Roberts Space Industries

Pan Galactic / PANGAL

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See you at our website — pangalactic.co



History

AIMING FOR THE STARS

In a little over five years, Pan Galactic has grown from, “a few rust buckets held together by hope and bubblegum” to a thriving company, contracting to some of the largest mega-corps.
Founder and company spokesperson, Vince Alexander, describes how a group of Navy pilots with no business background succeeded in a harsh universe.

By Akira Suzuki

Probe Vince Alexander, 38, on his formal business training and you get a smile. “None,” he replies happily. “I never write business plans; I wouldn’t know how. To this day I can’t even read a balance sheet.” Yet thanks to his vision, hard work and at times, sheer will, Alexander has helped to transform a group of former UEE Navy pilots into a much larger company, spanning multiple systems and employing far beyond its original roster of just ex-military fly boys and girls.

The atmosphere is casual inside the company’s main office space in Prime, the capital of Terra. Set against a backdrop of brushed concrete walls and chunky wooden tables are entertainment machines and a well-stocked bar. If it feels a little masculine and industrial, that’s by design. The atmosphere is unashamedly straightforward and workmanlike, echoing the company’s way of doing business and without any hint of the faux military posturing often seen in companies with a similar history. Indeed, to all intents and purposes, it feels like there’s little hierarchy at all. As staff continually walk in and out of the space, going about their business, Alexander sips on a scotch explains what makes the business different.

“The Pan Galactic style is remarkably different to other companies and corporations and I think that’s because neither I, nor the people who started this with me, have a business background,” he says. “We started as a small group of pilots with a few rust buckets held together by hope and bubblegum that we purchased straight after leaving the Navy. We began with small contracts — courier work, mostly. From there, we got to make new contacts and take on larger roles. That brought money. Money bought new ships. Suddenly we needed more pilots. Mechanics. Admin. Then we met people in industries we’d never dreamed of working with, like mining. It’s tended to flow in a weirdly logical progression for us.”

Alexander started in the UEE Navy in his early twenties. “I had rejected the concept of university and spent several years hitching my way around the ‘verse after school. After I got bored with that, I went into the Navy with a view to becoming a pilot,” he recalls. “It sounds ridiculous but it all seemed pretty easy at the time which, in hindsight, I think just shows that I had an aptitude for it and had happily got involved with it at the right time in my life.”

After 10 years in the Navy, Alexander felt something of the restlessness of his late teens and early twenties again. Along with a number of pilots he knew through his military service, both currently serving and already discharged — including some of his original classmates — a plan was hatched to invest in some ships and then head out to see what kind of fortune, if any, could be made on the back of their collective skills in a cockpit.

Initially, Pan Galactic wasn’t even ran like a traditional company. Instead, Alexander and his colleagues worked “mostly cash jobs” and didn’t even maintain a formal office. “We had a name and a logo, but we were nothing like a real company,” explains Alexander. A hangar on Terra provided a place for ships to dock when not in operation, with the pilots sleeping on board their ships or in some cots spread among the tools and spare parts. “It was a bit wild for the first six months or so, but coming from the military, we’d dealt with worse, so it didn’t actually seem that big a deal to us. We were just over the moon that we didn’t have to shave every day, or get up for patrol at certain times.”

From there the company began to grow apace. While there have been setbacks, including occasional pilot fatalities (not uncommon in any business of this nature), the rise and rise of Pan Galactic has been to the envy of similarly sized businesses, pitching for the same work. “It’s never easy to lose employees, whether they are old military schoolmates, or people we’d brought into the family more recently,” Alexander pauses, focused on his near empty glass. “But you have to go on. You have to keep moving. Sure, you think about them while you’re on the move; especially sitting in that cockpit. But if you stop to think about them too much outside of that, you might as well stop for good. It can become too overwhelming.”

Having started humbly with a modest number of employees, Alexander now leads a team he is loathe to put a figure on, citing that not all are full-time employees so the numbers could be considered deceiving. Industry estimates suggest the company has somewhere under 100 staff, a figure that Alexander won’t confirm but doesn’t dispute.

REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING
Aside from its earliest contracts, Pan Galactic has, “never touted for business. It’s all been word of mouth and recommendations. We’ve built up a brand over the last five years or so. It’s all reputation.”

That reputation was built in no small way thanks to Pan Galactic hitting upon a lucrative spot of business for the Musashi Industrial & Starflight Concern (MISC) in 2941-42 as one of its standby courier companies. “I got contacted out of the blue asking if I could have a ship on 24×7 standby for courier work. I said ‘Of course’, and then we had to figure out how to actually do it,” he laughs. “That was good work though, and led to us meeting a lot of people, both inside MISC and also at the other end of those courier jobs.”

Not only did the work put Pan Galactic on the map as a reliable operator, it cemented a relationship with MISC that continues to this day, although not in the same line, according to Alexander. “Everybody knows business is built around relationships and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been successful. We say what we mean and mean what we say and business people appreciate that. MISC particularly appreciates it. Some of our largest contracts have even been agreed with a handshake alone — we’re still that kind of company, and it suggests there’s still a market for being a little old-fashioned in some areas.”

Has Pan Galactic’s growing status allowed it to inflate prices? “Not at all. Our mark-up ratio is no different than when we started,” Alexander says simply. “We charge a fair price for what we do, and we make enough money so the fleet and our safety standards are industry-leading, but we’re under no illusions that we’re the only game in town. We might be simple pilots without business training, but aren’t about to price ourselves out of the market.”

With a team of managers but no deputy, Alexander relies heavily on his accountant and lawyer, not to mention gut instinct when it comes to taking the business forward. With the company having long outgrown its ex-military fly boy and girl underpinnings, the main business interests for Pan Galactic today include courier work, exploration, xenoarchaeology, escort and guide services, flight training, logistics, engineering and mining. The company has even provided x-ship test pilots to several manufacturers over the years, notably MISC. This has seen the employment of a diverse range of employees with no military background at all in some cases, for both direct and indirect roles.

Where will it all lead? “Well, we’ve got the ships and we’ve got the ability; the future is really in our hands,” Alexander says as he rises from his chair. It appears the interview is over. “We’re calling the tune, which is the only way I’d have it, quite honestly.” And, with a smile and a firm handshake, Vince Alexander has left the building but not, in all likelihood, these pages.

Manifesto

1) Orgs can be too big. We believe the sweet spot for an org sees between 25 and 100 members interacting.

2) Orgs can be too bureaucratic. We believe in having structure, but not to any sort of unnecessary degree.

3) Orgs can get lost in the metagame. We think filling the pre-game vacuum is necessary, but many orgs indulge in a kind of metagame to keep their members engaged that just tends to burn members out, which helps no one.

4) Orgs have forgotten their true meaning. We remember, back in the early days of MMORPGs, orgs were places where members gathered and were genuinely interested in one another, outside of what happened in the game. In more recent times this feeling has disappeared; particularly in orgs with hundreds and hundreds of members.

5) Pan Galactic is for people who remember (or want to experience), what MMORPG orgs used to be like. We’re an org that will never be too big; you’ll always be able to know the other members. Our infrastructure (both forum and voice), means you can turn up get the most out of Star Citizen with people who are happy to see you.

Charter

By applying to join Pan Galactic you affirm:

1) You understand Wheaton’s Law, aka, “Don’t be a dick”.

2) You have an interest in being part of a SOCIAL Star Citizen group. That means turning up and being social with other members of the group outside of the game itself. We’re more than just Star Citizen gamers.

3) You believe in putting something into a group as well as taking something out of it.

4) You believe in all gamers’ right to a good time and don’t discriminate on the basis of age, race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or socioeconomic status.

5) That if you don’t agree with any of the above, you won’t apply to join the group as you’ll only end up disappointed. I mean, come on, if you don’t agree with this stuff why would you want to join us?

FAQ

What is Pan Galactic?
Pan Galactic is a group of people who are coming together organically during the creation of Star Citizen / Squadron 42 with the intention of getting to know each other and widening our circle of friends in the Star Citizen community. By the time the game goes live this group will know each other very well, including preferred playstyles and timezones, making gaming together both pleasurable and easy to set up. It’s a form of group building that has served our founding members well for more than a decade.

Where are you based?
We have members from all over the world — and long may that continue. Basically we aren’t seeking to be a “US org” or a “UK org” or an “Oceanic org” or anything like that; we have long held the belief that multiple nationalities make for a more interesting org, with more diversity and interesting experiences — and they also gives us a handy around the clock game coverage.

What’s with the name, Pan Galactic?
There’s really two meanings behind it. The first, and perhaps most obvious one, is that it describes the org in a game lore sense. We are a group that operates across a wide expanse of space. The second, is that our org leader is a long-time Douglas Adams fan and the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is a made-up beverage from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series that’s always had an appealing ring to it. Plus, the Star Citizen team has dropped regular Adams references in their work, to the point of giving everyone a towel when the $42 million funding mark was reached (towels and the number 42 being massive references to Hitchhiker’s). Between those two aspects, the name sits comfortably in a game lore sense and also a hat tip to the dev team.

OK sold! Where do I sign up?
We love that kind of enthusiasm, but we want people who are a good fit for us, and vice versa. We recommend you read the rest of this FAQ, at the very least! When you’re happy that Pan Galactic is for you, head over to our Apply to Join page.

How will I know if I’m a fit for Pan Galactic?
Our Manifesto is a great place to start. Read it. See if you agree with it. If you don’t, you’re not going to be a fit with us. Also when you get to our Apply to Join page, you will be asked if you agree with five simple points, the first being the now commonplace Internet theme of, “Don’t be a dick”. This is something we’re very keen to see upheld. As adults, we don’t have the time or, frankly, the patience for people who want to join a group and cause trouble. If you want to be argumentative with people or act emo in every second post to get attention or basically come to us with an attitude that sits outside of a good, simple desire to make friends, communicate with those friends and have fun, then your stay with us will be a short one.

Are you roleplayers?
Some of us are, absolutely. Having said that, a lot of us aren’t — but we’d like to think that all members are “roleplay-friendly”, ie: if someone wants to make a story thread about their character, the rest of us will respect that and maybe even give some feedback, even if we don’t do it ourselves. For this reason, we don’t use the roleplaying tag on our RSI page quite deliberately as it might give the wrong impression to potential members that we are all roleplayers, or that we roleplay more than we do.

How is Pan Galactic governed?
At this point in time, with a small-ish (but rapidly growing) membership comprising mature individuals, the group doesn’t need a lot of governance and the buck stops with the org founder, Checkmate. In the future, if the group grows to a size where more management is required (and that is highly likely, but we aren’t there yet), we will adapt this method to whatever is required.

Sure, but what about when the game is live? Who gets to run {insert division name here}?
Wait, slow down… you’re getting a little ahead of things. Other groups might want to create huge org charts and put members in charge of imaginary stuff years before there’s a game, but we aren’t “other orgs”. At this stage we’re just gathering a group of Star Citizen fans who want to get to know each other better, with the ultimate goal of playing the game in the future. When we grow to a size where we need a more complex structure, we’ll look at it, obviously. But that’s some time away yet. A lot of orgs, we feel, tend to put the cart before the horse… and then wonder why they fall into trouble a few months down the road.

Will the org have taxes/dues?
Checkmate has never ran a group that has had such things, and we aren’t about to start now. That doesn’t mean if there are expenses in the game that we might not come together, voluntarily, to meet them — perhaps with some sort of fun money drive, ie: an in-game activity we do one weekend to make some quick money. But no, there won’t be any sort of monthly blanket tax on everyone. We’ve always found that kind of thing a bit silly; especially if it’s not required for anything immediate.

Can I be in other orgs as well as Pan Galactic?
Yes, you can, with the only suggestion being that you need to put in some effort with us to maintain your membership. If we don’t see you for a month, yet you’re playing every day with another org, we’d be inclined to take that as disinterest in us! So whether you are exclusive to us or not is ultimately up to you and how much time you think you have. Some people might find it very natural to be a regular Pan Galactic member and still put in a good showing somewhere else; that’s great. Others, however, will feel that Pan Galactic meets all their needs and not think twice about having a second group to play with. Both styles are equally valid and respected by us. We like to keep a choice that relates to your personal time in your hands, not ours.

Do you have a voice server?
Yes, members have access to a TeamSpeak server. Its details reside in the org’s private forum for members-only.