Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek Thursday gave the official recommendation to the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission to make a conditional offer to Jeff Wig to serve as the airport’s new manager.
“It’s been a long haul for us,” Stunek said also confirming that the search committee’s decision to offer the position to Wig was unanimous. Stunek spoke to Wig following Tuesday’s search committee meeting and said Wig accepted and was excited to accept the conditional offer.
The search for a new manager began early in 2012 and saw 49 initial candidates. “This is a moment I think a lot of us have been waiting for,” said airport commission chair, Andy Larson. Larson also acknowledged the “significant” time commitment made over the past 10 months by the search committee. The commission extended its thanks to interim manager Rick Adair for his 10 months of service to the airport. Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom said, “You have not just been a place card over the last 10 months. You have done a fabulous job and I’m so grateful for your service.”
Adair was one of five finalists interviewed by the search committee.
Larson said the commission is thrilled to have the opportunity to offer the manager position to Wig. “We are eager to have him continue the excellent work that interim manager Adair has commenced,” he said.
Jeff Wig, who currently serves as the dean of career and technical programs at Central Lakes College in Brainerd said being selected is a huge honor.
“It’s a great vote of confidence in my ability and my work in the community,” Wig said in a phone interview Thursday. Wig said he could understand people questioning why the committee would select a candidate that hasn’t been in the aviation industry in more than 20 years, but appreciates that the search committee acknowledged his enthusiasm for aviation. “It’s fun to go to work at the airport,” he said. Wig started his career at the airport at the age of 16 when he spent eight years serving with Airmotive, Inc. His first job was to cut down trees for a runway expansion. He also spent time working as a line crewman and later worked his way up to serving as line crew supervisor.
After finishing his education at the University of Minnesota, Wig was offered a management job at the Brainerd airport from John Riedl Jr., owner of Airmotive, Inc. “He didn’t have to ask twice — let’s just put it that way,” Wig said.
Wig went onto to accept employment at Central Lakes College in Brainerd where he has spent the last 22 years. He said he has not applied for a position outside of the college until now. “I’ve always had in the back of my mind that if the opportunity ever came up, it would definitely be something I’d be interested in,” he said.
Wig hopes to see an increased visibility of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport within the great community. “I really don’t think people know how great this facility is,” he said. “This airport could serve a city five times our size. It’s equipped for growth.”
Wig’s official hiring at the airport is pending psychological and criminal background checks and contingent on salary and benefits negotiations. If all moves forward favorably, Larson said he hopes ideally to set Wig’s start date for January 1, 2013.
SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.