2021 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Paul H. Swift, C.M., LEED GA, Deputy Director; Planning, Design & Construction, Wayne County Airport Authority

Dec. 9, 2021

Aviation and construction run deep in Paul Swift's blood.

“My great grandfather was in construction, building homes in the Detroit area and both of my grandfathers were in aviation serving in the military; one stationed at a local airport and another who was an aircraft inspector,” said Swift. “So to me, it’s no wonder why I love what I do, it’s part of who I am. I love the challenges. I love problem solving and the complexities of our day-to-day operations. I'm really blessed to be able to work with such talented people here,” Swift said.

For a number of years Swift had lead several airport projects such as a large airport snow removal equipment maintenance complex, a new public safety headquarters and airport response center which included major security and network system relocations and complex infrastructure, but he did not become a part of the aviation industry himself until managing the construction of the new four story state of the art Administration office building for the Wayne County Airport Authority. After the successful completion of that project, Swift was offered an opportunity to join the Airport Authority and has been with them ever since, servicing both Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) and Willow Run Airport (YIP).

Since joining, Swift has successfully led many important capital facility improvements, infrastructure and building projects. Being a LEED certified professional, he has been instrumental in two DTW facilities receiving LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in building design, construction, and operations.

“When I had hired in, I was a Senior Project Manager running facilities projects, infrastructure projects, network upgrades and building decommissioning and demolition projects. Airports have so many touch points including stakeholders, airline tenants and concessionaires which makes things quite challenging. These projects all require clear and concise communication, detailed scheduling, and close coordination in order to be successful. I've been a problem solver from a very young age and overcoming these challenging projects is really what drives me,” said Swift.

Since joining the airport, Swift has completed the AAAE CM exam and has been twice awarded CEO Coins – a program started by Wayne County Airport Authority’s CEO to recognize employee’s exemplarily work and leadership – for outstanding service, all within his first two years with the airports. Now as Deputy Director of Facilities in the Planning, Design and Construction department, Swift oversees a team of project managers, project supervisors and department managers.

But Swift’s proudest challenge was leading the design and facilitating the multi-phase demolition of DTW’s former LC Smith Terminal and Air Traffic Control Tower while relocating the security and network infrastructure and head end systems out of the terminal. In one of the phases, we took down a pedestrian bridge one evening over the airport’s main thoroughfare in front of the former terminal, rerouted traffic and had the roadway back open in the morning. “This was one of the most complicated projects I’ve ever worked on” Swift said, going on to say “My career has been large scale building and construction, this time it was demolition, and I loved every minute of it, to making way for future development here at DTW!”

Swift's avid promotion and use of technology has enabled the airport to get real time construction updates/footage. Along with his editing skills, he's been able to produce captivating time-lapse videos of construction and demolition projects around the airport. He continues to make significant impacts at both airports; DTW and YIP and we know he will continue to do so far into the future.