We can see a lot of a founder’s spirit within any given company. This is especially true for family-owned businesses like Robinson Helicopter Company. A connection between founder and company spirit may be a well-known concept. But it’s especially important to consider when looking at industry-defining companies like Robinson Helicopter. By looking at the innovative spirit of Frank Robinson we can better understand why the company has been such a dynamic force in the world of helicopter design and manufacturing.
One of the most important points of Frank’s life came about in childhood. He and the rest of his family were making their way through the great depression. It was a time that crushed many people’s spirits. But Frank was instead inspired to look toward the sky. He saw an early prototype helicopter in a magazine. The idea fascinated him in a way that would pave the path forward for the rest of his life. However, it’s also important to remember that Frank had three older siblings. It was a house full of life that continually drove home the importance of family.
With the help of his family, Frank Robinson was able to attend the University of Washington. Over time he’d also obtain a pilot’s license and commercial rating. In fact, he’d obtain that while working on his engineering degree. Frank would go on to work within the industry. But a man with his spirit will always look past the established boundaries of his field. Frank had seen how the price point of helicopters was often cost-prohibitive. He also felt that the designs could be simplified. His employers at the time weren’t convinced. But this simply drove Frank to start his own company and prove the inherent truth of his proposition. This was the birth of Robinson Helicopter Company. Frank didn’t just prove his engineering chops either.
Over time Frank’s company has continually showcased his spirit of innovation. Frank’s successful R22 prototype proved just how clear his vision of the industry was. And he’d also prove the wisdom of valuing family as the business expanded along those lines. Today Robinson Helicopter Company is a family business that continues Frank’s legacy. Both his family and his innovative spirit continue to shine within it.