In March of 2021, Easton Airport announced the hiring of Jeff Lankford as Business and Marketing Coordinator. The position was created to bring a focus to the airport’s need to streamline our marketing efforts, increase community outreach, be a point of contact for business dealings, and other items that have become increasingly important to the management of Easton Airport over the years. With his first year under his belt, we figured now would be a good time to sit with Jeff to see how things are going and what is on the horizon for Easton Airport.
Tell us a bit about your position at Easton Airport and what led you to work for Talbot County?
I was hired as Business and Marketing Coordinator for Easton Airport last March. It is a new position for the airport and I understood the role would evolve and develop as I came onboard. The focus so far has been to improve our processes and foster our business and community relations. I have worked with our business partners on lease agreements, collaborating on projects, and simplify information sharing. The marketing side of the job means pushing out information to more channels while growing and defining our audiences. We now have a dedicated news section on our website that is regularly updated, we started our airport newsletter, revamped our website navigation based on analytics I implemented, and we have started looking at how to market our assets to a wider audience. We keep finding new opportunities to explore, so the workday is never dull.
What were you doing before working at the airport and what drew you to this position?
I graduated from Easton High School and slowly earned a degree in Business Management at Chesapeake College while working in hospitality for Marriott and Wyndham International. The world of hospitality requires you to wear many hats. If you are going to run a successful operation, you must learn to understand costumer contracts, running a team, procurement, inventory control, scheduling, and so on. Hospitality management also involves a lot of event planning, marketing, and branding awareness. I discovered that I enjoyed those projects the most and it set me up for my transition to event management and marketing in 2017. By that time, I had started a family and the hotel grind with long hours, no weekends, and no holidays off was less desirable. I found that the airport management and Talbot County shared those values. The position lets me tap into my work experiences and use them for the projects we work on, but they also value work-life balance.
What do you like most about being at the airport?
The balance of work and personal life is certainly towards the top of my list. I also like our team at the airport. We are a smaller department that gets along great, but we are also part of something bigger being employees of Talbot County. That means we have a ton of support and enjoy a variety of benefits. The workday also feels well balanced. We stand ready to respond to anything that is needed, and the airport is open 24/7, but we do not often need to carry our work worries home with us. I really appreciate that. It lets me enjoy my personal and family time.
What were the highlights of your first year at Easton Airport?
Easton Airport Day 2021 was a big success. We grew the event and had our biggest crowd ever. We focused on our marketing efforts, streamlining our setup process, reaching out to community partners to include more exhibits, more food options and restrooms to help cut down on lines. It was nice to be able to plan something like that again and have it be close to the way things were pre-pandemic. My wife volunteered her time to help with the event and my son joined us towards the end of the event. We had a chance to enjoy the festivities between all the coordination.
What were your expectations about working at the airport and how have they changed?
I assumed that the airport management team was responsible for flight tracking and reporting. I have learned that Easton Airport’s Air Traffic Control Tower is managed by Midwest ATC and they run the operations there. Other aspects of the airport are like that too. Aircraft maintenance, flight training, chartering, all of that are run by independent businesses and they employ crews that specialize in those fields. That is why having good relationships with all of our businesses is important. They help make our airport successful. Our big focus is to make sure the airport infrastructure is first-rate for all of the businesses, users, and tenants.
What are your goals for this year?
We have a focus on infrastructure, education, and community outreach and we want to find ways to strengthen all three areas. We will continue our improvements on the terminal building by refreshing the space and making it more user friendly. Last year, we repainted the lobby, transitioned to digital display advertising; added Talbot County focused brochures, and improved our notice boards and signage. This year we look to improve our entrance and exteriors to make them more accessible.
The ACE center has opened back up and we are conducting tours and using the space to expose the community to aviation enterprises. We look to expand that and find more collaborators that have a passion for sharing the world of aviation with the next generation. That goes hand-in-hand with the community outreach piece. We want to be a connector, we want to keep telling our story, share important information, and be good neighbors. We are looking at revamping our noise abatement policy materials so they are current, relevant, and easy to reference. All of this will work in conjunction with incremental updates we have planned for our websites. We have so much information and we want to keep bringing it together and make it easier to access.