The man who would bring commercial flights back to Vero
STORY BY MEG LAUGHLIN, (Week of July 5, 2012)
When Boynton Beach resident Vincent Kish visited Vero Beach government officials and the airport manager a few weeks ago, he brought a 27-page report to the table that got everyone almost as excited as when the Wright brothers took to the air in 1903.
The proposal would base a new airline at the Vero Airport called SkyFlorida, which would initially serve Gainesville, Tallahassee, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Key West and Nassau.
Kish envisioned that within less than 12 months the airline would be bustling and pulling in revenues “in excess of $275,000 USD per year.” In 2015, there would be dozens more destinations and profits would pass $1.6 million annually – after payroll. By 2019, route lines on a Florida map would be so plentiful it would look like a 3-year-old went crazy with a crayon.
The local daily newspaper breathlessly reported in a lead front-page story that Kish hoped to have “29 planes flying to 39 destinations and ... 1,000 employees, with most working in Vero Beach.” The paper followed with what it called a “cautiously optimistic” editorial quoting Kish talking about the huge potential for the commercial line.
The Indian River Chamber of Commerce reported in its online newsletter that the director of economic development, Helene Casteltine, recommended Jupiter investors to Kish, even though he has yet to file incorporation papers for SkyFlorida with the Florida Secretary of State.
“We wish him all of the luck in the world,” Casteltine told 32963.
But what was painfully absent from this hopeful vision for Vero Beach was this simple question: Who is Vincent J. Kish?
“As we move forward with negotiations and investors, we’ll ask more questions, but not yet, because we don’t want to undermine anything,” said Vero Beach airport director Eric Menger.
Casteltine agreed: “Let him get the finances in place and then we’ll check his background. It’s too early, now.”
Meanwhile, 32963 found gaping holes, multiple inconsistencies and misinformation in what Kish claims in his written and oral resumes.
Kish was upset this week when asked about the inconsistencies.
“What you report to the public is something different from what I report to investors,” he said. “What gives you the right to publish something that undermines something private I’m trying to do? You have no right to invade my privacy. ”
When 32963 first called Kish, he said he didn’t have a written resume, but he would provide an oral one. He began: “I’ve been in aviation all of my life.”
He said he graduated from Coral Springs High School in the late 1990s and went to Lynn University in Boca Raton for four years, graduating in 2002 with a degree in business administration and aviation management. He’s said he’s 35 but declined to provide a date of birth.
“I have to keep some things private because of investors,” he explained.
The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles shows only one Vincent J. Kish in Florida. He resides in Boynton Beach at the address on one of Kish’s written resumes and was born on Sept. 5, 1986.
He is 25 not 35, which means he graduated from Lynn University at age 15, based on what he said.
A Lynn University records supervisor said Kish did not graduate from there, but did take a few courses between January 2006 and October 2007.
A 2009 alumni booklet from the Coral Springs Christian Academy says Vincent J. Kish graduated from high school there (not Coral Springs High School as he said) in 2004, two years after he said he graduated from Lynn University.
In an autobiographical paragraph in the alumni book, Kish said he attended college online right after high school and got an undergraduate degree and MBA in four years, then became a financial representative for Metropolitan Life Insurance. He said he worked there four years until 2009.
“God has blessed me with success,” he wrote.
In a resume he put online, Kish said he got an MBA from Rochville University in 2007, “magma cume (sic) laude.” Rochville, which has been described as an “unaccredited online diploma mill” by consumer groups, made news in 2009 when it accidentally gave a degree to a pug dog, who did not graduate with honors. Graduating with honors cost an extra $100.
Contradicting the reunion yearbook information and his own online resume, Kish told 32963 he went to work for JetBlue in 2001 in Palm Beach, as a baggage handler. According to his driver’s license, he would have been 14 or 15, at the time. A human resources administrator at JetBlue’s New York headquarters said the airline has never hired anyone under 18.
Kish said while at JetBlue, he was also a projects coordinator and became very close to JetBlue founder and CEO “David Neeland.” (David Neeleman founded JetBlue.)
“He developed me into the person I am today,” Kish said.
In 2004, he said he went to work for ExpressJet in Jacksonville, staying there until 2007. “I was general manager for ExpressJet, then regional manager for the southeast,” he said. In a resume at the Vero Beach Clerk’s Office, he said he was general manager for ExpressJet.
A human resources analyst for ExpressJet, now based in Atlanta, said Kish worked for the company in Jacksonville for three months, from early April 2007 to mid July 2007, not three years, and was not general manager. He was 20 at the time.
Kish refused to say what he has done since 2007. “I have to keep very private to protect potential investors,” he said.
In his high school yearbook description in 2009, he said he had worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance for a few years.
But in an online resume, he said he had been vice president of marketing for Dream Makers Events in Deerfield since 2000. (He was 13 or 14 in 2000, according to his driver’s license.)
In May 2010, Dream Makers, which puts on weddings, was the subject of a RipOff complaint on RipOff.com, an online consumer advocacy group.
From the complaint: “Dream Makers by Rose Kish, Vincent Kish ... delivered wrong and wilting flowers, refused to offer a partial refund .... Vincent Kish threatened us.... said he’d (sue) for defamation of character if we left any bad reviews. Just beware. They talk a good game....”
Public documents show that Roseanne Kish, sometimes called “Rose,” is the name of Vincent’s mother.
“My mother ran a great company and I helped her,” said Kish. “She recently sold Dream Makers for a huge profit.”
A few days ago, yet another resume from Kish surfaced at the City of Vero Beach Clerk’s Office. In it, Kish lists airline jobs without giving dates: He says he was Skybus Airways station manager in St. Augustine.
Skybus operated in St. Augustine for 3 1/2 months, from Dec. 17, 2007, to April 5, 2008. Since the company is defunct, no one could confirm or deny that Kish worked there during that three months.
According to his high school reunion report, he was in the insurance business at the same time, and according to his online resume, he was working for Dream Makers in Deerfield.
When asked about overlapping jobs, he said he had held three different jobs in three different fields at the same time.
“I was very busy,” he explained.
It would be hard, then, to understand how just since the first of this year, according to his Facebook page, he has visited (in addition to Vero Beach) Cancun; Savannah; Antigua; Florence, Italy; Marco Island; New Orleans; Orlando; Staten Island; the Bahamas; Aruba; Las Vegas; Austin; Breckenridge; Fort Myers; Los Angeles; Sao Paulo; Tallahassee; Gainesville; Daytona Beach; Columbus; Islamorada; Venice, Italy; Capri, Italy; St. Lucia; Biloxi; Key West; Dominica; Cozumel; San Juan; Milan, Italy; New York; Tortola; Ontario, California; Tampa; Houston; Lakeland; Denver; St. Thomas; Lugano, Switzerland; Charleston; Barbados; Charlotte; and Bonaire.
The resume at the clerk’s office says he received a bachelor’s degree in business in 2005 and an MBA in 2007. The good news is it says he has been a station manager at Servisair in Ft. Lauderdale. According to an administrative assistant at the company, which provides employees to check passengers in and handle luggage, he has been a station manager since 2010 and still works there.
So, at least one position claimed in one of the resumes can be confirmed.
Kish was adamant he had a right to have his view of things, despite inconsistencies and misinformation: “For example, ExpressJet might say I wasn’t a general manager, but in my eyes I was because I was doing what general managers do.”
The wrong information and inconsistencies in his resumes are not as important as what he is trying to accomplish, he insisted. So what if he’s 25 not 35? So what if he didn’t graduate from Lynn University but somewhere else? And, who cares if he didn’t hold the jobs he claimed, if he can pull off something important that helps a lot of people?
“You can run what you want in your zip code magazine,” he said, “but you could crush something that would bring thousands of jobs to Vero Beach and make a huge difference.”
So do any of the people he has been selling his dream to seem to care about Kish’s background?
Indian River County Commissioner Peter O’Bryan’s reaction was surprising. “It would be great if he can get someone to give him the money to start the commercial airline here, and, if he does, it will be up to that person to check him out,” O’Bryan said.