Blog updates from 2016 ACC Board of Directors Chair Don Bergin. Follow Don on Twitter at @bergin_don.

September 22, 2016

Greetings ACC members!  On behalf of the ACC Board of Directors, we are honored to have the opportunity to serve the membership and advance its mission to provide excellence in airport development. The first day of fall seems like an appropriate occasion to provide you with an update on ACC highlights from the summer of 2016.

Successful ACC Events:

ACC held two well attended events this summer in the Washington D.C. area.  The ACC/TSA Security Capabilities Workshop was held July 19-21 and The Airport Technical Workshop was held August 11-12.  Both events saw record attendees from members of the industry and regulatory agencies.  A big thanks to all the ACC members that volunteered so much of their time to develop topics and sessions.  These two events are, perhaps, the best examples of successful collaboration between the airport development industry and regulatory agencies (namely FAA and TSA).

ACC wrapped up the summer with a very successful ACC/FAA Great Lakes Region Workshop on September 21.  This one-day event focused on improving design and construction projects from inception to closeout.  The takeaway from this workshop, which included representatives from the FAA as well member and non-member firms, was a list best practices that ACC will develop.  Based on the success of this event, ACC is working on a plan to hold similar events for other regions.

ACC Agency Best Practices Award

Speaking of best practices, one of the high points of my summer was presenting the 2016 ACC Agency Best Practices Award to Amy Hanson of the FAA Chicago Airports District Office.  This award was initiated by ACC to draw attention to individuals from government agencies who exemplify teamwork, demonstrate their understanding of effective stakeholder interface, and exhibit an ability to be flexible and innovative.  Amy was in attendance at the Airport Technical Workshop to speak on a panel and seemed genuinely shocked to receive the award during a very nice luncheon.  Her surprise and gracious remarks made the occasion a highlight for all those present. In speaking with various ACC members about Amy’s selection, it was clear that Amy embodies the spirit of this award and she was a very deserving winner.

New Members

With approximately 20 new member firms this year, ACC is seeing consistent, healthy growth.  These new members include consulting firms, contractors and suppliers that offer both traditional and unexpected products and services.  Did you know that ACC has a new member firm that specializes in common use airport lounges? We also have new members that offer radiation shields, artificial turf and financial risk management, not to mention three major airport contractors that recently joined. Please check ACC’s website for a complete directory of current members – it’s a great resource.

Goodbye to Chris Spaulding

It is with mixed emotions that I reflect on Chris Spaulding’s departure from ACC.  During his tenure with ACC, Chris made a tangible, lasting impact.  Just take a look at the various titles he held:

  • 2013: Assistant, Membership & Administration
  • 2014: Coordinator of Membership Development & Social Media
  • 2015: Coordinator of Communications
  • 2016: Manager of Communications

Chris’s legacy with ACC will be, without question, the Young Professionals Forum, which continues to be the gold standard group for up and coming airport professionals. Not only did Chris have a positive impact on ACC that will benefit its members for years to come, but he also made a name for himself within the entire industry, which was confirmed when he was named a Top 40 Under 40 by Airport Business.  ACC staff and members will certainly miss Chris’s enthusiasm and dedication, and we wish him all the best as he begins his career as an airport planner with Jacobsen|Daniels.  We look forward to seeing him at future ACC meetings!

Kudos to ACC Staff

ACC president, T.J. Schulz, continues to provide great visibility for ACC.  He started off the year testifying in front the House Committee on Homeland Security (transcript available here) and was quoted in the New York Times in May and August.  We are very fortunate to have such a nimble, active and dedicated staff.  Following the ACC Board of Directors meeting in Alexandria on August 9, a reception was held at ACC’s office in Firehouse Square.  It was a great opportunity for board members and other ACC members to see firsthand ACC’s office and to meet all of the staff members, including the new education coordinator, Lisa Deyo.

Upcoming Events

ACC’s 38th Annual Conference and Exposition will be held November 14-16 at the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  I hope you’ll join me!  The venue looks incredible, and I’m really looking forward to the experience of being at such a prestigious location that hosts an annual PGA tournament.  This year’s conference chair, Brad McAllister of AirIT, along with an entire committee of ACC members, has worked hard over the past year to pull together an agenda with fabulous topics and noteworthy speakers.  The keynote presentation by Andrej Avelini of EFCG is sure to strike a chord with members providing professional services.  There are still sponsorship opportunities available – please contact ACC if you would like to get some great exposure and recognition at the event.

ACC will have a booth at the ACI NA/World Annual Conference in Montreal September 25-28, and I will be on hand to assist T.J. Schulz  Colleen Flood and Matt Griffin with the important task of outreach to both current and prospective members.  If you’re planning on being in Montreal next week, stop by for some ACC candy and a new iPhone holder!

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or ideas to share, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  Have a fantastic fall, and I hope to see each of you at ACC’s Annual Conference.


Don Bergin
2016 Board of Directors Chair

Don can be reached at
Follow Don on Twitter @Bergin_Don



May 25, 2016

Part of the vision of ACC is to provide networking and information exchange opportunities for its membership.  An excellent example of this is the annual ACC/AAAE Leadership Breakfast, an event that I have enjoyed every year since joining ACC.  The breakfast takes place during the AAAE Annual Conference and Exposition which, this year, was in Houston.

We had a record number of attendees at this year’s breakfast.  With a format that provides ACC members an opportunity to engage AAAE airport delegates in a lively discussion, it was a resounding success.  The theme of this year’s AAAE Annual Conference was The Power to Connect, and the breakfast was certainly a powerful example of the great ideas and synergies that are generated when more than 90 industry leaders gather for a hot buffet!

ACC President T.J. Schulz, AAAE President/CEO Todd Hauptli, and AAAE Chair Jeff Mulder with Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust joined me in providing welcoming remarks and helped set the stage for the event.  The standard format for this breakfast is to mix ACC and AAAE members in small groups to discuss assigned topics and, at the conclusion, a spokesperson for each group shares the salient points of the discussion with the entire audience.

The topics for this year’s breakfast were diverse, as were the thought provoking and, in some cases, highly entertaining discussions:

  • Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS)…How is it working and how can it be expanded? The consensus was that QBS yields the highest quality product and is in the overall best interest of the industry; however, the less complicated and regulated the process, the better.
  • Industry Conferences…There are so many to choose from, how do we decide which to attend? It was surprising that some organizations plan what conferences to attend more than two years in advance, and that networking opportunities are more important than the destination itself.
  • The Big Picture…What are the major concerns and threats that affect our industry? The pilot shortage, barriers to entry for startup airlines and global competition were some of the common themes the audience viewed as industry threats.
  • Changes…What changes would you make to your airport? Better WiFi, improved stress relievers such as additional therapy dogs and more music, and the ever-popular added power outlets were popular changes the audience would like to see at their airports.
  • Young Professionals…How is your airport or company developing the next generation of airport professionals? The development of young professionals continues to be a major theme at ACC events.  Developing mentor programs with their respective airports/organizations, being flexible (and respectful!) of Millennials’ priorities were common themes at tables with this topic.

Not to downplay the importance of these two themes, but for the first time that I can remember, this breakfast was held without a mention the words NextGen or reauthorization. It was great to hear the attendees discuss some fresh topics with, considering the early hour, a surprising amount of energy.

​ACC members attending AAAE’s annual conference in Long Beach next year should consider taking advantage of this great networking opportunity provided by ACC.  In the near term, I’m looking forward to connecting with fellow members at upcoming ACC events.  This summer’s calendar highlights include the ACI-NA/ACC/AGC Airport Construction Strategy Summit (June 8-9, 2016), ACC/TSA Security Capabilities Workshop(July 19-21, 2016), and ACC Airports Technical Workshop (August 10-11, 2016).

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or ideas to share, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  Have a fantastic summer, and I hope to see each of you at ACC’s 38th Annual Conference & Exposition this fall.

Don Bergin
2016 Board of Directors Chair



January 28, 2016

Greetings ACC members!  As we begin 2016, I am pleased to provide an update to ACC’s membership on the many exciting and newsworthy developments related to the activities of our association.

ACC Launches New Member Recognition Program

At the annual conference last November, ACC launched a new program that recognizes long term members of the association.  Under the program, member firms that reach 10, 20 and 30-year milestones will be acknowledged in the directory, on the website and in ACC’s 2015 ACC Annual Report. Thank you to all members, particularly those with a long history of membership, for your ongoing commitment to make ACC the premier association representing the interests of private business entities active in the airport industry.

I had a chance to ask Steve Benson of Coffman Associates, a 30-year member firm, what he considers one of the most important benefits of ACC membership. “I feel the main benefit to us has been having a presence for our industry in Washington, D.C.,” said Benson.  “Whether it be on the Hill or at FAA, it is good to have our own presence.  While we have many common interests with other aviation alphabet groups, we must also provide our own input as the consultants for airports.”

Reaching for the Stars: A Successful Annual Conference

We had a fantastic 37th annual conference in Newport Beach, California last November with a record high attendance. Thanks to everyone who attended! Highlights included a productive morning of outdoor volunteer service at the Environmental Nature Center (thanks to 2015 Board Chair Carol Lurie of VHB for starting this tradition several years back), a successful golf tournament that somehow avoided getting rained out on the one rainy day of the conference, the always popular “speed dating” networking sessions (thanks to Faith Varwig of Faith Group for coordinating), excellent presentations and discussions with a diverse group of subject matter experts, and a memorable evening reception with an assortment of carnival games and tournaments for both pool and card players (in spite of the best intentions of David Full of RS&H and Jim Wilson of Jacobson|Daniels, I still don’t understand euchre).  A very big thanks to Forrest Swonsen of TransCore and the entire conference planning committee for putting so much time and energy into what was certainly one of the best annual conferences to date.   I know that Brad McAllister of AirIT, an Amadeus company, has some exciting plans for the 2016 annual conference, which will be held November 14-16 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  Mark your calendar!

Global Business Summit Goes, Well, Global

The first ACC Global Business Summit I attended was held in Dallas back in 2006.  Although The Republic of Texas does not quite qualify as an international conference destination, the event provided helpful tips to attendees on the do’s and don’ts of international business. Subsequent summits were held in Washington D.C. and provided attendees with opportunities to hear industry experts share their strategies for succeeding in the global marketplace.  Thanks, in large part, to the vision of ACC Past Board Chair Terry Ruhl of CH2M, the GBS was held for the first time outside of North America. The 2015 summit was co-organized by ACC and the British Aviation Group (BAG) and held in London early last December. The event was a success on all fronts, and it was rewarding to see ACC members from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa and the Middle East participate in the summit along with our counterparts from BAG (many of whom are also ACC member firms).  We look forward to future collaboration with BAG on similar events.

YP Innovation Competition

If you have attended any ACC events in the past several years, you have certainly heard the term “YP”, which refers to ACC’s Young Professional Forum.  This forum, which has rapidly become a focus of the association, provides new members of our industry with opportunities to both learn the tools of the trade from seasoned veterans and contribute their own ideas and concepts.  Last December, ACC announced the winners of the 2015 ACC YP Innovation Competition.  I had an opportunity to view all of the submissions and was very impressed with the quality of the proposals and the truly innovative ideas the YP teams developed (the selection committee certainly did not have an easy task in selecting the winners).  Congratulations to the winning teams, and thanks to all participants for your contributions.

ACC Staff on the National Stage

It was thrilling to watch ACC President T.J. Schulz testify in front of the House Homeland Security Committee's Transportation Security Subcommittee.  He was the sole member of his panel and discussed the Security Manufacturer Coalition (SMC)’s views on improving the equipment acquisition process in the context of the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act. T.J. encouraged additional industry engagement on new and innovative technologies and the importance of streamlining the process of equipment testing and approval.  ACC and the SMC are certainly in good hands with T.J. at the helm.

Chris Spaulding, now in his second year on ACC’s staff, was recognized by Airport Business Magazine as a 2015 Top 40 Under 40, which highlights outstanding, up and coming professionals in the airport industry.  This is a well deserved award for Chris, and ACC is certainly benefiting from his passion for the airport industry, as evidenced by the association’s strong social media presence and his outstanding coordination of the YP Forum.  Congratulations on this well deserved recognition, Chris!

FAA Funding

One of the great benefits of ACC membership, particularly from my personal perspective of a small company with limited resources to closely monitor federal funding matters, are the regular Legislative Alerts sent via e-mail by ACC Headquarters.  It was with great relief that I read the update sent by ACC Headquarters on December 23, 2015 that provided highlights of the FY 2016 appropriations bill that allocated $16.28 billion to the FAA, including $3.35 billion in AIP funding.  This was excellent news that, undoubtedly, will positively affect all ACC members.  Hopefully future updates are equally positive and encouraging.  I, for one, will be watching my inbox for updates from ACC on this matter.

Upcoming ACC Events

Despite a massive snowstorm, ACC held a well attended Construction Admin & Observation Training Course on January 26-27 in Philadelphia.  This course provided participants an in-depth understanding of the purpose, objectives, and accepted methods associated with Construction Administration and Observation for projects using FAA AIP and PFC funds. The focus of the course was on how airport sponsors of FAA grant projects should administer and observe their projects in order to follow applicable rules and regulations.

The symposium heads (farther) west! The ACC-AAAE Airport Planning, Design and Construction Symposium will be held in the Salt Palace Convention Center March 2-4, 2016 in Salt Lake City. The fact that this year’s symposium is being held in a convention center is an indication that the event has simply outgrown the space offered by most hotels. Kelly Kelli of PCL Construction will be serving as chair of the event, and has been working diligently with the entire symposium committee to pull together a program that is sure to meet the high standards the industry has come to expect from this event.  If you are interested in taking full advantage of El Niño and the amazing snow in Utah, Grice Whiteley of Grice Group is, once again, organizing a ski trip that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

I hope to see many of you in Salt Lake City or on the slopes of Park City at what I am sure will be another fantastic ACC event. In the meantime, I look forward to working closely with the ACC board of directors, committees and staff on supporting initiatives underway to grow and enhance the membership of the association, which will entail regular visits to ACC’s Headquarters, housed in a historical building known as “Firehouse Square” in a quaint section of Old Town, Alexandria.

Don Bergin
2016 Board of Directors Chair