September 24, 2018
By Will Robinson – Reporter, Jacksonville Business Journal
Steve Grossman, CEO of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority for nine years, is ready to ride off into the sunset after holding his last board meeting Monday. He leaves JAA with the highest year-to-date passenger count in more than a decade, the highest year-to-date revenue in the authority's 50-year history and new routes announced by four airlines in the last year.
JAA CFO Richard Rossi recounted the authority's strong metrics, including passenger counts, concessions and more. JAA saw more passengers in April, May and August than the same months at any point in JAA's history. The passenger count in July, almost 591,000, was the highest of any month since JAA's all-time record in July 2007. All concession companies at Jacksonville International Airport saw their gross profits climb last month, a feat that hasn't been achieved in nine years. The authority's year-to-date operating income is more than $28 million, while revenue is nearing $80 million.
"It’s the right time for me to go, but I leave this organization in what I consider excellent shape," said Grossman.
The board appointed Rusty Chandler, chief of Cecil Airport and general aviation, as interim CEO while a search is conducted for a permanent CEO. Grossman commended the board for not installing an interim who was also a candidate for the permanent CEO, which he believes would be a mistake. Instead, Grossman envisions Chandler's months-long role as "solidifying things so the next person can take over the same organization we have today and move it forward."
"I’ve been extremely impressed with his calm leadership," Grossman said of Chandler.
Grossman, who served as the director of aviation at the Port of Oakland before joining JAA in 2009, said the current board and staff stand above any he's had in his career.
"The trust you put in me and the staff is why we succeed," said Grossman. "It's freed us up to be innovative and entrepreneurial."
There is not a fixed timeline to find JAA's next permanent CEO.
"I look forward to finding someone who has carried the torch as well as you have," Board Chair Giselle Carson told Grossman.
Carson also ended her tenure as board chair in Monday's meeting, though she will remain on the board. Jay Demetree, who was vice chair, succeeds her as chair.