As the first quarter of 2013 draws to a close I am reminded that reporting for that period will soon be due, not to mention federal income tax filing here in the United States. Both are means by which business owners and individuals alike take inventory of their professional and personal financial status, serving to remind one of where you are and what needs to be done to improve upon the situation. The end of this quarter falls on a holiday weekend which affords me a bit of time to reflect upon not just what has transpired in these past three months, but as well the past year.
A little late you may say for most would have looked at last year on December 31st and kissed it goodbye then. Well, sorry, but I needed a bit more time to digest the past and embrace the future. 2012 served as my long winter of discontent and no one is happier than I to have put that year behind me. Since my blog is meant to focus on business aviation I will stay true to that subject and regal you with tales of overcoming adversity in the world of aircraft sales. As a survivor coming out on the backside of what has been a protracted downturn in the aviation industry, I can tell you that aircraft sales are not for the faint of heart.
As we started the year, among the questions that were continuing to be asked was how to help an industry bounce back when we are struggling through an economic recovery in the U.S., a continued downturn in Europe, a deep breath being drawn in some of the BRIC countries and a government that from time to time chooses to revile users of business aircraft? How does one overcome public perception that owning an airplane makes you inherently evil? How do you convince those potential buyers that can afford and have a need for a business aircraft to return to the market and help start this great engine once again? These are the questions that plagued my peers and me as we hung in there and continued to practice our trade as best we could while faced with ever diminishing returns. Well, if I knew the quick answer I’d be a millionaire and probably writing a novel on a beach and not a blog on a commuter jet.
What I do know is what I was taught and that was when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Part of what it took was just simply being able to wait it out. While doing so the other part was to put your nose to the grindstone and work. Work hard and long and throughout the highs and lows that come with this business. Innovation, cooperation, and simply being better analysts and risk managers helped many in the sales trade weather the past few years. One common sentiment I heard over and over is enough of the bull and more of the straight talk because who had any time to waste in this trying business environment. And while we did what we could our potential customers were quietly waiting in the wings for the moment that it felt right to step back into the marketplace.
Do I hear a whisper out there that perhaps as the year progresses could turn into a roar? Could it be that we are on the cusp of change? The U.S. stock market doesn’t seem to know any way but up. The business papers frequently report on companies that are now willing to make an investment in much needed equipment, expansion and presumably people. Sometimes I wonder if perception is half the battle. If the mainstream media says it is so, it seems everyone is ready to believe it is so.
While aircraft sales remain spotty this first quarter, I cautiously would like to say there seems to be a growing interest in at least one particular sector of the business aviation resale marketplace. It has caught my attention that small jets, 15 years +/- in age, in a turn-key no excuse condition and priced in the $1.250-3.00MM area are suddenly moving. My company presently has a nice selection of small to mid-size to large jets, among which classics and relatively young equipment are represented, and the focus on the part of the buyers is all about the small jet.
Baptismal by fire. You don’t know what you are made of until you are tested. This is what separates the men from the boys. I’ve heard every cliché there is to describe what survival is all about. I agree with Nietzsche and Kelly Clarkson that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Even gold and silver are refined and purified by fire.