Meet Jim Lara, Founder & Principal
Founder and Principal of Gray Stone Advisors, Jim Lara has been passionate about aviation since childhood.
Since 1996, Jim has transformed Gray Stone into a full-service business aviation consulting firm. Combining his 40+ years as a pilot with his corporate experience, Jim speaks the language of business as well as the business of aviation.
His vast expertise and hands-on approach have helped Business Aviation leaders to develop high-performing individuals and teams, align those teams with their enterprise's goals, and enable operations to regain stability, traction and profitability.
Born in Germany, Jim's introduction to aviation began at age 10 when he took his first flight. In the 1950's, he began building and flying line-controlled model airplanes and earned his own wings in 1972. Since then, he has logged over 12,000 hours worldwide.
Jim entered the corporate arena in 1968 as a Manager of Marketing Systems Development at Levi Strauss & Co. At this time in his life, aviation remained a passion and, during the last few months he was at Levi, he continued his flying pursuits with a part-time night job flying checks from Oakland to Reno and back, allowing him to both progress in his career while honing his skills as a pilot at the same time.
Jim left Levi in 1974 to become VP and General Manager for Detroit-based Handleman Company. In this role, he reported directly to the CEO where he gained first-hand C-level experience for the first time. In 1986, Jim was recruited to lead the business aviation and travel operations for Brunswick Boat Group. It was here that he had the idea of founding Gray Stone Advisors, seeing an opportunity to tackle intractable situations and develop innovative solutions for the business aviation industry.
In 2004, he was recruited as President & COO of MedAire. While at the helm, Jim turned it into a global leader of fully integrated medical and health services to remote travelers worldwide. After MedAire's rebound under Jim's leadership, he left in 2007 to dedicate his time to further growing Gray Stone Advisors.
Since 1996, Gray Stone has grown from a small firm that worked with just one company at a time for a period of one-to-three years each, to a purely aviation-focused consultancy that now focuses on a number of clients simultaneously for a more limited duration, utilizing multiple practitioners. This allows Gray Stone to reduce its dependence upon any single client and provide a diversity of focus. Jim himself continues to travel to corporate clients across the globe.
In addition to his degree from San Francisco State University, Jim performed post-graduate studies at Stanford University, Southern Methodist University, Northwestern (The Kellogg School), Thunderbird University and the University of Virginia. Jim is a member of the ABS, AOPA and NBAA, where he has held several leadership positions on the NBAA Safety Committee. He is also a member of several professional societies and community organizations.
To schedule a meeting with Jim or to discuss speaking engagements, please contact him at 865.357.5077 or send a request.