Greeted by a concierge employee in a crisp uniform, Belk executives arrive from Charlotte in good spirits. They enter the bright new Wilson Air Center, a LEED certified, state-of-the-art facility that recently made its debut at Chattanooga’s Lovell Field.
Clusters of comfortable and stylish chairs, tables and sofas are arranged in a large, open seating area. Oversized paintings and photographs of the Chattanooga area, created by local artists, hang on the walls washed in rich colors, accented by a large stone fireplace and durable carpets in earthly hues.
“Passengers usually fly in groups of four or five. We have small conversation areas staged throughout, all with flat-screen television monitors,” says David Ivey, vice president of Wilson Air Center. The new terminal includes a welcoming coffee bar, an executive conference room and a fully equipped business center. Hertz rental cars may be procured on-site and a variety of other services may be arranged directly from the center. The hotel-style concierge desk at Wilson Air Center is an innovation for guests on corporate jets flying into the Chattanooga gateway.
Opening its fourth FBO in Chattanooga, Wilson Air Center combined the festivity last August with a benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The event featured a silent auction that raised nearly $11,000 for the hospital. That event served as a good door opener for a company with an established reputation in the Southeast. Three other Southern cities-Charlotte, Memphis and Houston- are currently served by the company. Robert A. Wilson is president of Wilson Air, and the company is part of The Kemmons Wilson Companies. Bob Wilson’s father, the late Kemmons Wilson was the founder and chairman of Holiday Inn and nicknamed the “father of hospitality.” Aside from his own love of aviation, Wilson’s greatest influence has come from the hospitality industry, where service is key.
Ivey says Wilson Air Center customers can expect to receive the same quality service at the new Chattanooga location they get at all locations- “along with the extras that come with building a facility from ground up.” The company has been voted number one in the Professional Pilot “PRASE” Survey four out the past five years and Wilson has won Best FBO for a record nine years in the Aviation International News Annual FBO Survey.
General Manager Glen Rivenbark joined the company in September and is proud to show off the upscale pilot’s lounge complete with two private snooze rooms, a private shower room, a room for filing flight plans, plus bicycles for exclusive use by pilots. Rivenbark came to Wilson Air from the Atlanta area where he managed the Peachtree Dekalb Airport.
Wilson Air Center is LEED certified. The facility has used many efficiency features, such as carpet made of recycled fibers by Tandus and energy efficient lighting. Construction was complete in less than a year and Chattanooga’s Morgan Construction Company was the general contractor.
“The new FBO, managed by Wilson Air, adds another dimension to the aviation services offered at the Chattanooga Airport. That new dimension is competition, the driving force behind lower pricing and better customer service,” says Chattanooga Metro Airport Board President Dan Jacobson. “This strategy fits well within the framework we have already set for our commercial air service, by providing new airlines and routes to ensure that our customers have options.”
There is room for more, according to airport officials who say they have approximately 10 acres open for additional development, as demand warrants.
Visit www.wilsonair.com for more information.
Story by Miles Baker
Photography courtesy of Wilson Air Center
This story was originally published in the Dec 2011/Jan 2012 Issue of Chattanooga Magazine.