At Mente, referrals are at the heart of our business. We live and die by the quality and efficacy of the work we do, and the long-term business relationships we build along the way. The referrals that come from that work ethic fuel our firm – mentally and financially. Our CEO, Brian Proctor, ensures that the firm is guided by heart as well as mind. In fact, that is how the firm was named. Mente is Latin for “with mindfulness or intellect”.
By Jim Lewis, Managing Director, Western Division/Asia
Last year, a principal for a large west-coast firm with whom Mente had previous transaction and consulting services experience reached out with a referral. Soon after, initial contact was made with the new client, consisting of two business partners on opposite sides of the continent who were considering the acquisition of two aircraft to suit their business needs. Until now, their growing mission had been somewhat constrained by primary dependence on charter and their business/personal relationships in the business aviation industry. A change was needed. It was time.
Those initial conversations continued through early August of last year. The Mente Planning and Strategy team went to work internally on feasibility studies to validate timing, mission, cabin needs, and myriad financial considerations. The eventual decision was made to acquire two new Ultra Long-Range jets. In fact, 33% of Mente Group acquisitions are new aircraft from the OEM.
The first of iterative RFP rounds was submitted to two OEMs with an aggressive project timeline and pricing based on our knowledge of the market. Responses were received and evaluated, which shaped the remaining two rounds. The remaining OEM data was collected, pricing, terms and conditions were determined, and two separate Purchase Agreements were fully negotiated (coordinating with the Client’s aviation counsel) and executed by the end of 3Q – taking advantage of quarter-end and maximizing value for our client. Quite literally, nuances of those Purchase Agreements, a direct result of Mente and counsel experience in this business, have been extremely beneficial to the client during this crazy year.
In addition to the transaction capabilities of Mente Group, this client utilized the Completion Monitoring (interior outfitting) services we offer with Vince Restivo, a 26-year veteran in the OEM world of aircraft interior completion. Work progressed on the airframes normally – until the far-reaching effects of COVID took hold. The OEM physically shut down production operations, putting the delivery timing in jeopardy. In addition, border closure issues made viewing the aircraft at critical milestones much more challenging. Obviously, contingencies and extraordinary circumstances like these are precisely when the intellect and experience of Vince’s team have been most valuable and will ensure the project completes and delivers on time – but most importantly, this ensures a final product that the OEM and our client can be assured is flawless.
Mente Group also offers assistance with Management Company evaluation, negotiation and selection. Being first-time owners of business aircraft, these clients have benefitted from our capabilities starting up flight operations, whether that means an embedded flight department or third-party management. In this case, a field of eight firms that met the complex needs of our clients were identified, whittled down to six, and eventually four firms were identified that matched our clients – both operationally and culturally. Because we ensured that those four firms represented the best in the business, final selection was challenging…but there was no wrong choice.
In the end, the aircraft will be completed, Vince’s team will ensure a magnificent, reliable product, and Mente Group will enjoy two more satisfied clients. They will enjoy the operational consulting products we offer that are designed to make Mente Group the only business aviation resource they ever need – for the entire life cycle of the aircraft. As mentioned, the referral is critically important to us. In fact, this successful campaign has already generated another referred Client for whom we will acquire an Ultra Long-Range aircraft.
We’re here for the “what-ifs”. But were here to make it happen. Give us a try.
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.