From Handyman to Private Jet Ownership in 12 Years

From handyman to truck driver, to private jet owner and pilot in 12 years. Fabrizio Poli catches up with Gheorghi ‘George’ Turcanu to discuss his meteoric rise to success...

Fabrizio Poli  |  10th January 2023
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Fabrizio Poli
Fabrizio Poli

Fabrizio Poli is Senior Consultant at Orville Aviation. He is also an Airline Transport Pilot. Mr. Poli...

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Gheorghe Turcanu in the cockpit of his Embraer Phenom 100 jet

Gheorghe ‘George’ Turcanu is a multimillionaire and the Founder and President of GT Express, a successful Chicago-based business in the transportation and logistics industry. Born and raised in the Republic of Moldova, George always had a passion for entrepreneurship and the drive to succeed.

Twelve years ago, age 19, George landed in the United States through a work-visa scheme only to discover the job he had come for was a scam. He had no money to return to Moldova, so he sat at a computer looking for work.

A guy kept coming up to him asking if he needed help, and though George was a bit suspicious that person insisted, offering to take George to stay at his parents’ home. As it turned out, Lee and his family turned out to be a major blessing in George’s life.

Left: Gheorghe progressed from mowing lawns to running an international trucking business and private jet ownership in 12 years.

George was happy to help around the house, and Lee’s father lent him a pick-up truck and a lawnmower. George started cutting people’s lawns and did all sorts of other things, from handyman jobs to construction work, to delivering pizzas to make money.

He knew that to succeed he needed to invest in himself and increase his value, so eventually George went to school to learn to drive trucks.

In no time, George was driving his own truck – but he didn’t stop there. He soaked in information from everywhere he could to learn the business side of the trucking industry. And, having started with one truck he soon owned three, one of which he drove, and two of which he hired others to drive.

Two Years and a Business Later...

In 2006, at the tender age of 21, George founded GT Express with a small team of dedicated employees. The company started as a small local transportation service, but through hard work and innovative thinking, it quickly grew into a thriving business with a fleet of over two hundred trucks and a wide range of services.

One of the keys to GT Express's success has been its focus on customer satisfaction. George and his team have always put the needs of their clients first, and this dedication has earned the company a reputation for reliability and excellence.

In addition to providing high-quality transportation services, GT Express also offers a range of value-added services such as warehousing and distribution, allowing the company to provide a complete end-to-end solution for its clients.

Under George’s leadership, GT Express has continued to grow and expand, serving clients across the globe. The company has received numerous awards and accolades for its outstanding performance, including being named one of the ‘Fastest Growing Companies in Europe’ by Forbes magazine.

Along his journey to success, George met many people that tried to dissuade him from his dreams, but he didn’t listen and stayed focused on the goal.

Aviation as a Stress Buster

A few years ago, George decided he needed something to help relieve the stress and grind of being an entrepreneur, and he took up flying as a hobby. George loved the challenge and developed a true passion for aviation.

One day he was talking to a person and shared his dream of learning to fly and eventually owning and piloting his own jet. The person he was talking to laughed, to which George simply replied, “watch me!”

Building his hours up to earn his Commercial Pilot’s Licence with Instrument and multi-engine ratings, George turned his attention to learning to fly jets. All the effort paid off when, in 2021, George acquired his first jet, an Embraer Phenom 100. As of this writing, the jet was seeing plenty of use, and had already flown more than 300 hours.

Indeed, George has done a solo transatlantic crossing in the Phenom 100, and keeps learning and enjoying flying it – and he also uses it as a business tool flying between his various truck terminals from Chicago to Arkansas, to Minneapolis, and Las Vegas.

Before he had the jet his friends would call him up and ask what he was up to. Now they call him and ask where he is. According to George, the jet is giving him a lot of freedom and the ability to get to places quickly.

Initially George had another pilot train him and fly with him, but now he does a lot of flying single-pilot.

George frequently takes his team members with him, and often visits 2-3 cities in one day, returning to Chicago in the evening to have dinner with his family. In particular, he recalls a recent trip to Arkansas with his team which would have cost more to fly with the airlines than it cost to fuel the Phenom 100.

There are obviously more costs to running a jet than fuel alone, but George shares that while directly the jet is more expensive, indirectly it isn’t. He illustrates this with another success story...

The Indirect Benefits of Flying a BizJet

Recently, George flew his Phenom 100 to see a dealer in Ohio about GT Express buying more semi-trucks. George had tried negotiating over the phone, but the price was not coming down, so he told the dealer he would fly in the next day to sit down face to face.

The dealer knew he would be arriving on his own private jet, and as he picked him up at the airport asked who flew his jet. The fact that George not only owned the jet but flew it, too, impressed the dealer.

As they sat down to talk business, George had hoped to get a $5,000 discount per truck on a twenty-truck deal. To his surprise, he and the dealer had connected so well that the dealer wanted to do more business with him in the future and offered a discount of $7,500 per truck.

As a result, the private jet trip that cost George just under $4,000 ended up saving his company $150,000.

The Secret to George’s Success

George shares that the secret to his success lies in continuous learning, through courses, books, podcasts, and more. In fact, Elon Musk’s story is what truly inspired George, both being immigrants who started from scratch.

George is already looking at buying Tesla electric trucks for his company, so perhaps a meeting with Elon is a future possibility.

Despite his many achievements, George remains humble and dedicated to his work. In his own words, George explains: "I am not satisfied with just achieving success; I want to inspire others to do the same. I believe that with hard work, dedication, and a willingness to take risks, anyone can achieve their dreams."

George Turcanu's success as the Founder and President of GT Express is a testament to his drive, vision, and dedication. His ability to adapt to changing market conditions and embrace new technologies has allowed his company to thrive and grow, earning him a reputation as a leader in the transportation and logistics industry.

His private jet has become a valuable tool in helping George scale his business, and as GT Express expands internationally, he will be looking at more aircraft to help both him and his company achieve their global goals.

Watch the full interview with George Turcanu here:

Learn more about GT Express:

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