Consultants assess strengths of Tampa director finalists

Sept. 24, 2010
Board expected to vote on candidate next week


Sept. 24--TAMPA -- The consultant who identified candidates to become director at Tampa International Airport said in a report Lester Robinson of Detroit is personable, somewhat low-key in style and financially astute, while Joseph Lopano of Dallas-Fort Worth conveys his views with conviction, not arrogance, and is very business-minded.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board on Thursday released additional details on the candidates that the Miami office of Spencer Stuart provided as a guide for interviews the board conducted Sept. 15 and 16 in Tampa.

The board is expected to vote on a candidate next Wednesday.

The guide includes information from the consultant about the candidates that shed additional light on the two finalists -- Lopano, who is executive vice president of marketing and terminal management at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Robinson, former chief executive of the Wayne County Airport Authority, which oversees Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The guide outlined general areas of questioning, along with a few specific questions including how the candidates would handle the board's desire for more international air service.

No responses from last week's interviews were provided.

Consultant Michael Bell said Lopano:

--Feels well positioned to be considered as a potential successor to the DFW chief executive, but sees the opportunity to move into an overall leadership role now as attractive.

--Did a "tremendous job" of transforming a very weak, ineffective air service development department into a highly effective group.

--Brings a "nice blend" of perspectives from his experience with jobs at airlines and airports.

Bell said Robinson:

--Developed a strong reputation in the Detroit area as a "fix it" executive who regularly was given turnaround challenges.

--Played an important role in bringing international air service in Detroit, which serves 29 international destinations, with new service to Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong this year.

--Led Detroit to "impressive costs per enplaned passenger" a benefit to airlines in adding service.

Lopano's base salary was $250,000; he also received an annual bonus and a car. Robinson's base salary was $215,759; he received a $650 per month auto allowance and other benefits. Miller's salary was $253,294, along with a $500 monthly auto allowance. In lieu of participating in the Florida Retirement System, the aviation authority contributed $46,000 to a 401(a) plan for Miller.