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Relax, the Jet-Set Life is Only Minutes Away


Paul Kirby loves to hike into the wilderness or pedal his road bike up Boulder Creek. He lives in Boulder because he thrives off Colorado’s majestic mountains and the playground they offer. But as quick as he can get to an airfield, Kirby’s life can switch from laid-back Colorado lifestyle to the fast-paced environment of the jet set. Kirby spends his workweek brokering million-dollar private jet deals around the world, servicing the type of people who don’t like waiting in airport security lines and can spend a few million dollars to avoid them. Kirby, director of sales and acquisitions at Boulder-based Cerretani, spends his time meeting with clients and flying around the country to help foster these deals.

But he’s just a pilot geek at heart, much like the rest of the five-person office and loves to fly whenever he gets the chance.
When he was 15, a demo flight got him hooked on being a pilot.

“My first flight was more exciting than anything else. At 15 you don’t really know enough to be scared,” says Kirby. “Mostly I remember excitement and a kind of an awe factor.”

In college (he graduated from the University of Colorado in 2001 with a political science degree), he spent most of his time away from the books and on the tarmac, giving rides to numerous skydivers as a part-time job.

Kirby was the kid who said he wanted to be a pilot when he grew up (which little boy didn’t?), and is living out that dream thanks to Cerretani, a company he joined four years ago after finding success selling Cessna and other small planes on his own.

“New time buyers are my favorite to work with,” Kirby says. “For a new buyer, we’ll go out and identify the airplane that would best suit their mission requirements.

“Generally they have some idea of what they want or their friend may have something similar. All of this is dictated by what they want to spend; their budget really drives their available options.”

Cerretani caters to the business set, working with corporations that value the time they spend away from airports over any amount of money the trip will cost.

Customers in need of a private jet outline their needs and leave it up to Cerretani to find it—and if they can’t find it, they’ll create it. Banks with repossessed planes, or owners looking to get the 50,000-pound weight off their chest without fixing it up, contact Kirby and sell their planes cheap.

It can take upwards of a few hundred thousand dollars to upgrade the jet properly to the jet-set standard.

The sky is the limit when it comes to these upgrades, so long as luxurious add-ons don’t interfere with FAA regulations. Cerretani has added sleek, light blue interiors here, leather seats there, and surround sound systems that rival an IMAX theater.

A hot tub is out. But DirectTV and high-speed Internet—at a cost of $45 a minute—are available and sought after upgrades.

But what’s $45 a minute when you’re already spending $10 million on a jet that seats 12, with the ability to usher you around the world at your command and costs $1 million a year to maintain?

To find the clients who can drop that kind of cash, Kirby has wooed Dubai oil tycoons, Hollywood bigwigs and those at the top of corporate America.

“You get a lot of calls at odd times of the day,” Kirby says. “It’s pretty amazing the number of Europeans, and especially Middle-Easterners who have adapted to a U.S. time frame.

“It’s pretty amazing the ease of conversation being so far away; it’s as though they are just down the street.”

The oil industry drives much of the market, and demands that Kirby be prepared to integrate cultures in his sales methods. Up to 40 percent of Cerretani’s sales happen overseas—it’s a global business for the small outfit with meager offices on 5th and Canyon.

Kirby gets a glimpse of the jet-set life even though he doesn’t own a plane himself. And that’s just fine—it would get in the way of biking, camping and spending time with his wife and dogs.

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