WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – For the Westfield Airport Commission, the first choice may not have been the best choice but that’s OK.
The Westfield Airport Commission yesterday announced that their first choice for the vacant airport manager position, Marcelo F. Lima of Birmingham, Alabama, had declined the offer for the position made by the city. He reportedly declined for personal reasons.
However, the commission also interviewed a new candidate yesterday and decided to offer him the position.
The commission interviewed Eric J. Billowitz of Florida, New York, in a special meeting last night after he passed the initial stages put forth by the screening committee earlier in the day. After the interview, the commission discussed briefly and decided unanimously to allow the personnel department to proceed with contract negotiations with Billowitz. In a related move, the commission also decided that the other finalist, Robert N. Snuck of Pittsfield, would not be offered a contract if Billowitz declines.
Billowitz faced the same process as the other candidates and was one of the seven candidates originally chosen to be interviewed, but due to prior commitments to his previous employer he was unable to visit and participate in the initial phase of interviews. However, since the process extended, Billowitz was able to interview for the position and the results were highly positive.
“He has an excellent background, has great experience with a range of problems and has resolved them all, and he works well with different entities” Don Nicoletti, commission member, said.
“It was a positive surprise because he wasn’t in the original round but he is a great choice for the city,” commission member William Gonet, said.
Billowitz’s prior experience is based in the realm of business, which is what the commission has desired, but he has a lengthy history in airport management in general.
While still in college, Billowitz began with AvPORTS—the airport management company that is currently providing temporary managerial services for the airport—in 1984 and was with the company until 2016, where he worked at multiple airports in multiple positions. Afterward, he provided airport consultancy with Steven Baldwin Associates, based out of Albany, New York, from 2016 to now, and in 2016 he also provided research and advisory services for Delta Airlines regarding a terminal in LaGuardia Airport.
Among Billowitz’s accomplishments was one that kept him from interviewing for the position during the first round. While with Baldwin Associates, Billowitz’s first assignment had him overseeing a grant application process for a Rochester, New York, airport for $40 million.
“Rochester called to get everyone together,” Billowitz said. “We had six weeks to put together the entire application.”
Billowitz said that they were successful in getting the application in on time and receiving the grant.