Selling another side of the business

Published: 06 Nov 2017


Starting in sales, Richard Emery has built a wealth of experience in marketing and management, and as chief operating officer of the Mente Group has seen a big jump in the size of the used aircraft market.

How did you get started in aviation?

I began work in 1989 for the North American sales team at Canadair Challenger. Three years later, I moved into marketing and strategy for K-C Aviation, which at the time was the largest independent completions business in the industry. Next, I went to Bombardier, where I managed an 11-state territory in the south eastern USA before moving to Avolar, which was United Airlines’ attempt at starting a fractional ownership business. In 2002, I became vice-president, sales for Gulfstream, and from 2010 I worked for Hawker Beechcraft as part of the management team, taking the company through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and its sale to Textron. From there I moved to aircraft consultancy and brokerage Mente.

What attracted you to working with Mente Group?

I’ve known the chief executive, Brian Proctor, since he came into the business 15 years ago. Brian would bring clients to the manufacturers and we would negotiate aircraft transactions. We developed a good relationship because we each appreciated how the other handled the transactions. For years, we would regularly discuss the industry over a cup of coffee or lunch. After I left Hawker Beechcraft, Brian approached me with an interesting concept that he was developing.

What do you enjoy most about the role from day to day?

Growing a business is about having a vision and a great team. Most importantly it’s people who make a business successful. Often change is required for a company to achieve its goals, and I enjoy working in an evolving business environment. My strength is understanding the skill-sets in our organisation, attracting complementary talent, and ensuring that everyone is put into a role in which they can be successful.

What trends are you seeing in the pre-owned market?

It’s a very model-specific market. Prices for some aircraft are firming up, such as the large-cabin Dassault Falcon 2000EX and LX and the Gulfstream G450, and activity in this sector is increasing. However, the market for other types is either flat or declining. There continues to be a significant amount of options out there for buyers, and we continue to believe this is one of the strongest buyer’s markets we have seen.

Where do you see expansion happening in the next five years?

There are definitely some parallels between expansion in the market and in Mente’s business. We recently launched a tool, Mente Aircraft Valuation Service, to help customers obtain accurate values at their fingertips. We also see opportunity in our technical consulting practice with new international standard for business aircraft operations requirements and completion and refurbishment oversight. International markets will become more active in the next 12-24 months. The bottom line is that the pre-owned aircraft market is a larger part of business aviation than it has ever been.

Do you have any advice for young people trying to get into the aviation industry?

Traditionally, young folk have entered this market through the technical side of the business -– as a pilot or engineer, for example. As the industry has matured, it has created opportunities to enter through other avenues, such as finance and strategy. I would advise young candidates interested in aviation that there are many ways to learn the business and become successful. For example, Cole White, our director of strategic consulting, is a graduate of the US military academy, West Point, and came to us with no aviation experience. For the past year, we have taught him how to do fleet plans and feasibility studies. He has also attended meetings with OEMs so he can learn how to ask the right questions. Cole is now pursuing a Masters degree in aviation, and within two years he will be well versed in all the OEM products, and will fully understand the dynamics of the pre-owned aircraft market.

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