The Telluride Airport Authority Board has chosen a likely successor to longtime airport manager Rich Nuttall, whose contract expires at the end of this year.
At last Thursday’s board meeting, Kenneth Maenpa, a Denver-area aviation executive, was the board’s unanimous choice. The question now is whether the board’s planning committee will be able to land Maenpa during contract negotiations.
Matt Skinner, a board member and chief operating officer of Colorado Flights Alliance, referred all questions to board chairman Jon Dwight.
Reached late Tuesday afternoon, Dwight said the negotiating process has just gotten underway.
Maenpa’s Linked In page lists him as employed as aviation practice group leader for Jacobs Engineering — a global company with comprehensive aviation services and a presence in the greater Denver area — since September 2014.
Maenpa’s online resume touts extensive experience in Colorado. Prior to working for Jacobs, Maenpa served as airport director for Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County (March 2005 to September 2014); airport operations manager for Eagle County (February 2002 to April 2003); and airport manager for Garfield County (May 1999 to January 2002).
Last summer, the board hired a Florida executive recruiting firm, ADK Consulting, to begin the search for Nuttall’s possible replacement. ADK Consulting specializes in aviation industry searches.
Maenpa was among ADK’s top choices for the Telluride position following an intensive search, Dwight said.
At the May 18 board meeting, following an invitation from the board’s planning committee, board members interviewed Maenpa about his previous experience.
County Commissioner Joan May asked Maenpa why the Telluride job appeals to him. The candidate replied that he liked the location and noted his experience with Western Slope airports.
He said that TEX was well-managed and he wanted an “opportunity to be a part of that.” He also gave credit to the airport authority board.
“You have a group who is focused on the airport,” Maenpa said. “Right away, off the bat, you have a team who is interested in the success of the airport.”
Board member Lynne Beck, finance director for the Town of Telluride, asked him how well he has done with airport budgets.
Maenpa replied that at every airport he’s managed, “I have been soup to nuts from beginning to end. We always came out of every audit very clean. …I have been fortunate that every airport has been self supporting and one I joined was not, but by the time I left it was.”
Richard Child, an alternate member of the board, pointed out Maenpa’s “impressive credentials” before asking him how he would handle coming into TEX at a time of short- and long-term restructuring.
“What approach would you take to maximize the team’s efforts and resources given to you to keep the airport going and not skip a beat?” Child asked.
“I’m not the guy who is going to come in and turn the whole staff over and start new. My strength is embracing the talent that you do have … I like to say bring the best out of people,” he said. “There’s a lot of ideas and sometimes those ideas are not listened to. These are the people who have the institutional knowledge, embracing those ideas, and we build that team together. We build a team first. I would be the new leader of that team but I would not want to upset that. I don’t demand respect; I believe you have to earn respect. I would jump in a snowplow or truck, whatever I have to do, to learn this operation.”
Over the winter months, the Daily Planet received letters to the editor from several community members in support of the airport board retaining Nuttall for the next couple of years.
Nuttall, who has served as Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) manager for nearly 25 years, has not commented on the situation involving the search for his replacement. Currently he is overseeing several construction projects at the airport.