Nick Cerretani always knew that aviation was going to be a big part of his life.
"I was fascinated with flying at an early age and learned to fly right after college. From my first flight, I loved being around airplanes and aviators, and was sure aviation would be more than a hobby," he says. “About two years later, a friend and I started a part-time flight school and shortly thereafter, became a dealer for Cessna Aircraft. Once I was able to get involved in a professional capacity, I never considered doing anything else.”
After almost 30 years in the industry, Cerretani founded the Cerretani Aviation Group in 2001. Basing his business in Boulder, Colorado, was a no brainer.
After growing up in Binghamton, New York, and discovering rock climbing in the Shawangunk Mountains (the "Gunks") in New Paltz, Cerretani went on a climbing trip to Boulder in 1983. "The first sight of Boulder Valley affected me in the same way as my first flight—I immediately knew I would live here someday. It took me a while, but the sale of our Binghamton based company afforded me the opportunity to make a move, and Boulder was the only option on my list."
While his business could technically exist anywhere (they work with clients around the world), Cerretani believes that it’s easier to attract quality staff in a place like Colorado. He, along with his managing partner Paul Kirby, have worked to create an atmosphere where effectiveness is valued over clocking into an office for a certain number of hours every day. The people who work at Cerretani Aviation Group all have a "similar approach to life values," which includes time spent outdoors.
In the digital world, many of us are expected to be available around the clock, especially if you’re the CEO of a global company. Cerretani says that there are very few situations that are as urgent as they may seem, and it’s okay to not be available 24/7. When he was first getting started, a wise mentor once told him nobody gets to the end of their career and wishes he had spent more time at the office. He has taken that to heart, and appreciates what Colorado’s outdoors has to offer.
Spending time in the mountains gives Cerretani a sense of perspective and keep him grounded. "In the midst of the overwhelming magnitude and immutability of the landscape, it’s easy not to take myself too seriously and stay calm when dealing with the daily challenges life provides us all," he reflects.
The health benefits of exercise and being outside are also an incentive. Studies have shown that getting out of the office, even for a short stroll, can reduce stress, improve short-term memory, focus, and creativity—it can even boost your immune system. In a beautiful place like Colorado, where there are so many opportunities to get out and about, Cerretani says that "it’s easier for me to maintain fitness through outdoor activities than any other method".
Over the last few years, Cerretani has shifted his primary sport from cycling to hiking, but he still enjoys riding up Left Hand Canyon to Ward or Brainard Lake. He spends most his time hiking in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area and at Rocky Mountain National Park. Some of his favorite trails are Pawnee Pass from Brainard Lake, Chasm Lake from the Longs Peak trailhead, and Black Lake and Sky Pond from the Bear Lake Trailhead. For a longer hike, he heads to Mount Alice from the Wild Basin trailhead. When the dogs join the fun, Crosier Mountain and Signal Mountain near Glen Haven are great outings for both the two-legged and four-legged.
Cerretani believes that it’s not actually possible to separate life and work, but instead it’s about embracing how they overlap and recognizing how they might make you a better person. "For example, who I am as a husband and father makes me a better employer. Who I am as an aviator makes me a better climber. Spending time in the mountains makes me a better negotiator. Perspective makes me a better parent." Pursuing balance enhances judgement, improves decision making and benefits all aspects of life.
And it shows. With decades of experience, he has become one of the leading airplane dealers/brokers in the United States, all while spending as much time as possible immersing himself in the serenity and challenge of the mountains. Whether touching the clouds or soaring above them, Nick Cerretani has taken his passion for adventure and dedication to his business to new heights.
Originally written for Colorado.