Less than 24 hours after John Wheat resigned as executive director of Northwest Florida Beaches International (ECP), the airport authority board named a successor.
The board didn't have to look very far to find him. At an emergency meeting Wednesday morning, board members unanimously voted to promote Parker McClellan, Deputy Executive Director, to the top post.
"I think he's a wise choice," said Chairman John Pilcher, III. "If you have qualified people in your organization, they deserve a chance to be moved up and given an opportunity."
McClellan, 51, joined the airport management team in August 2010 from Orange County, where he was Senior Director of Airports with responsibility for Orlando International and Orlando Executive Airport. McClellan has worked in the airport industry for 26 six years.
Wheat, who came to ECP in 2011, announced Tuesday that he will leave to become Director of Airports in Sacramento, California. At the conclusion of the meeting, board members expressed appreciation for Wheat's leadership. "He's done a lot in two years and has really been a good value for the airport," said Rick Koehnemann.
McClellan said his close working relationship with Wheat will ensure a smooth transition. "He knew what I was doing and I knew what he was doing," said McClellan. "We didn't skip a beat... if he wasn't available I could jump in at any time and step back out."
Pilcher said McClellan should be able to hit the ground running. "I don't want the airport to miss a step," he said. "We need to continue with no glitches, with no blip on the radar screen."
McClellan said his top priorities will be the new cross wind runway, covered parking in front of the terminal and carrying out the airport's master plan. "I've made airports my career and as part of that, being an executive director of an airport is one of the things you look toward," said McClellan. "I'm very excited about this opportunity and I'm glad that the board made the selection that they did."
The new director will take over the top job at ECP on April 5 when Wheat's resignation becomes effective. The board will hire an executive search firm to recruit a new deputy director.