VREF Aircraft Value Reference & Appraisal Services, was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Des Moines with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and St. Louis. VREF delivers aircraft and engine data through online subscription services and published quarterly digests. VREF provides valuations, appraisals and advisory services to a world-wide client base of aviation professionals including, banks, financial institutions, lessors, manufacturers, aircraft operators and suppliers. VREF Aircraft Value Reference & Appraisal Services plays a key role in informing decisions and identifying opportunities within the aviation industry. VREF is the official Valuation Guide and Appraisal company for the AOPA.
Meet the VREF Team
Jason Zilberbrand, President & CTO
Jason Zilberbrand is the President and CTO of VREF. Jason was born into aviation as his family founded Jet Support Services Inc. (JSSI) in 1989 and he worked for Jet Support Services Inc. (JSSI) from 1994-2004 as Vice President of Sales for the Central U.S. From 2004-2013 he was the President and co-founder of The Jet Collection, a corporate aircraft dealership specializing in new aircraft positions and long-range aircraft models, generating over 3 Billion in aircraft sales in 5-years. Under Jason’s leadership, The Jet Collection became the largest inventory dealership in North America specializing in Pre-Delivery Contracts (Green Aircraft). He developed key marketing campaigns that have been implemented by competitive companies and he is an expert contract negotiator, and one of the industries experts on speculative inventory purchasing. Jason graduated in the top 1% of his class with National Honors from Roosevelt University in Chicago as well as a lifetime member of the Benjamin Franklin Honor Society. Jason is an avid Triathlete, marathon runner, swimmer and cyclist and enjoys spending time with his family.
Ken Dufour, ASA, CEO
Mr. Kenneth Dufour, ASA is the CFO of VREF and was appointed as Alumni-At-Large Trustee for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in October 1998. He now serves as the Chair of the Student Life Committee and is a member of the Development and Flight Safety and Education committees. Mr. Dufour is also the Chair of the Alumni Advisory Council.
Dufour’s aviation career spans more than 30 years of involvement. He has held positions as regional vice president, area manager, and regional marketing manager for leading industry companies like Gulfstream Aerospace, Honeywell, BF Goodrich Aerospace, AlliedSignal, and Litton Aero Products.
Dufour earned a bachelor’s degree in professional Aeronautics and a Master of Aviation Management degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. He is a licensed Airline Transport Pilot and a Certified Flight Instructor for Single-Engine, Multi-Engine and Instruments. Dufour is a member of the American Society of Appraisers, where he holds the designation of Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA). Previously representing the National Aircraft Finance Association on its Board of Directors, Dufour now serves as an active member of the organization.
Richard “Dick” Hart, Chief Helicopter Appraiser
Richard Hart, A&P, NAAA, AM our chief helicopter appraiser, has over 40 years of experience in the helicopter industry. He is the owner/operator of National Helicopter Service & Engineering Company, his family’s business established in 1957 as well as Elite Helicopter Tours. He joined the family business after graduating in 1975 from USC’s Marshall School of Business with a degree in finance, and coupled with an A&P license, he quickly became National’s Director of Maintenance and eventually it’s President as well. This vast experience of managing flight operations and maintenance requirements for a wide variety of over 20 helicopters and airplanes, has given Richard an unparalleled perspective of the aviation industry. It also became a natural progression for him to combine finance and aircraft knowledge into completing aircraft appraisals. Since the late 1970s, as well as after founding Hart Aircraft Appraisal, he has appraised and produced reports on thousands of aircraft of all makes and models.
Richard Calmelat, Office Manager
Richard Calmelat joined VREF in October 2018 as Office Manager/Assistant to the CEO. Prior to joining VREF he worked as a Private House Manger for more than 10 years for several high net worth individuals and families and as a design associate with a small interior design firm. In his teens and twenties, he worked with actuaries and pension funds; so clearly, his life has gotten more interesting.
Originally from Los Angeles, he has called Chicago his home for 18 years. His spare time is spent traveling, bowling and with his two basenjis; one a retired Grand Champion, the other a pet from his first litter. He hopes to acquire another Basenji and re-enter the dog show circuit in the near future.
Jeremey Cox, A&P, IA, with FCC + Radar
“JetValues Jeremy” Cox is known in the Industry as “JetBroker Jeremy”, Jeremy brings his diverse wealth of knowledge and 44+ years of experience to VREF. Jeremy currently holds a valid A&P, IA, and FCC Licenses and a Commercial Certificate with Instrument Rating. As a former member of the Society of Licensed Aircraft Engineers and Technologists, he was elected by the Royal Aeronautical Society as a Technician of the Society in 1987. He was formerly the Vice President at a St. Louis based full service FBO and Repair Station, and Aircraft Parts Manufacturing company. Jeremy has diverse technical and operational experience including North Atlantic aircraft delivery experience, S.T.C. approval processing, government contract negotiation and awards, FAA coordination and extensive maintenance experience on light aircraft through Air Carrier aircraft. Jeremy was the Director of Maintenance for several different companies and have also been employed by several airframe manufacturers’ independent Service Centers which include Dassault, Gulfstream, Raytheon and Lockheed. Jeremy is an avid aviation writer, having been published in a variety of trade journals and currently maintains a monthly column in the Avbuyer Magazine.
Norman Hull, Director of Business Development
Norman is the Director of Business Development at VREF. He brings over 30 years of advertising experience from the Chicago Tribune to our team. Norm’s primary goal is to create true and measurable value for his clients. He believes exceeding clients expectations is the best path for long lasting relationships and continued mutual success. Norman is a proud father of four daughters and nine grandchildren. When he is not changing diapers he loves to play golf!