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Q+A: PAUL SALLACH:

Flight school owner: Business is a roller coaster, so don’t jump off

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Paul Sallach is president and owner of All In Aviation.

Mon, Nov 23, 2020 (2 a.m.)

Paul Sallach’s parents and grandparents wanted him to be a third-generation pastor, but his vision for his future had a bird’s-eye view.

“I knew I did not want a desk job, so I looked for an exciting career that could also be financially rewarding,” said Sallach, president and owner of All In Aviation, a flight school. “I thought it would be cool to travel around the world and get paid for it, and hoped I liked it once I graduated from college.”

So Sallach, at 17, enrolled at the University of North Dakota and began his training as a pilot. These days, despite the pandemic, he and his wife, Lindsay, who is also a pilot, flight instructor and owner of their business, are busier than ever.

How has the pandemic affected your company? 

Becoming a pilot takes two things — time and money. Our customers certainly had the money, but now with less activity happening in the world, it’s allowed them the time to accomplish their bucket list wishes. We believe more free time, coupled with the current state of airline travel and its obvious challenges, is the reason our flight training enrollment has surged. Because of our growth, we’ve hired eight new employees, including three flight instructors, and expanded our fleet by 30% to accommodate the student demand for training hours. 

Do you have any news you’d like to share?

In April, we opened a major aviation complex at the Henderson Executive Airport along with our aircraft maintenance partner, Lone Mountain Aviation. A dream four years in the making, the facility is the first-ever purpose-built, multiuse aviation complex of its kind at HND. We built to serve the growing needs of the general aviation community in the south valley.

Then in May, I was recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as Nevada’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2020. It’s such a great honor to be recognized for my contribution to the business community and achievements as an entrepreneur.

Within your fleet, what is your favorite aircraft to fly? 

Flying the new SF50, Cirrus’ take on the world’s first personal jet — is really cool, but the SR22 is a prop plane that flies lower and slower, allowing you to really enjoy the journey and take in the sights below you. Within our fleet we have a Cirrus SR22 with the tail number 816LP, which bears the wedding anniversary date and initials for me and my wife. Obviously, I love Cirrus — it’s on my license plate — but getting to fly your own personalized aircraft is a special feeling. 

What’s the majority of your customer base? 

Pre-pandemic, 20% of our business was transient customers. I expect that to return, but most of our customers are people who have achieved some level of success in their life and have “become a pilot” on their bucket list. The expectation is that we are delivering a premium experience versus what other local flight schools and aircraft rental companies offer. We also attract a number of younger students whose parents make the decision based on safety, since Cirrus planes are the most technologically advanced and safest aircraft on the market. Many of these students are career-oriented with plans to become a commercial pilot and have decided to forego a university education. Their parents had the money saved up for college, but this is a career that doesn’t require a college degree. 

What skills and characteristics do you look for when hiring flight instructors? 

The biggest thing we are looking for is someone who can sit shoulder to shoulder with our clients. They have to be able to carry on a conversation, possess a certain level of maturity, and a depth of knowledge that is respected by our customers. A lot of what we do requires exceptional interpersonal skills. Instructors must have the know-how, but they also have to be someone our customers want to hang out with. They are flying in the cockpit for a long time with our students, and they need to be able to get along well with them.

What is your most memorable moment from flight training? 

The most memorable experience of my flight training in college was when I got to pilot my first long flight — from Grand Forks to Minneapolis, that ended with a dinner at a famous high-end Italian restaurant in St. Paul. As a 19-year-old kid, it was very exciting to get the chance to fly a Baron aircraft and ride in the Jaguar crew car to the restaurant. Now at All In Aviation, we offer very a similar experience — Destination Flight Training. It’s not just about taking off, flying in circles, and landing. It’s about the longer journey of flying to a destination, over scenic locales and enjoying the full experience. 

Has there been an impact on business with the Raiders headquarters down the street? 

I can’t say we’ve seen a quantifiable impact directly related to the Raiders proximity, however the entire industrial complex in this surrounding area has really grown, and a lot of those new businesses do have transportation needs. NFL teams typically go big, and we are more small-business oriented, but I do think the Raiders have indirectly given a boost to this part of town. There is certainly more business activity in the area, and I think that’s due to the excitement that’s happening here. 

Has “normal” forever changed, or will you aim to get back to what normalcy was pre-pandemic? 

We hope the transient traffic and convention business returns to normal so we can have people from all over the world land in Vegas and want to experience what only we can offer. We also hope that the interest in general aviation and flight training continues to grow beyond the pandemic. After the new year, we look forward to launching a ground school program in our new classroom at the HND facility, which we plan to offer to aviation students across the country.

How do you give back to the community? 

We participate in a number of nonprofit events throughout the community by either attending and participating in charity events, galas or golf tournaments, or by donating to their silent or live auctions. We’ve supported dozens of organizations including Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, Women’s Resource Center, Opportunity Village, Communities in Schools of Nevada, Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Best Buddies, Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Cops for Kids, Children’s Heart Foundation and Nevada Public Radio.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received? 

I’ve learned over the years to consider the business opportunities that are right in front of you, and not to ignore the obvious. I think that’s very true of why we built the complex at HND. We noticed a need that wasn’t being fulfilled and went for it. Don’t think too “pie in the sky,” but instead look at what’s right within your realm of influence and focus on those opportunities.

Do you have any advice for aspiring pilots? 

Times are rough right now, but this is an industry that goes up and down. Like Dave Ramsey says, “the only people who get hurt on a roller coaster are those who jump off.” So, don’t jump off because it’s going to come back up. And while you’re waiting, the best thing to do is focus on becoming the best professional and well-rounded individual you can be. 

With the holidays approaching, what is something that you’re thankful for? 

I’m most thankful for the people who work for us, who really bust their butts and go “all in” to help the cause. This is not a one-man-band. It takes a team and I’m thankful for the people around me who make it happen.

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