Tony Freudmann

Understand the needs of your customers and identify the inefficiencies and the way they work. Then work with them to eliminate the inefficiencies. When it works it becomes mutually beneficial.


Tony Freudmann is the Director of the RiverOak Strategic Partners. He has thirty years of aviation and travel industry experience. The Manston Airport, located 70 miles from the center of London, closed in May of 2014. As a leader in the industry, he was approached by colleagues and investors who were interested in restoring the airport. The request was for Tony to take on the challenge of rebuilding and revitalizing the long-abandoned airport.

Tony took control of strategic planning and operations for the project in 2014. He was very familiar with the history of the Manston Airport. He began by searching for financing and investor support. He was able to draw support for the project at a national and local level. Operations began when he assembled the expertise required to create teams of qualified individuals and talented consultants.

Tony Freudmann continues the development of this restoration project. The vision is that it is a community facing project. It combines the best in private enterprise and the best community relations. There has been a lot accomplished with this vision. He considers this as a great achievement. Furthermore, it is the same consensus from major funders, fellow directors, to Investors, public authorities, and members of parliament, which gives strength and integrity to this uniquely beneficial project.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I was approached and asked if I could come up with a strategy to reopen the airport. I began to look for resources to be able to make it happen. I researched many alternatives. Ultimately, I found an American equity group called RiverOak Investment company. They came over and were initially interested in investing in the project. In retrospect, the company reconsidered their initial position. They had not done business outside of the U.S. in the past. They would not be interested in pursuing a project outside of the U.S. However, two of their Directors decided to leave the U.S. company, and with permission from RiverOak, they created a new U.K. registered entity using the RiverOak name. We became RiverOak Strategic Partners. Then together we were able to raise funding to bring the project forward which is where we are today.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

We don’t have an office. I don’t have a typical day. I have a home office. The workflow is no different than it would be if we had an office. I email, make phone calls, run reports, write documents etc. The days that I have meetings, we use the offices of our retained law firm in central London. There can be up to 30 people at these meetings. We also have meetings with potential users of the airport. There are also many meetings with the government. I spend a lot of my time in London, but the airport is 70 miles away from where I meet with supporters.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring ideas to life by sharing ideas with everyone concerned. Every Monday we have a meeting with all of our consultants. They are encouraged to bring ideas for discussion and development. It there are ideas that are worthy of taking forward, then they are taken forward. We meet to discuss ideas and solutions and also to discuss any challenges. There are six Directors of the company. All of our decisions are evidence based. Many times, we meet with those consultants working on specialized projects.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One trend that excites me is e-commerce. People are shopping online more than they are going to shops. As a cargo industry, we have a long way to go to satisfy the needs of e-commerce consumers. But will be getting there. It is the direction we are going. We are uniquely placed to fulfill that desire.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I would say when you work from home you can function at 6:30 in the morning. You are able to extract the non-productive workday which use to be the commute. I feel more productive now then I could ever feel working in an office.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to be more adventurous and take more risks. If the work you do does not stir your passion, don’t stay with it for more than three or four years. It is not going to get any better.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Many people do not believe in paying a good wage. I believe if you pay a person a good wage you will have their loyalty and less turn over on the job. You should have employees who can afford to buy what you’re selling. (Henry Ford) I don’t believe in the modern view of the where the top become mega, mega rich, but the people at the bottom make barely minimum wage. I don’t agree with that as an approach.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I would say not wasting time. Make sure that everything that you do fits the strategy of your work. Your time should always be productive. Make sure that every meeting has a purpose. Be time efficient and focused. Always recognize why you’re doing something and the purpose for what you’re doing.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Understand the needs of your customers and identify the inefficiencies and the way they work. Then work with them to eliminate the inefficiencies. When it works it becomes mutually beneficial.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

During the financial crash in 2008, I had created a vehicle for bringing together a number of tour operations using the latest technologies. It was an excellent strategy. It was well funded. The crash in the stock market made investors scared and consequently, they pulled out their support and the business failed. What I learned from that experience is that I should not rely on stock market investors. I will only go with private investors.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Congestion and pollution are forcing the combustion engine out of the marketplace. I would suggest focusing on eco-friendly solutions such as an electric bus or motorbikes. Or find some kind of niche within that marketplace.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I bought a hybrid SUV. It is a nice car, more importantly, it is much more environmentally friendly with fewer emissions.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I use email and my cell phone. It is important to sense what people are feeling. You cannot get that from non-verbal communications.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Leopard, a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. It’s a great movie (Back to Lampedusa) and an even better book.

What is your favorite quote?

Everything must change so that everything can stay the same

Key Learnings:

• Make sure that everything that you do fits the strategy for your work.
• In your youth, be more adventurous and take more risks.
• Work with customers to eliminate the inefficiencies. When it works it is mutually beneficial.