Dedication to the Industry
“I always think about one thing when considering acquiring a company,” says Kenneth Ricci, Principal of Directional Aviation. “I find out if the company has a unique competitive advantage. If I can’t identify one, it’s not a fit for Directional.”
Kenneth Ricci is all about energy, passion, aviation, opportunities and people. Whether it’s generously supporting charities and nonprofit organizations or building the world’s premier private aviation family, Ricci is all in.
The aviation industry is well known for its ebbs and flows. In good times, aviation companies spring up all over the nation and the world. In bad times, most aviation companies, at best, look to hold their own, but many downsize or disappear altogether. Ricci doesn’t view the bad times as a negative, but rather sees them as opportunities to pursue great companies or ideas that are having a “bad day.” As private aviation was heading into retreat, Ricci doubled down on his commitment to the industry and in so doing has brought together a unique, synergistic family of companies that serve not only private aviation but the world.
As the leader of Directional Aviation, Ricci doesn’t just acquire, he creates. Evidence of this fact is Nextant, which introduced a new industry of remanufacturing aircraft. And in realizing Sentient Jet Charter’s success and seeing opportunities to provide service and expertise for the on-demand charter customer, Ricci re-established the well-known Skyjet brand, launching the new company in 2014.
Critical to Ricci and every business acquisition he pursues is people. A unique individual who is an aviator as well as sophisticated business leader and entrepreneur, Ricci not only pursues great value in businesses, but great value in people. “My father always told me, ‘treat people with class,’” Ricci shares. And to him, that means focusing on client relationships, treating people with respect and making every interaction with Directional Aviation and its companies positive and enjoyable.
Throughout Directional Aviation are individuals who’ve realized the greatest opportunities of their professional lives since becoming part of the family. Ricci seeks individuals with different talents and skills to make Directional Aviation a unique company that protects the passion of its businesses and infuses sound business principles.
Ricci’s enthusiasm for aviation began at a young age and prompted him to pursue a career in aviation. “It’s so much fun to be part of such an exciting industry,” Ricci states. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, as well as the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Ricci learned the business side of aviation in addition to becoming a highly experienced pilot—serving as President Clinton’s pilot when he ran for office in 1992.
Outside of Directional Aviation, Ricci advises the Guggenheim Aero Opportunity Fund, as well as serves on the Business Advisory Council of the University of Notre Dame, the Board of Trustees of University Hospitals, The National Board of Childhelp and Gilmour Academy. “Every day carries an opportunity to make a difference and share yourself, your life and your resources with others,” Ricci states.
For 30 years, Ricci has directed his love of aviation and his business acumen to building and investing in the private aviation industry and will continue to explore the many opportunities that still remain. “I see immense potential and opportunity in the private aviation industry,” explains Ricci. “That’s why we continually seek out opportunities that allow us to expand and play a larger role in this industry.”
Michael A Rossi
Michael Rossi joined Corporate Wings in 1984 and has been a leader in the development of innovative business strategies in the aviation industry. Today, Michael is a principal in Directional Aviation.
As a testament to the long-term relationships Ricci enjoys with the leaders of Directional Aviation, he and Rossi have been personal friends for decades. In fact, Rossi’s father was the original accountant for Directional Aviation.
Rossi’s extensive experience touches on all areas of general aviation, including fixed-base operations, maintenance facilities, management of aircraft and the buying and selling of corporate aircraft. He has also been involved in the purchase and divesting of all the facets of general aviation mentioned above.
In 2005, Rossi served as the Chief Financial Officer of the restructured Mercury Air Centers, where he was instrumental in increasing EBITDA by over 200%, a result of acquisitions and operating efficiencies. Mercury Air Centers’ 24 FBOs were ultimately sold to Macquarie Infrastructure Trust in 2007 in a deal valued at $615 million. Rossi is also active in the accounting firm Rossi, Schlotter & Co., CPA, which has assisted many businesses in the areas of planning and growth. A graduate of John Carroll University, Michael is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Series 7 License.