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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock - Photo by Katie Davis

John Rutledge, the chairman of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Committee's personnel committee, said Tuesday that he would like to see a new boss for Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field by the beginning of the new year.

"It sounded like we'll be doing interviews the middle to latter part of November," he said. "I would hope it would be shortly after that. Depending on who the candidates end up being, obviously, you've got negotiations, transitions and so forth. You tend to think if we could start the beginning of the year with a new director, that would be great."

Rutledge made the comments after his committee heard a presentation from the search firm tapped to find a replacement for Ron Mathieu, the longtime executive director for the state's largest airport who took the top job at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama in June.

Mathieu announced his departure less than two months after the commission gave him a favorable annual review and a 3% raise to boost his annual base salary to $235,994.65, which Rutledge said is in the middle of the salary range for the new executive director. Mathieu's base annual salary at the Birmingham airport is $300,000.

ADK Consulting and Executive Search of Atlantic Beach, Fla., which was selected by the commission last month, specializes in finding qualified people for a range of airport executive posts. It will be paid $36,900 under its agreement with Clinton National, said Shane Carter, the airport spokesman.

In 2008, ADK included Mathieu among its recommendations to lead Clinton National. At the time, Mathieu was the airport's deputy director.

Kenneth Gwyn, a senior project manager for Dallas-based ADK, told Rutledge's committee that his firm likely would begin advertising for qualified applicants in about two weeks and accept applications for a month before narrowing the field to five to seven candidates to recommend to the commission.

The vetting will include, in addition to resume submissions, requiring the candidates to answer several essay questions and a recorded sit-down interview, all of which will be available for commissioners to review through an online portal.

The commission will use that information to select which candidates get in-person interviews, Gwyn said.

"We have a comprehensive process, a time-tested process," he said. "It has proven successful."

Gwyn expressed confidence that the commission will have no dearth of candidates.

"The airport is a great facility," he said. "It's in excellent shape. You have a lot to talk about and a history of being a well-run airport. It's not going to be hard to sell your airport."

In response to a question from Jesse Mason, the commission chairman, Gwyn acknowledged that there would be some challenges to finding the right candidates.

Some potential candidates won't apply if their confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, he said.

"This industry's real small," Gwyn said. "We recognize open records, and we want to be careful how to guard their confidentiality to the greatest extent possible."

Still others might not apply because the airport has an in-house candidate, he said.

On May 31, the commission named Bryan Malinowski to run the airport on an interim basis. Malinowski, Mathieu's former top deputy, is drawing an annual salary of $216,215.65. The commission voted to increase his salary 7% while he serves dual roles. Malinowski has said he will apply for the top post.

Gwyn said he and his associate, Linda Frankl, will rely on an extensive knowledge of the industry, a database of 22,000 email addresses, advertisements in trade association publications and other job searches they've conducted in which the candidate who may not fit in one job might fit at Clinton National "focusing on specifically what you and the staff are looking for."

Rutledge said he expects the commission to consider well-rounded candidates with industry experience, which is an important component.

"You can't ignore experience in any field, and obviously the airport industry is very specialized and unique," he said. "Obviously, we'll take that into consideration, but there's a lot of other factors and variables that you're looking for.

"I don't know that we'd take experience exclusively if we're missing some other key components of what we're looking for in an individual. We'll weigh the options and see what we're looking at."

Metro on 09/11/2019

Print Headline: Little Rock airport exec search set to begin

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