Aviate Aviation: From selling Cessna 172s to Challenger 300s
Moving from the fashion industry to business aviation seems like an unlikely career path. But it’s one that is paying off for Lawrence Binns, founder and CEO of Aviate Aviation. Binns and co-founder, Sabur Quazi, launched the company three years ago to build a boutique private aviation company.
“The minute I got into aviation, I absolutely loved it,” Binns told Corporate Jet Investor. “Walking around my first NBAA show in Orlando in 2017 was an unforgettable experience, which would change my life forever.”
After a career in fashion, Binns worked in advertising and marketing, leading key projects for big brands such as Starbucks. Binns worked in the aviation industry in a different capacity for two years. During this time, he met Sabur Quazi, who had been a senior manager and vice president in private equity and international banking, who invited him to start a new business aviation venture – Aviate Aviation. At first the company focused on private charter. “We wanted to create a company that was more of a boutique style aviation company,” said Binns.
However, the focus of the business changed after Quazi heard that several flying schools in Southeast Asia were looking to buy Cessna 172 single-engine training aircraft. Binns said: “We found a couple of excellent sellers in the US who deal with nothing but Cessna 172s. We really wanted to start as a private charter company, but the moment we started looking for Cessna’s for flight schools, we were in the sales and acquisition business, our business completely changed.”
Two years later, Aviate Aviation, is a boutique aviation company, dealing in the sales and acquisition of pre-owned aircraft that operate on the international stage. After his three-year stint in aviation marketing, Binns has a wealth of contacts around the globe and a work ethic to match. “I have never worked so hard in my life,” Binns told CJI. “I always work seven days a week, because that is what the industry dictates and to be successful that is what it takes. But what makes us unique and why people want to work with us is: First, we make every deal smooth, professional and transparent. Second, you won’t have to wait until 2pm the next day to get a response from us, but instead will smile when you see the reply at 4am.”
Despite operating almost solely during the global pandemic, Aviate Aviation has achieved significant growth. The company’s clients are mostly individuals and companies who were accustomed to private flying, rather than new entrants, who wanted to upgrade to bigger pre-owned aircraft to meet their respective needs. “We have had to work smarter, longer and quicker and many times, we have had to be creative in order to find sellers (and buyers) to finalise our deals,” said Binns. “One sale we are most proud of is a Challenger CL300 sold from a Turkish client, which was handled over several time-zones, for months. The moment when we thought the deal wouldn’t go through, we managed to revive it and close it.”
Binns believes their vast network plus their work ethic and personal rapport with players within the industry, will help them to continue growing. “We have many clients in the US and Europe who are very big players, and of course, they could do it all without us,” he said. “But they come to us because they know we will handle their transactions professionally on their behalf, taking the weight off their already hectic schedules. We will represent them, and everything they need will get done properly and in a timely fashion.”