Michael Griffin hired as next director of the Fort Smith Regional Airport

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 2,119 views 

The Fort Smith Regional Airport Commission named Michael Griffin as the facility’s new airport director during Tuesday night’s (April 25) meeting. Griffin replaces former director John Parker, who announced his retirement last November and officially left the post on March 31.

Griffin took over as the interim airport director following Parker’s departure. Prior to accepting the role, he served as the airport’s director of operations from January 2011 and as a special projects assistant from January 2007. He earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark., in 2006; is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE); is currently enrolled in the AAAE Accredited Airport Executive Program; and expects to attain AAE designation before the end of the year.

“Michael went through an extensive vetting process,” Commissioner James Kelly explained. “ADK (Executive Search) had brought in four clients from outside of the region. The applicants were interviewed extensively. In the end, it was a unanimous decision among all the commissioners, and nothing pleases me more to make the announcement.”

Kelly continued: “I also will say it was a necessity to go through those applicants the way that we did. It was the Commission’s responsibility to find the best person we could possibly find for that position, and I can assure you that we have.”

Griffin interviewed along with the other four candidates as part of an all-day session Monday (April 24), capping off a process that began in early February.

“It was an extensive process. There were the original submittals, a questionnaire, a video interview where they shortened the list even more to the final candidates. At each interval, you were notified of where you stood,” Griffin said, adding he was “grateful” to have been selected and that it was his goal to become an airport director from early in his career.

“In the airport industry, if you want to advance, there’s not one down the road. So nine times out of 10, an airport employee who wants to go to the next level has to go somewhere else to do so. I feel so fortunate and so grateful I’m able to do that at home,” Griffin said.

Griffin is from the area and has lived in Fort Smith for the last 15 years. As far as agenda is concerned, he said there would be a lot of “continuing what we’re doing, building a new fire station, and developing some property.”

“John Parker did so great at operating the airport, and we want to continue and build on that,” Griffin said.

When inquiring about compensation package, Talk Business & Politics was referred back to Commissioner Kelly, who said it is “a standard comp package with a salary range of $90,000-$120,000.”

“There’s a car. There’s a benefits package for insurance and health and all that, and we’re actually going to revisit (benefits package) because I think there are some discrepancies with the city where we have some autonomy to have our own package. But I know the city had some changes, some improvements, in their package, so I’ve asked our staff to look at that and compare the city’s to ours to make sure we’re in close alignment. So that’s where it stands.”

When asked again for a hard number on Griffin’s salary, Kelly said, “It’s a range.”