Leading Edge ‘proud’ of 1,000 aircraft transactions

Joe Carfagna, Leading Edge Aviation Solutions, celebrates 1000 aircraft transactions.

Joe Carfagna Jr. celebrates 1,000 aircraft transactions since his father founded Leading Edge in 1989.

Reaching the milestone of 1,000 turbine aircraft transactions made for “an exciting countdown” but for Joe Carfagna Jr. and his Leading Edge Aviation Solutions team it was “business as usual” in their quest for deals and client satisfaction.

Three Gulfstream deals hit the landmark for the company which was founded in 1989 by Joseph Carfgana Sr.

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“We have always prided ourselves as being one of the brokerage firms that’s been around the longest and this number is a testament to that,” Carfagna Jr. told Corporate Jet Investor.

“We realised 1,000 was probably something that was going to happen in the next few years so we made a big deal of it.

“It was exciting to count down as we got very close, but it was just business as usual.”

‘Can’t buy experience’

 The 998th, 999th and 1,000th transactions were for Gulfstream G450s for repeat clients.

“In 1994 when I came onboard, we were a very different company – there was no email or internet, so everything moved at a much slower pace, but the principles of what we do are still the same,” added Carfagna Jr, who is based in New Jersey, USA.

“We put a very high importance on making our clients so happy that they’re proud to refer us to their friends.”

Among the 1000 transactions, Leading Edge has completed deals on 242 Gulfstreams, 225 Cessna Citations, 131 Hawkers, 126 Bombardier Challenger and Globals and 121 Dassault Falcons.

[The secret is] doing things methodically and having good people. You can’t buy experience,” said Carfgana Jr.

Jack Nicklaus

His father began his life in business aviation in 1967 when he joined Bill Lear to sell new airplanes in the north east of the US. One of his first sales was to the golfer Jack Nicklaus. Carfagna Sr. set up Executive Air Fleet (EAF) in 1970 and then Wings Aviation International in 1989, which eventually became Leading Edge Aviation Solutions.

Carfagna Jr. can still remember the first deal he did after joining his father in 1994.

“It was the sale of a Citation 3,” he says. “It was a moment that I won’t forget any time soon. The person we sold it to, we have sold several more airplanes to over the years.”

After all this time in the industry, Carfagna Jr. says he is rarely fazed by anything. “There really isn’t much we haven’t seen – we’ve bought and sold airplanes all over the world, of all different types and as a result when you’ve been around this long not much comes as a surprise,” he says.

‘Needs to be sold’

Of all the deals, though, one particular transaction sticks out. “We were negotiating a deal on the sale of an airplane in September 2008, right after the financial crash, and the parties were arguing over who was to get the china and flatware in the airplane,” he says.

“I advised the client to give them everything they wanted because it was going to be worth a lot less money in a week. I think we saved the client $8m over that. If they had deliberated another few days, it probably would have fallen apart. I just remember thinking, ‘This airplane needs to be sold, the money needs to be wired asap or this deal will never happen.’”

Carfagna Jr. is “fascinated” by the technological advancements in airplanes but after hanging some old sales posters at his offices he notes that manufacturers’ ambitions haven’t changed.

“The vintage ads for airplanes in the 60s and 70s all said the same thing, ‘We will fly you more efficiently, more quietly, at a cheaper cost and faster than our competitors and that’s still what they’re striving to do. They’re just getting better and better at it.”

 For Carfagna Jr., business aviation is in the blood but while he is proud of the legacy it is the future transactions that drive him.

 “Winning the next deal is something that motivates me, all of us, and creating a happy client,” said Carfagna Jr. “Those two things are the primary drivers of what makes me tick and keep doing this.”