April 29, 2011

The Jetcraft Story, Setting Sights on World Bizav Market Evolution

THE JETCRAFT STORY, Setting Sights on World Bizav Market Evolution (PDF format) »

You know you must be making clients happy when most of your business is either repeat business or referrals from other satisfied clients. That has been the Jetcraft Corporation story for nearly five decades. Just one year shy of 50 years in business, Jetcraft Corporation is today one of only a few companies claiming real longevity in this industry.

For most of those years, the U.S. has been in the vanguard of the bizjet market, but as has been evident for at least the last 10 years, global competition has shaken-up the world economy, and the business jet industry has had to right itself several times to keep pace with seemingly constant market change. And the pace of that change has become a lot faster.

According to Chad Anderson, the recently named President of Jetcraft Corporation (the company’s first since the untimely passing of John Ames nearly three years ago), “Of late, across the board, the economic climate is stabilizing and buyers are re-gaining confidence as is evident with increasing unit sales and general prospecting activity.

“Jetcraft plans to mine this activity for every opportunity possible to benefit our clients, just as we always have. “At times, most every company has to ask the question, ‘As a company, why are we here?’” Anderson added. “Our leadership agrees that our core business remains aircraft acquisitions, sales and brokerage, trades and exchanges, and special assignments including avionics upgrades and retrofits. Now we’re looking to translate these capabilities into international market success.”

INTERNATIONAL UP-TICK

The company has seen a recent up-tick in its international transactions, thanks to the emphasis it has placed on increasing its activity in emerging markets outside of the U.S. According to Jahid Fazal-Karim, co-owner with Bucky Oliver of Jetcraft Corporation, the U.S. is now a mature, stable market where significant growth may not be possible again for some years.

“When Honeywell revisited its most recent Business Aviation Outlook for EBACE incorporating recent performance data,” Fazal-Karim observed, “the report stated that international demand now accounts for more than 50 percent of the new aircraft purchase plans projected over the next five years, and that emerging markets are expected to lead the global recovery after 2010. Jetcraft is naturally expanding and increasing its focus in these areas.”

Fazal-Karim is based in Switzerland, and since 2008 has been charged with growing Jetcraft’s activities in Europe, South America, Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and his efforts are now bearing fruit.

Another within the company to offer a wealth of international experience is Ken Elliott, Jetcraft’s VP of Avionic Systems, who brings his enthusiasm for the avionics side of the business into every client transaction. Elliott believes that its global reach enables Jetcraft to work with clients wherever the business takes them, noting, “We do a lot of sales and acquisitions in Europe, the Far East – even some in Russia. We work the entire global market.

“In fact,” he added, “our Enhanced Flight Vision System (EFVS) is designed for the global market. Although EFVS has been used in flight departments since 2001, it is new to the aftermarket sector, and many global operators are unfamiliar with its purpose, advantages and realistic benefits.

“Jetcraft penetrates the aviation community from all directions with education and information on EFVS. We are actively involved in operational advisory working groups introducing FAA and EU-Ops credits for lower landing, lower take-off, surface movement guidance and other NextGen benefits.

“When operators come to us looking for quantifiable information when considering retrofits or upgrades, Jetcraft can offer our worldwide client-base some 14 general and 25 specific operational business cases on the EFVS,” Elliott revealed. “In the consultative phase of our process, we also consider their operations category and the approaches of the airports they frequently fly to, before tailoring a solution for their upgrade.”

BROADLY SPEAKING…

“In the broadest possible terms, we are in the aircraft acquisitions business,” Anderson quantified. “The process starts when someone who wants an aircraft contacts us to help them find one; most of the time our clients are not aviation experts, therefore our role becomes that of advocate, offering them our experience and credible guidance so they can confidently navigate the acquisition process.

“Whatever step they’re taking, from aircraft operations to financing, we help them avoid potential pitfalls and determine their best options. We want them to be completely comfortable with the transaction, and to understand it, too. That is our role at Jetcraft,” Anderson summarized.

How to go about acquiring an aircraft for a customer depends on many factors. For example, working closely with the acquiring party, Jetcraft will analyze the client’s flying needs, and then determine the best solutions and options. The company also works for clients who must sell an aircraft before another one replaces it, even buying the aircraft for sale if the deal makes business sense. This service is made possible only through rock solid financial strength. If Jetcraft believes in the value and ultimate “sale-ability” of an aircraft, it will acquire it in a trade or exchange transaction for its own inventory, and then hold it until the right buyer appears. This might appear a calculated risk, but is tempered by deep market knowledge. According to Anderson, Jetcraft seldom loses on this strategy.

Sometimes, the mission needs change for an aircraft owner, and Jetcraft will seek to find the best aircraft for their current flight patterns. As broker, Jetcraft prides itself on pairing willing buyers and sellers, striking a deal price, and executing every aspect of the transaction – including tax and legal structuring, financing, maintenance and insurance.

THE RELATIONSHIP BUSINESS

Of course, there may be special assignments, and that’s when industry knowledge and relationships come in to play. As company founder and chairman, Bucky Oliver is fond of saying “We know we can’t be experts at everything, but we know who is across the globe.”

“That frees us to concentrate on deal structuring, and obtain advice from other experts when we need it,” added Anderson, noting “shifts and changes in the industry have made it necessary to strengthen our core business areas over time.

“Jetcraft will always have that pioneering spirit of developing a unique solution, or finding an innovative way to get things done,” Anderson concluded. “Our matrix like structure enables us to bounce ideas off each other until we come up with these solutions. It really is a team effort, in the truest sense.”

Vice President of Sales Victoria Barrow agrees. In her 15-plus-years with the company she has witnessed its evolution first hand, and credits the Jetcraft philosophy with her sales success. In her work with clients overseas, her multilingual skills in French and German have often come to the fore of a transaction to seal the deal.

“You never know what is going to tip a client in your favor in any given transaction,” Barrow outlined. “Whoever first said ‘this is not the airplane business, it is the relationship business,’ got it right. In my time with Jetcraft, I have come to embrace my own definition of what the Jetcraft name means. Jetcraft is simply this – the art behind the science of aircraft acquisition. It’s nothing more than that but most certainly, nothing less.”