Forty Under 40: Andrew Branch

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,524 views 

Class of 2020 Forty Under 40 Andrew Branch Chief Business Development Officer Northwest Arkansas National Airport, Highfill

Andrew Branch has sold everything from cars to mining equipment to mortgages. Now he’s selling Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) to the airlines and the public.

“Selling is selling,” Branch said. “On the customer side, it’s providing a good experience and good value and then making the same value proposition to the airlines. We’re facilitating business between the people of Northwest Arkansas and the airlines.”

A Houston native, Branch graduated in 2002 with an accounting degree from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. He earned an MBA from Texas A&M University in 2003. He worked for car dealerships, then sold equipment for Caterpillar Inc. Planning to practice small-town law, he moved to Arkansas and earned a law degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. After graduation in 2015, several state agencies recruited him. While working for Aaron Burkes at the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, Branch sold mortgages.

When XNA hired Burkes as its CEO, he encouraged Branch to apply for the airport’s newly created business development role. Appointed in April 2019, Branch brings the benefit of finance, accounting and legal experience to the job. “That gives me a different perspective when I’m talking to an airline than if I was purely a salesperson.”

Post-COVID, Branch wants to get the airport back on track in the next few years to 1 million enplanements. “Our goal is for more people to fly and fewer people to drive to other airports because we have more routes and lower prices.”

Branch led in presenting to the board the idea of changing the airport’s name to Northwest Arkansas National Airport.

Branch, a 2020 member of Leadership Benton County, said his proudest accomplishment is his baby daughter, Lucy.