Vanderleest to join City of Concord as Aviation Director
Friday, July 14, 2017

CONCORD – Following a nationwide search, City Manager Brian Hiatt announced that Dirk Vanderleest has been selected as Concord’s new Aviation Director. Vanderleest will oversee operations and development at Concord Regional Airport (FAA: JQF, IATA: USA). He will begin work in early September.

“We welcome Dirk to the City’s management team,” said Hiatt. “We believe his experience with over 30 years in airport leadership and business development will be vital to maintaining and growing general aviation and commercial services. Concord Regional Airport is a key economic cog for this region and Dirk's administrative and customer service skills will support its continued success.”

Vanderleest's appointment followed a national recruitment effort that attracted candidates locally and across the country. He brings extensive experience in aviation, management, and economic development. He retired in 2014 as the CEO of the Jackson (Mississippi) Municipal Airport Authority, responsible for the daily operations and management of both Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN) and Hawkins Field (HKS). Following his retirement, he has worked for Waggoner Engineering, Inc., focused on business development and strategic planning.

Concord Regional Airport has a strong general aviation focus that recently has been enhanced by the availability of low-cost scheduled passenger service to five destinations. Vanderleest will lead the over 40 Aviation Department coworkers who provide aircraft fueling, hangaring, tie-down, parking, and customer services. Other aeronautical services such as aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, and flight instruction are offered through private operators leasing space on-site. CRA also has an on-site, staffed fire station operated by the Concord Fire Department and a control tower operated by contracted staff. The annual budget for the airport currently exceeds $9.3 million.

"Dirk will be taking over a department with outstanding coworkers," said Deputy City Manager Merl Hamilton. "In particular, he will be able to rely on Deputy Director Susan Green who has done a great job as Interim Aviation Director since April."

The position is also accountable to the City Manager for the management of the business functions of airport, the negotiation and supervision of all airport contracts authorized by the City, fiscal aspects including the development and recommendation of budgets, grant applications, and related financial reporting, the implementation of capital improvement projects, the management of real estate and lease interests, and compliance with Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations.

"It’s a real honor and privilege to have been chosen as the City of Concord's Aviation Director. I am looking forward to joining the City's staff leadership team and working with the airport's professional staff," said Vanderleest. "Though Concord Regional Airport has already grown successfully in the corporate and general aviation markets, I am excited to partner with others to take it to the next level."

CRA is one of the busiest airports in the Carolinas. Many of these operations are related to the motorsports industry as most NASCAR related teams are located in the Charlotte region, several with facilities adjacent to or near the airport. Allegiant Airlines also operates commercial flights out of CRA.

Concord’s previous Aviation Director, Rick Cloutier, resigned in March to become the assistant director of airports for Horry County, South Carolina.