By Shari Valenta
Pat Searle and Jim Riner co-own Front Range Aviation. They’re friendly, easy-going men that have 28 years of combined knowledge in the market-–buying, selling and leasing primarily pre-owned turboprop engine and jet aircraft. They focus chiefly on Beechcraft King Airs, Piper Cheyennes, Learjet and Astra/Gulfstream lines.
Initial customer contact is typically via telephone and Internet before meeting directly with the customer. If you know Riner and Searle, you know they’re straightforward and not likely to give you the runaround. They’re also very committed to answering their calls.
“It’s a 24/7 business,” said Searle. “There will be days that we’re on the phone well into the evening. Or, in the case of Far East deals, we could be on the phone in the middle of the night. It’s just the nature of the business. The nice thing is that we’re accessible; either Jim or I will pick up the phone.”
Besides brokerage services, the two will locate the aircraft that best suits your needs, negotiate the terms of acquisition, and oversee the pre-purchase inspection and filing of necessary documentation. You won’t find Front Range Aviation’s offices at an airport; instead, they’re located in the modest sized town of Castle Rock, Colo. Riner says it’s a good way to keep overhead down and location isn’t important when selling airplanes.
“Theoretically, we can sell airplanes anywhere,” said Riner. “The average individual who’s looking for a corporate aircraft is probably somewhere other than at your airport and typically doesn’t walk through your door and spontaneously buy an $8 million airplane. We’re near Denver, which is pretty accessible to the country. We also have a very active business aviation community, so it’s a great place to be.”
Prior to becoming business partners, Riner received his flight training through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. After graduation, Searle hired him to work with a previous employer based in Rochester, N.Y. Riner worked there for eight years and Searle for 10.
“Early on, we learned the business as researchers from the ground up, and then we gradually moved into sales,” said Searle. “Our goal was to try to find and buy airplanes for our inventory. To do this, we called on aircraft owners. I called on Piper Cheyenne owners and maintained constant contact with them. Jim kept in contact with Beechcraft King Air owners.”
He laughed and said that to reach some of those aircraft owners they used to have to call Brazil and try to speak Portuguese.
“We had absolutely no clue what we were saying,” he said. “We had a program where you typed in a sentence and it would do a conversion. But if something like ‘I like to fish’ was typed in, something would probably come back more like, ‘My wife is a fish.’ You never knew if it was accurate or not.”
These days, they use interpreters if needed. The two fell in love with Colorado after a 1995 relocation of their New York employer. In May 2000, Searle started Front Range Aviation. Riner later joined him, becoming co-owner in November 2001.
“We had worked together for seven years previously, so it was natural that we decided to go into business together,” he said. We knew how each other operated and were comfortable working together.”
Riner says it was a good decision.
“We truly enjoy what we do and having great working relationships with customers and other brokers in the business,” said Riner.
Why not just sell or buy an aircraft yourself?
“That’s like a guy who says, ‘I’m going to sell my airplane; maybe I’ll do it myself, or have my pilot do it for me,'” said Riner. “It’s similar to asking the kid that mows your lawn to sell your house. He may be familiar with how to run a lawn mower, but how good is he in the housing market? There’s a benefit to hiring a quality airplane dealer, because there’s so much information out there that people need somebody who’s in the industry to decipher it all.”
Looking to buy, sell or lease a turboprop or jet? Call Riner or Searle at Front Range Aviation to speak to the experts directly.
Front Range Aviation is located at 510 Wilcox Street in Castle Rock. For more information, call 720-733-0198 or visit [http://www.FrontRangeAviation.com].