David has been a tremendous mentor and friend for 17 years and it is truly an honor to succeed him. David has always believed you have to be part of something bigger than yourself. It’s what helped shape our idea of “doing it right” and ensuring that at the end of the day our people have a holistic vision of success. I am looking forward to building on David’s legacy and further evolve his vision and philanthropic efforts at AAR. —John Holmes, President and CEO of AAR
What happens when leaders shift their corporate culture? What happens when corporations build their values around people instead of the bottom line? What happens when employees are offered the opportunity to receive immeasurable return?
It was three years ago that David Storch, the CEO of AAR, led his employees into a new and bold direction. AAR refreshed their purpose and values with the belief that if employees were fully engaged in their workplace by aspiring to their company’s higher purpose and living its values, positive change could be made. AAR deepened its focus not only on becoming a best-in-class aviation aftermarket services provider, but also creating a high-performance culture that started with senior leadership. So how does a leader strategically navigate this shift?
“The key to leadership is understanding that it’s not about you — it’s about your people. Good leaders fight for their people,” David says.
This model has proven successful. Under David’s tenure, AAR has grown sales by over 300 percent and was named to Forbes magazine’s “100 Most Trustworthy Companies In America” twice, an honor determined through rigorous assessment by an independent analytics firm and attained by fewer than 5 percent of public companies.
“During his tenure at AAR, David led with both tenacity and heart. He was committed to delivering excellence in his industry, genuinely cared for all of his employees, and always looked for ways to help young people,” says U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
David’s authenticity and commitment to corporate responsibility is visible in every aspect of his leadership style. Under his leadership, AAR has donated millions to their partner organizations in host communities worldwide and invested countless hours in shaping the next generation of aviation mechanics, engineers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. His excitement for helping the next generation of leaders is contagious. AAR employees also take an active interest in mentoring and learning more about the lives of the students who intern with them, and love being involved in community initiatives.
“David is the type of leader who leads by example and believes firmly that actions are far more meaningful than words,” says Ron Levin, co-founder of Invest for Kids and managing director at Goldman Sachs. “This approach is not just part of his business activity, but in his philanthropic endeavors as well. David does not only just write checks to organizations, but also rolls up his sleeves, gets involved, and inspires others around him to do the same.”
Zarria Bailey, a recent graduate at Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy and intern at AAR, is a firsthand example of the impact he has made in the lives of Chicago students. “Mr. Storch has invested in my life in so many ways. He provided me with SAT tutoring, and through his generosity I got to fly on my very first airplane to a conference in Washington. He’s more than a just a sponsor or CEO; he cares about my future.”
Pastor James Meeks, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, echoes that statement by describing David as, “Dedicated, sincere, and emotionally connected to young people everywhere.”
How does one develop this type of leadership skill set that puts ethics and a core set of values at the forefront?
Growing up in Westbury, New York, now dubbed the “Melting Pot Village,” David’s passion for social justice and innovation started at a young age. His parents were first generation American and were the first in their family to own a home in this highly integrated community. “I grew up with people of all skin-tones and backgrounds. We shared common interests and community, but as I got older, I realized that we were not all treated equally.”
As David grew as a leader, he always felt a responsibility to leverage his position to create a level playing field both for his employees and his community. “My goal has always been to get other leaders exposed and excited about a cause,” David reiterates.
David stays true to this core goal. In addition to his focus on executive leadership and global growth at AAR, Storch serves on the boards of the publicly held companies Kemper Corporation and KapStone Paper and Packaging Corporation. He also serves on the board of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago.
David retired from AAR after 40 years of service and leadership. AAR, a global aftermarket solutions company employing more than 6,000 people in over 20 countries, is “doing it right” in both business and society. When looking for a model of ethical leadership, one does not need to look further than David Storch.
As the founder of Perspectives, I invite you to learn more about how Perspectives develops future ethical leaders, like David. Our proven educational model, called A Disciplined Life®, merges academic rigor, social emotional skills, and experiential learning to establish a culture of trust, tolerance, hard work, and achievement. We are committed to providing a holistic, high-quality education to ensure our students graduate from Perspectives prepared to become ethical leaders en route to productive and meaningful life.