Leaders of the Year 2010

The 2010 Ground Support Leaders of the Year awards ceremony at Aviation Industry Expo recognized six recipients for contributions to the industry.


“Sean believes that purchasing quality ground equipment is just like purchasing quality aircraft and it can be justified and save Allegiant big dollars otherwise spent in expensive repairs and downtime,” said William Bohnett, GSE manager at Allegiant Air, while introducing Sean. “He requests that the industry’s top providers come to us and prove their worth, because we’re spending the investor’s money and we want to get the most bang for our buck.”

“Over the past year, my greatest pleasure and success has been in ground support equipment,” said Sean Hopkins, accepting the award.

Engineer/Innovator Leader of the Year: For a company or a person who has introduced a revolutionary product

I.D. Systems

I.D. Systems is a publicly traded company, co-founded by Kenneth Ehrman at Stanford University in 1993. The company has pioneered the use of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology for wireless vehicle tracking and fleet management.

The initial success of I.D. Systems’ emerging technology came in 1995. They developed and implemented a tracking system for the United States Postal Service. By 1997, a demonstrated market need for fleet management and utilization led the company to develop a unique, patented technology — vehicle management systems. To date, I.D. Systems has been awarded nine patents as well as an additional 21 pending for technologies adaptable to any industry, vehicle type and infrastructure. This system was designed to boost fleet and operator productivity, establish total visibility of vehicles, improve safety and security, and reduce maintenance and other operating costs.

Green Leader of the Year: For a person or a company who has introduced environmentally friendly equipment or processes

Neil Bennett, president, eTug LLC

Neil Bennett has accrued many years in the airline industry, beginning to work on the ramp at age 16 with his father. “Being on the ramp every day provided an extensive working knowledge of all ground support equipment,” he says.

At age 18, he moved to Los Angeles where he began to work for Mercury Air Group, a large ground handling company in the US. He worked as a ramp agent, ramp supervisor and ramp manager. He then went on to join Mercury GSE for 12 years as a GSE sales agent, GSE rental manger, director of GSE and vice president sales.

In 1998, he formed Compass GSE to sell and market new and used GSE worldwide.

Prompted by a movement to “go green,” he designed and developed the “eTug” electric baggage tractor, which uses a standard 110 volt outlet for charging.

The first sales of the eTug took place in 2007. He has gone on to create the eCart — a battery baggage cart designed to provide power to the eTug for uninterrupted operation. In addition, he continues to develop the company’s line of green GSE products, including the new eTug Lite.
“I believe the planet is experiencing some sort of global warming. I’m not sure if it’s a natural cycle of the planet or if it’s created by us,” Bennett said, accepting the award. “However, this industry is contributing to the problem and I think that’s something we all need to look at and make a change.”

Lifetime Achievement Award: For a person who has demonstrated commitment to the industry through a lifetime of dedicated service

Louis Lombardi, president, Aviation Systems

Louis Lombardi’s career in the ground support industry has spanned more than 40 years. Beginning his career in GSE with McCormick-Morgan Inc., he engineered and selected battery systems for motive power, such as electric forklifts and locomotives, communications (microwave repeater stations) and utility power for nuclear and non-nuclear power plants. He was the executive vice president, member of the board of directors and a minority stockholder of McCormick-Morgan for 29 years. He then went on to found Aviation Systems.

Lou has made extensive contributions to 400hz and 28vdc GSE and systems since 1962. He was involved in the first applications of 400hz in central systems in 1975 and has been a pioneer in many of the 400hz distribution methods in use today.

He has participated in the type testing of several generations of solid state frequency converters and was one of the first to design and procure the necessary equipment for the first 400Hz, 575V distribution systems utilizing paralleling motor generator sets. He has designed and built central 400Hz systems where the power was distributed at 115/200V, 575V and 4160Volts.
In 1980 Lou was selected by the Air Transport Association to write a handbook for 400Hz distribution, which was to be the guide for the engineering community. The guide, titled “400Hz Fixed Power Systems Design Guidebook,” is still used today.

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