Monday, January 15, 2018

Akron-Canton Regional (KCAK) director bleeds ‘airport blue’

Rick McQueen

GREEN Although he’s announced retirement plans, Rick McQueen isn’t done working as president and chief executive officer at Akron-Canton Airport.

Later this year he hopes see ground broken for several new gates, the last of 10 projects in CAK 2018. He also expects to spend time helping the next CEO transition to the job.

“I will always bleed airport blue,” McQueen said, referring to the color used in the Akron-Canton Airport’s logo.

Deciding to retire hasn’t been an easy decision, but the Akron-Canton staff is a close-knit team that cares about the airport and has made it a success, McQueen said. “I could do none of this by myself,” he said.

McQueen, 58, joined Akron-Canton’s staff as an accountant in 1982. “It’s home to me,” he said. He climbed the ranks and served as assistant airport director before taking the helm after Fred Krum retired as director.

He’s seen and directed plenty of changes over the past 35 years. The CAK 2018 projects — $118 million of capital improvements — started in 2008 as McQueen moved into the lead role. The projects include extending a runway, improving the entrance road and parking lots, new facilities for rescue and fire fighting equipment, and numerous improvements and renovations to the terminal.

When McQueen joined the airport staff, Krum had been director for two years. McQueen said he had the good fortune to spent 26 years working with Krum, who is credited with sparking the string of changes that have transformed the facility. Krum set a course and direction that McQueen followed, making tweaks to adjust with changes in the commercial airline industry.

Because of several factors, the biggest being airline consolidation, Akron-Canton has seen passenger use numbers fall over the past few years. McQueen believes the trend will bottom out and cited the decision by United Airlines to add service to Houston as a sign the situation is changing. McQueen said he hopes the airport’s next CEO will be able to lead the facility to the next level.

The airport’s eight-member board, which is appointed by officials in Stark and Summit counties, plans a nationwide search. McQueen anticipates someone will be hired before the year ends. He hopes to help the next CEO get to know the operation and the community. “I’m committed to making sure we can have a smooth transition,” he said.

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