Welcome to #HOMETOWNHUSTLE – a SweetwaterNOW exclusive series where we highlight hardworking individuals at local businesses in our community.
Recently, I had a chance to catch up with Devon Brubaker, the Airport Director for the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport. Devon moved to Sweetwater County to seize this specific opportunity.
The role of an Airport Director of a smaller scale Commercial Service Non-Hub Airport like RKS is very diverse ensuring that the job, according to Devon, “is never boring.” Smaller airports often results in a smaller staff as well, requiring the Airport Director to take a more hands-on approach to day-to-day operations while still maintaining a keen eye on the long-term strategic future of the airport and its impact on the community/region.
“On a typical day, I will deal with the airport budget, procurement, facility maintenance issues, air service development, construction management, customer service, ground handling aircraft, snow removal operations, regulatory compliance, marketing, business development, legislative issues, capital development planning, labor issue, etc.”
Ever since Brubaker was a little kid he aspired to be involved in the aviation industry.
“I was drawn to the industry through numerous visits to see my grandpa fly to Arizona from the airport in Lancaster, PA and frequent trips as an unaccompanied minor to visit my dad back in Pennsylvania when we moved to Illinois. I went to the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, IA to major in Flight Operations.”
Brubaker obtained his pilot’s license during his freshman year of college. He had a change in heart and decided that he would like to focus on the management side of aviation. Thanks to the direction of his academic advisor who formerly worked at an airport, Brubaker studied Airport Management the following semester.
“To this day, I often credit him for being where I am today. He is now the Executive Director at Des Moines International Airport and the rest is history.”
It is very apparent that Devon has done a wonderful job as our Airport Director, but the success of the airport has not come without challenges.
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During Devon’s time as the Airport Director, one of the biggest challenges him and his staff have faced, outside of the severely negative impacts of COVID-19 on the airport, has been working to rebuild community support for the airport.
Over the years, the airport had fallen out of favor with the community and it was my mission from day one to work with our Board and Staff to implement strategic investments and programs that would benefit the community we serve.-Devon Brubaker
That’s exactly what he’s done, by providing better air service, fares, facilities, more community programs, and less dependency on the City/County, etc.
SOUTHWEST REGIONAL AIRPORT IN 3 WORDS
Progressive, Efficient, and Safe.
“We still have work in front of us to recapture the progress we were making prior to COVID-19. However, I am confident that the community partnerships and relationships we have built will help that move forward.”
If you visited the airport prior to 2015 and haven’t visited since, you wouldn’t believe the additions and improvements that have been made.
“There have been so many great moments over the last several years. From the construction of our $5.68 million General Aviation Complex with only $30,000 of local funds that have resulted in over $250,000 in new annual revenues for the airport to the huge announcements for reduced airfares and improved flight schedules, it is fulfilling to deliver facilities and services to our community that helps us move forward,” explained Devon. “We are looking forward to many more great things in the future including the modernization of our commercial airline terminal this year and the recruitment of aerospace firms bringing jobs and economic diversification to the community.”
For Devon, what he enjoys most about being the Airport Director is the ever-changing roles and being able to make a difference in not only the operations of the airport, but also helping build a stronger local economy.
“I absolutely love leading an organization that makes an impact on residents, businesses and industry throughout the region. Being able to be part of the solution to deliver a stronger economy is what feeds my passion for the job.”
Devon is from the east side of the country and staying there may not have allowed him to be so involved in the community without running for office. Being able to volunteer for local boards and community organizations to extend his focus beyond the perimeter fence of the airport is one of his favorite parts about Sweetwater County.
“Our community has so much potential that will be realized under the fantastic leadership of the many great leaders and volunteers in our community. I am excited to be a small part of that progress.”
Throughout his time as a leader, Devon has learned a lesson that he’d like to share with aspiring business owners/managers.
“Lead with passion and grace. Support the community and they will support you.”
Devon would also like to thank the community and airport customers for their support throughout the years.
“The Board and Staff of the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport are passionate about delivering an airport that provides the services and facilities desired by the community. The continued support of the community is what drives us to continue the forward progress. On a personal level, as my family and I are transplants to Sweetwater County, we can’t thank the community enough for welcoming us with open arms. We are proud to call Sweetwater County and Wyoming home!”