Janine Iannarelli is the Founder and President of Par Avion Ltd (www.ParAvionLtd.com). She has more than 30 years of business aviation experience representing numerous corporations and private individuals worldwide with the sale and purchase of business aircraft.
What is your “backstory”?
I am one of just a few certified woman-owned aircraft sales businesses in aviation. A pioneer in international aircraft sales, I am widely recognized as a purveyor of preowned Dassault Falcon Jets. I serve as Chair of the Governor of Texas’ committee on Aerospace and Aviation, Chair of the European Business Aviation Association’s Associate Member’ Sales & Acquisition Committee and named as a go-to resource for the media by the National Business Aviation Association.
My aviation career commenced as a researcher at a company formed by a woman entrepreneur that specialized in the gathering of data on business/private aircraft that was then sold to the trade. I became the first hire for the company the AMSTAT Corporation who today is one of two providers of research within the business aviation industry. The job led to a position in sales where I became responsible for sourcing new customers and managing existing relationships.
I found myself on the road at least fifty percent of the time meeting face to face with our customer base and broadening my exposure and network in the industry. It offered an insider’s view of the aircraft sales industry which greatly intrigued me.
After receiving several unsolicited job offers, I elected to join an aircraft dealer who specialized at the time in the Learjet product line and it was this company that brought me to Houston.
Initially, the job was to help establish an in-house research department, but within a year I was being integrated into the sales side. The job entailed quite a bit of travel and interface with a variety of vendors, manufacturers, aviation authorities and of course the existing and prospective client base. It was with this company that I learned the business of aircraft sales from the ground up.
There was a heavy emphasis on the technical side of a transaction as one partner was a pilot and a licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic of A & P as it is more commonly referred to. Gaining this technical knowledge and recognition of key maintenance drivers that influence the outcome of a deal has been of particularly great importance in the building of my career as transactions can stop dead in their tracks at this stage of the purchase process.
Working for an aircraft dealer was the ideal platform from which I was able to build my own company as I developed the skill sets needed to not only survive but differentiate myself within the industry.
Par Avion Ltd. was born out of a desire to control my destiny whether that was time or fortunes. My career has taken me from one end of the world to the other in search of opportunities and afforded me the privilege to meet people and develop relationships across so many levels.
It was a natural outcome that cross-border transactions would become a specialty of Par Avion and I become known for bridging the cultural divide. Through my company not only have I been able to continue to build business and relationships around the world, but as well become a voice in the industry.
Why did you found your company?
The desire to form Par Avion was driven by the desire to achieve independence — certainly financial independence — but freedom to carve my own destiny. Both in turn allow me the other freedom I wanted which was to use time to my own benefit and pursue other endeavors that did not fit nicely into a 9–5 box.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
From the beginning I was always focused on providing a higher level of sales support and transparency.
Twenty years ago, a client was not so involved in the sales process outside of committing to an agent or a particular airplane. Quite frankly there are key markers throughout the course of a pre-purchase inspection for example that I would educate my clientele about and to them they became revelations. What’s that old saying about you don’t know what you don’t know?
I felt greater transparency in all aspects of the transaction, particularly as pertains to the allocation of financial resources was and is extremely important.
Today, I continue to push for greater transparency and an evolution among sales professionals. That would include some form of accreditation and validation of one’s credentials before they hung out a shingle calling themselves an aircraft broker.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
Diane Wilson was my first boss in the aviation industry and an amazing woman who built a business and lead a company at a time that there were no women who occupied a white-collar position in the industry.
David Eickhoff was the single most influential person in my career and to some degree in my personal growth. Dave taught me all that he could about the industry and fostered my education in aviation otherwise. I refer to him as the Will Rogers of business aviation as he always offered sage advice on business and life.
How are you going to shake things up next?
Age is a wonderful thing as it offers a new form of freedom…to speak your mind and not be so concerned about the ramifications. I am using that freedom and my platform as a leader in the industry to push the agenda of promoting qualified women into leadership positions and opening up seats on the boards of public traded companies.
Diversification is a topical subject, but there is little other than token evidence of actual implementation in the bizav sector.
An experience I recently had in the course of being courted by a national head-hunting firm for a board position with a company that had a nexus to business aviation made me realize that while they want to fill the seat with a woman, they did not want a strong woman in the role. What is everyone so afraid of?
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Listen — One of the key skills that my former employer helped me to focus on was listening. He often said that listening was much harder than speaking. Not just hearing, but really absorbing what the other person was saying so you could accurately answer their question, solve a problem or glean a fact that would help you with a sale.
An illustrative example I had was how a casual conversation about airplanes morphed into an opportunity of a sale. I had been up in Colorado for three weeks horse-showing and while there I took the opportunity to visit with other brokers including one who asked that I come look at an airplane he was having difficulty selling. Little did I know that visit to the airplane and the flight department would lead me to my next deal.
Driving back to Houston, I stopped off in a resort town called Horse Show Bay to visit with some friends and their acquaintances where I met three newly minted oil millionaires who were discussing how a King Air would be a great airplane for them to commute with. Except their needs exceeded the range and purpose of that King Air and clearly a jet would be a better fit. It dawned on me that the airplane that I had just looked at in Colorado would be the perfect solution and actually end up costing less than the King Air they had been entertaining. Initially listening carefully to the Seller of the airplane and then these potential buyers lead to the perfect deal where both parties walked away happy.
Presentation — First impressions are everything, but so is cultivating an image and maintaining a standard. It was drilled into me from early on that one’s style of dress, conduct and mannerisms leave lasting impressions. As a salesperson I have always taken it quite seriously to not just be appropriately attired, but that my airplanes are presented in the best possible light. Once when selling a larger version of a particular model of jet to a company who was considering stepping up from the smaller version, I orchestrated a parking arrangement that would catch everyone’s attention. I had the for-sale aircraft strategically parked so that it was first in line next to the entrance to the fixed base operator’s lounge and left enough space to its left so the arriving smaller jet could be parked right next to it. It could not go unnoticed that as one deplaned and walked around the arriving jet to the other parked aircraft the difference in size which translates into comfort. It was not ease of viewing that I had in mind, but rather to impress. Strategic positioning enhanced the presentation.
One can’t be all things to all people. I once asked my boss why did we not lease or charter any of the aircraft we offered for sale? Or manage aircraft? Or build a fixed base operation that we could hangar and office out of? The answer was that we do one thing really well and we should continue to strive to do it better than anyone else. Too many times in the business aviation industry what looks like a natural offspring of your core business in realty becomes a drain on resources. This is a capital intensive business where profits in one area could easily be eaten up in another. Staying focused and practicing the business we were good at kept the company going through good and bad economic times. Coming to terms early on in my career that staying focused on just selling helped me to not worry about what everyone else was doing and to spend more time on the details of my job. It in part has contributed to my being able to confidently and successfully to build my career and at times tell someone I don’t “deal” in that type of airplane.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
The Outliers. I adhere to the theory of perfect practice makes perfect, I just never knew how many repetitions were associated with mastering a skill. The book validated so many things that I had experienced and explained in part my commitment to excellence. Reading this book made me further appreciate my investment of time in just about everything I did and take my already driven self to work harder.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Christiane Amanpour, the journalist who rose to fame with CNN. For me she embodies a strong, successful, professional woman who was not just a pioneer in international broadcasting, but extremely brave. I feel a sense of kinship for I imagine that we have both found ourselves in strange and at times dangerous territory, but we come out of it with a really good story.