Bob Wuelfing learned how to fly a helicopter so he could get home to Boston from his New York business trips in time for dinner.
Now, the founder of Access Research, a former division of The Spectrem Group, and the Society of Professional Administrators and Record Keepers has parlayed his interest in flying into a growing number of businesses.
"Everyone needs at least two businesses," he said, with a laugh. "One to make money and another for fun."
He started Access Research in 1986 to gather and then sell defined contribution market research, and SPARK in 1988 as an industry group for defined contribution plan service providers. By 1992, Mr. Wuelfing said, he spent at least three days a week visiting clients in New York and didn't get home until late at night.
So, he took time off work, got his helicopter pilot's license (he already had a private pilot's license) and bought his first helicopter.
Fairly soon, the enterprising Mr. Wuelfing began training others. Today, his company, New England Helicopter, trains 35 people a year, mostly from Japan, where flight training is more expensive. Once they're trained, another of his businesses, New England Helicopter Sales and Leasing, takes over.
For those who are not the do-it-yourself type, Mr. Wuelfing created an air taxi service with a small twin-engine airplane that seats eight people around a conference table with telephones. And he is joining with Warren Cormier, founder of Boston Research Group, to start a second air taxi service, Air Wuelf. The new plane will have a refreshment center, bathroom and entertainment center, he said.