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, "Richmond, Va., Airport Welcomes New Manager of Marketing"

December 5, 2000

Richmond, Va., Airport Welcomes New Manager of Marketing
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia

Dec. 5--During two years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Troy Bell helped
artillery zero in on targets.

Now Bell has other targets in sight: Low-fare airlines and better service at
Richmond International Airport.

Bell, 39, started working last Monday as the manager of marketing and air
service development. The job pays $70,000 a year.

He held a similar job at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas --
the former home of Jon Mathiasen, who was hired as Richmond's airport
executive director earlier this year.

"He's a guy with relentless energy," he said of Bell.

But Mathiasen added, "Troy was not sought out -- he applied" for the vacant
marketing job in Richmond.

The airport has not had a marketing director for more than a year, and some
have wondered how long it could go without a head cheerleader and marketer.

Mathiasen said he worked diligently to fill the position, which he began
advertising last summer. He had 20 applicants but narrowed the field to

Then he held a rigorous three-day assessment program, testing the applicants
on everything from computer literacy to airline economics.

Bell stood out because he had a wide range of knowledge and experience of
the aviation business, Mathaisen said, but also knows the all-important
tourism and convention market.

Bell had spent time as sales director at the Rancho Viejo Resort & Country
Club in the Rio Grande Valley close to Harlingen.

"I wanted someone who was more into the business side of the airport,"
Mathiasen said.

Bell's hotel and travel savvy should prove invaluable, Mathiasen said, "in
our efforts to make Richmond a destination for tourism."

Bell knows the hotel and resorts business but also has worked in nuts and
bolts issues like improving air delivery for goods made in factories along
the bustling border of the United States and Mexico.

For local travelers, though, the most interesting part of Bell's risumi may
be his work with that low-fare totin' airline back in Texas -- Southwest

"His most recent accomplishment was adding more direct service with
Southwest" from Harlingen to Dallas, Mathiasen said.

Recruiting Southwest Airlines has been an ongoing effort, not only by
Richmond airport officials, but also by local and state leaders.

Get Southwest, the wisdom goes, and all fares will plummet.

"The Rio Grande market has to be one of the lowest fare markets in the
country, while Richmond, especially in the short-haul market, at times is
one of the highest fare" airports, Bell said. "I can understand the
community's desire" for cheaper tickets.

Bell said he was attracted to this "growing vibrant region," with its
high-tech firms, a growing retail sector and the untapped tourist market.

It doesn't hurt that the downtown convention center is being expanded,

Besides the chase for Southwest or another low-fare carrier, Bell said he'll
be shooting for more air service to top destinations such as New York and

"Competition's going to do some good things," Bell said.

Back in Harlingen, his old boss spoke highly of him as a marketer and as a

Bell is married with three children.

"It seems like we're losing all the good people to Richmond," said Michael
Browning, aviation director at Valley International Airport.

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