2020: A Year that Changed Us All

Here at Mente Group, we are equipped, qualified, and wired to perform miracles on behalf of clients whom we fiercely protect.  We have been highly successful operating by the core belief that the difficult is already done, but the impossible might take a few minutes more.

By Jim Lewis, Managing Director, Western Division/Asia

We accomplish this by attracting, hiring, and building a company-wide ethos with the right people.  We have created the right culture and have learned the value of working together and accomplishing the impossible.  Not too many years ago, Gulfstream was led by Bryan Moss, a fellow we all respect and admire, and who knew and appreciated the value of leading less from your head and more from somewhere deep inside your chest.  His saying was “what does it take to get to yes”.  Guided by this core philosophy, he was able to build a company that continues to prosper from that ethos and culture.

At Mente Group, we are led by Brian Proctor, a man with the same appreciation. Yes, our significant list of products – before, during and after the transaction, are all data driven.  Even our company name means “with intellect” in Latin.  However, individually we are all driven by something more visceral.  It is working well for us, which means it works well for our clients.

This culture and company ethos seems to be tested each year, starting sometime in mid-September, when the realization of end-of-year issues by our existing and new clients become a bit more pressing.  We all own calendars, and we all know it is coming every year…but it always seems to catch the entire industry off-guard.  Anyone reading this needs no reminder of the challenges and difficulties our industry faced last year.  Added to the normal year-end churn was the notion that events in Washington and the world, coupled with almost certain changes to tax considerations would make things a bit more interesting.  This year, we even saw added pressure from perishable pre-buy slots, issues with insurance, financing, and training slots. It was quite a combo, but we finished a year that started dreadfully with a 30% increase in total transaction value, most of which closed in the 4th quarter.

There are many, but one example of accomplishing the impossible in last year’s demanding environment was a transaction for a new client that began with a phone call on December 2nd.  The overall objective was to acquire and put into service a G550 – by December 31st.  The normal answer, of course, is “yes”…but this was obviously not a normal year. We needed to identify, evaluate, decide, negotiate LOI/APA, ensure appropriate ARCS due-diligence was performed, acquire, and get the jet into service – in time for requisite tax-efficient operations.  It took action and coordination between each Mente Group business unit (especially heroics of the Transaction Team), a friendship between two capable law firms, two reputable IADA dealer-brokers, and every waking minute to pull off the feat.  In the end, the G550 delivered before Christmas, and flew several business flights without a hitch.

We emerged from this 4th quarter stronger, smarter and an even more cohesive group.  Once again, we learned the value of sticking together, working together, and helping each other.  We learned how important each of our roles is to the project’s success and client satisfaction.  We learned the value of relationships.  We learned how powerful and capable our company is.  We learned to appreciate each other’s skillsets as part of the team.  We learned the value of “what does it take to get to yes”.  Of course, we already knew all it…but 2020 was a great opportunity to reinforce it.

Perhaps it can be an excellent metaphor for the next few weeks, months, and years in our country.

 

About the Author:

Jim Lewis is Mente Group’s Managing Director, West Coast.  He is a 45-year aviation industry leader with 24 years in operations & 21 years in aircraft sales/marketing/business development.

His experience ranges from early days as a freight/charter pilot and regional airline captain, to chief pilot/flight department manager, to Beech Aircraft/Galaxy Aerospace sales demonstration pilot, sales manager, director and vice president.  Jim’s sales and marketing tenure includes successful careers at marquis OEMs with more than $2.5 billion in aircraft transactions.  He spent 16 years serving as the U.S. West Coast Director for Galaxy/Gulfstream and 2 ½ years at Embraer – responsible in each position for business development and new/active accounts, leveraging his strengths in aerospace technical aspects, aircraft operations, brand building and developed an extensive list of long term customer relationships.

Jim is a member and active with NBAA, CBAA, the Columbia Aviation Association, the Cascade Aero Club, the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association, the Oregon Pilots Association, and is a frequent industry presenter-speaker.  An active aircraft owner with an Airline Transport Pilot license, 8 type ratings, and over 10,000 hours of flight time, Jim volunteers his time and airplane for Veteran’s Airlift Command and Challenge Air missions.

Jim holds a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Science (Management Specialization) from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Science from Florida Southern.  Jim serves twelve western states, western Canada and the Pacific region for Mente Group from his base in Portland Oregon, and enjoys flying, cooking, travel and golf.

 

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