VistaJet Founder on Why He Never Gave up
Liz Claman welcomes Thomas Flohr to the FBN Suite Spot. The VistaJet chairman and founder reveals the career risks that really paid off!
Claman: Thomas, you started a private jet company, not easy to do. What was the biggest risk you took?
Flohr: Well, I think about a year into it, I had two airplanes and they were simple metallic with a red stripe -- and people loved my product. And I felt that the market didn’t have a global brand. And I went out and bought 3 brand new airplanes. It was about 2005, and I thought, “Oh my God, what is going to happen if that is not going to work, if they are not going to get the same customer occupation as my first two airplanes?” Now, 10 years later, 3 airplanes is what we take per month in deliveries. But at that crucial point, I was a newcomer to that industry. My background is asset finance, and I felt if this would ever work out, I think I am going to be onto something big.
Claman: Well, you [took] a big risk, and you got a big reward. Although at any point in any of your careers that you’ve had, did you ever feel like quitting? And what kept you from quitting?
Flohr: Well, I think the more pressure and the more tighter it gets … I think the more focus I have, the more calmer I get. I don’t think it was in the ’08-09 time frame, when other people thought about maybe quitting or not quitting. I think I had even more focus. I think that quitting in a career point is when you start to get bored, and when you’re not having any challenges any more. And you think, “Well, what can I contribute to an industry, if we’re there?”
But, we’re nowhere near [that] situation at VistaJet. I think we’re growing in every continent around the world. We want to make this place, called planet Earth, a service zone where you don’t pay any more for any empty legs. And you just fly from A to B to C -- around the world, that’s my goal. I think we’re going to be there soon. With a recent entry in the U.S., we have entered the biggest marketplace in private aviation. But quitting, really, I think would only ever come in if you’ve reached a point of satisfaction where you can’t grow anymore.
Claman: Well maybe you’ll reach that, maybe you’ll always want to grow VistaJet bigger and bigger.