the creation of his production company, Phillie-BOP Productions. Phillie-BOP’s name was dual purpose, being a reference to a Philadelphia dance, the “Philly-BOP,” as well as BOP representing Bennie’s initials. Rather than jump right in after formulating this business concept, Bennie took his time to study the business aspects of the music industry. He attended numerous musical conferences and took songwriting classes in order to improve his writing skills. He began building a production house while continuing to look for an artist. Eventually, Bennie found exactly what he was looking for in Rina Chanel. Bennie describes his musical relationship with Rina as “yin and yang,” telling me that their connection was evident from the first time they ever worked together. Rina’s smooth voice perfectly fits the elegant production that Bennie creates to surround it. Bennie also emphasized that they work together throughout the entire process, from writing the music and lyrics, to producing and recording the songs. In 2020, Phillie-BOP went live for the first time, releasing “Worthy,” and “Made,” singles by Rina and Bennie. This was followed up with the 2021 releases “More Than Enough” and “Sweetest of Melody.” The singles ended up being widely successful, topping charts and bringing buzz to the Phillie-BOP brand. Their partnership continued even past the series of singles they created. They ended up re-engaging their collaboration to create a five-song EP to be released this summer. The EP, entitled “Rina,” is set to be a more in-depth look into Rina as an artist and person, providing a more introspective look into who Rina Chanel is. With Rina and Bennie’s unique partnership, Phillie-BOP is looking to extend itself from a production company into an independent label. Originally, Bennie had planned to establish and operate under a separate label name, but after the success that Rina’s singles have been met with, Bennie decided to keep the name under Phillie-BOP. The label looks to specialize in R&B, Acoustic/Soul, Singer-Songwriter, Instrumental Jazz, and Pop artists, genres that Bennie himself has an affinity for. As Bennie looks toward the future, his primary goal is to push the music. He is confident in his alliance with Rina, as he sees a superstar in the making. Aside from his partnership with Rina, Bennie is excited to move forward with Phillie-BOP as he looks for new artists to sign. His professional demeanor, talent, and care are evident in the music he produces. Bennie is someone who is patient. He is willing to take his time in order to perfect his craft. Bennie isn’t looking for short-term success, as he explained to me, his priority is making music that can be called “classic.” Bennie wants Phillie-BOP music to sound just as good in ten years as the day it was created.

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