At first glance, newly-hired airports director Jon Rembold seems an odd fit for the job.
Rembold has no experience overseeing airports. But he has been hired to oversee daily operations at the Beaufort County Airport on Lady’s Island and the Hilton Head Island facility. In his new capacity, he must oversee some of the biggest projects to take place at the airports in years — runway extensions, tree-cutting programs and planned improvements at the Hilton Head Island terminal.
The former U.S. Marine Corps ground officer and Ward Edwards Engineering project manager will also play a big part in luring a second commercial airlines to the airport to offset the loss of Delta Air Lines.
Beaufort County Administrator Gary Kubic say Rembold is the perfect fit despite the lack of airport-specific experience. We hope so, and wish Rembold well as he takes on these mammoth tasks.
As the airports gear up for the series of high-profile projects, the county needs a director with project management experience more than it needs a traditional director with experience overseeing airport operations, Kubic said.
Rembold has overseen more than 200 residential and commercial development projects during his time at Ward Edwards, meaning he should understand budgeting, scheduling and customer service.
And Rembold has another trait that county leaders like: Deep ties to the community. He served as chairman of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce board of directors for 2011-12 and is a former president of the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association.
Those connections should come in handy as Rembold works to forge a compromise between the county, planning the runway extension, and homeowners who live near the airport, fed up with plane noise and unconvinced the extension is needed. Many are still upset by what they considered to be “indiscriminate” tree trimming last year that eliminated a buffer between their community and the airport.
Rembold must work closely with airport neighbors to find common ground as airport work progresses.
He’ll also need to pay heed to airport board members, many of whom have the aviation experience he lacks, and have rightfully complained about the time delay in the hiring of a new director. As they point out, they need a committed contact person.
While we have opposed some of the planned improvements, specifically the terminal upgrades because of the airport’s declining number of flights, if the county is to proceed, it needs a strong leader to head the process.
We’re hoping Rembold is the person for the job.