After surviving a random shooting, Frisco CEO discusses new outlook on life, business
Brian and Karin Proctor had just finished dinner with a group of friends in Frisco and were driving home.
The couple drove up to a traffic circle and pulled up behind a stopped pickup truck. Even though the traffic circle was empty, the truck wasn’t moving. And the truck’s lights were off.
Brian Proctor, president and CEO of Mente Group
Brian, who was driving, thought this was odd. He flashed his lights. It was probably some teen texting and not paying attention, he figured. Brian started looking around.
Karin was looking forward. She saw the truck’s back window roll down.
“I feel like my eyes could see evil rushing out if it,” Karin said.
Then, she saw two flashes of light, and knew it was gunfire.
“I’ve been hit,” Brian said.
Karin leaned over to assist, but she heard a voice say, “Karin, get down.” She crouched down. Another shot.
She thought about looking at the truck’s license plate, but that would require lifting her head potentially into the line of fire. She stayed down.
Brian threw the car in reverse and backed up about 15 feet. Three more shots.
Seconds after it started, the truck sped off.
Authorities came to the scene and took Brian to the hospital. The Proctors were lucky to be alive.
One of the bullets had fragmented, hit Brian in the forehead and skidded across his skull. Another bullet struck Brian in the elbow. Three more shots were lodged in the the grill of the Proctors’ car.
Karin was unharmed. Police later told the Proctors another bullet had gone through the windshield, and would have hit Karin had she not ducked. To this day, authorities haven’t caught the shooters and the motive is unclear.
Brian remembers sitting in his hospital bed the next day. Loved ones had just left his room. The television droned on. It was one of the first chances he had to think about what happened.
“I was sort of thinking about life and how blessed I was to survive,” Brian said. Both he and Karin credit their faith for helping them get through the June 2018 incident. “I promised myself at that point that I wasn’t going to dabble anymore in what we’re doing as a business. We’re going to push this business as hard as it possibly can.”
Brian is president and CEO of Mente Group, an aviation asset advisory firm that specializes in corporate aviation. The company performs a number of services in the business aviation world. For example, a big insurance company looking to reevaluate its fleet of corporate jets will bring on Mente in an advisory role when evaluating what jets to buy or sell.
Four years ago, Mente Group had four employees, and now has 19. The company is looking to expand, and recently moved its headquarters from Addison to Frisco to support growth.
Brian Proctor spoke with the Dallas Business Journal about his new perspective on life and business, Mente’s role in the industry and what’s next:
How has your outlook changed?
I wouldn’t say it changed everything, but it’s made everything better: my relationship with my wife, my relationship with the kids, the way I run the business, and the way I interact. I’m much more thankful now for the small things. It’s changed my perspective on everything. I feel truly that we were blessed.
Just to see the outpouring of support from friends and family members and competitors in the industry — it was unbelievable. With all of that, I feel like we’ve got an obligation now to do the most we can with what we’ve been given.
For Mente Group, who is your average customer?
We’re pretty broad-based in that we have clients all over the world. We’re about 50-50 high net worth versus Fortune 500 companies. When you look at our transactions, I would say it’s probably 65 to 70 percent corporations just because when they buy, they’re sometimes buying in bulk — two or three airplanes at a time. Usually, high net worth clients are only buying one at a time.
Why role do you serve for your customers? Why can’t they reach out to the manufacturer themselves, or do their own research?
Our approach is fairly unique in that we are agnostic in terms of the delivery for the client. When we’re working with clients, we’re not trying to sell one specific service. We can look at a breadth of options and tell the client, ‘Here are the pros and cons of owning your own airplane versus having a NetJets share.’
Even though they’re very successful in their businesses, they don’t do this on a routine basis. We have a type of fiduciary responsibility to our client to provide them with the best advice that’s not geared around any one solution. We save them about 10 times what we charge.
What part of your company has the highest growth potential?
We are in the process of developing a new utilization platform that we think will potentially change the industry. If that program is as successful as we think, then that’ll eclipse everything we’re doing here.
What does that new platform entail?
A lot of that we can’t discuss yet because we’re still in development. But it’s rethinking how people can access business aircraft.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.