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Air Force vet, well-known business owner picked for airport manager post

Tribune-Democrat - 2/3/2020

Feb. 3--In some ways, the region's next airport manager will be shifting from the rivers to the runway.

Coal Tubin' Co-Founder and Air Force veteran Chad Gontkovic was picked Sunday to manage the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, authority officials announced.

An United States Air Force combat systems officer with degrees in both airfield and business management -- and a passion for Johnstown -- Gontkovic was picked out of a pool of four finalists as the "perfect fit" for the Richland Township airport, Authority Chairman Jim Loncella said.

"With his aviation experience, his background in business management ... and his connections in Johnstown, we think Chad really brings the whole package in terms of what we're looking for right now," Loncella said.

Gontkovic accepted the job Sunday.

In doing so, he'll replace previous manager Thomas Keyes, who departed in December -- and earn $75,000 over the coming year, plus benefits, authority officials said.

He'll also take the helm at a time the authority has seen commercial air travel numbers rebound to their highest levels since the early part of the decade, while making other strides alongside fixed base operator Nulton Aviation.

Gontkovic described the opportunity as a "dream job."

"With my career in the Air Force, I've been in and around airports my entire adult life -- and to get the opportunity to run this one, it's something I've always wanted," said Gontkovic, a 2000 Richland High School grad.

Gontkovic said he'll begin serving as manager Feb 10.

While Gontkovic launched Coal Tubin' and Johnstown Paper Company over the past decade, he said both have been under the day-to-day operation of managers for years.

The Air Force has remained his full-time duty much of that time, he added. Under the 193rd Special Operations Wing, missions across the globe have kept him away from home often, he said.

"I'm at the point now when my kids are getting older and I want to be home with my family more," he said. "So, this came along at the right time."

Gontkovic credited the airport's current board for making positive strides on both the property and the runway in recent years.

He said he's hopeful the success he's had bringing people to Johnstown -- through tourism -- can be duplicated at the airport in similar ways.

Gontkovic said he wants to introduce new strategies to lure new business to the property and, separately, persuade area travelers to give their local airport a shot.

He cited the potential for an "aerospace incubator" that would allow small companies to launch at the airport "and then hopefully grow here."

Loncella said the authority is eager to get to work with Gontkovic.

"With Chad, we're looking forward to moving on with continued success -- both with our new airline and all of our other projects," he said.

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