Poberezny Introduces Hightower as New EAA President
Longtime pilot/EAA member only third president in organizationís history; Poberezny to continue active role as chairman
EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. — (July 26, 2010) — Tom Poberezny, chairman and president of the Experimental Aircraft Association, today announced Rod Hightower, a longtime EAA member, pilot and aviation enthusiast who has established a distinguished career in business senior leadership positions, will become EAA’s new president on Sept. 7.
Hightower is only the third president in EAA history and the first outside the Poberezny family. His duties will include directing EAA’s day-to-day operations and EAA’s many member-focused programs. Poberezny will retain an active role as chairman of the organization, a position he has held since March 2009.
“Rod’s selection completes a process that I began in 2005,” said Poberezny, who has served as EAA president since 1989, when he succeeded his father, Paul, who had been president since EAA’s founding in 1953. “He has the passion for aviation that is absolutely essential to serve EAA’s 160,000 members, as well as the extensive business operations background that is necessary to successfully meet the challenges and opportunities ahead for EAA.”
Meanwhile, Poberezny, 63, will utilize his years of experience and relationships that he developed to foster and grow EAA’s business partnerships, philanthropy and the organization’s endowment. He will also remain as chairman of the annual EAA AirVenture fly-in at this time.
“Rod’s skills are complimentary to mine,” Poberezny said. “This will allow the organization to continue to increase value and maximize its impact on members, the industry and the aviation community.”
During more than 25 years of business management and leadership experience, Hightower has led domestic and international business operations with as many as 2,300 employees and annual revenues of up to $470 million. That experience includes positions at Square D Corporation, York, and Public Safety Equipment Corporation.
Hightower is also a vintage aircraft enthusiast, having restored and is currently flying his own Stearman biplane out of Creve Coeur Airport near St. Louis, Mo. He is a director of the National Stearman Foundation and helps organize the annual Stearman National Fly-In.
“This is a very exciting time for EAA and general aviation,” said Hightower, who is attending this week’s EAA AirVenture event with his wife, Maura, and their five children. “I’m honored to be selected as the next leader of such a passionate group of aviation enthusiasts as EAA members, since I’ve long been a part of the organization for more than 20 years. There is much work ahead, but I am eager to start.”
Hightower was selected from more than 700 candidates for the position, including those from inside and outside the aviation industry. EAA was assisted in the search by the international executive recruitment firm Korn/Ferry. The initial group of interested individuals was slimmed to about 100 before selecting candidates and finalists for further interviews.
EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world’s most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA’s 160,000 members and 1,000 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org . For continual news updates, connect with http://twitter.com/EAAupdate .
Rod Hightower’s career spans more than 25 years of business management and senior leadership positions for manufacturing and industrial companies. He has led both U.S. and international operations with as many as 2,300 employees and annual revenues of as much as $470 million, and has led the sales organization for divisions as large as $900 million. Rod has also been the CEO of a private equity portfolio company selling into the law enforcement and military markets.
Along with his business expertise, however, Hightower is a passionate aviation enthusiast. He has been an EAA member for more than 20 years, and restored his own Stearman biplane that he flies out of Creve Coeur Airport near St. Louis. Hightower is also active as a director in the National Stearman Foundation, a volunteer role focused on fundraising and organizing the annual weeklong Stearman National Fly-In.
Hightower grew up in modest circumstances, as his father was a welder with the Ford Motor Company. In order to learn to fly and pay his way through college, Rod started a business when he was 15 years old and kept it operating during his college years before selling it in 1984, two years after his graduation from Central Missouri State University.
Hightower began his career as a sales engineer with two smaller companies engaged in industrial automation and process control before joining Square D Corporation in 1990. His initial assignment was as a sales specialist but he was quickly promoted to lead sales for the entire Midwestern region. He later headed Square D’s channel marketing and was promoted to Vice President in 1996. After rising to lead matrixed sales and marketing across several of Square D’s business units, he joined York Corporation as vice president of North American sales and service for its engineered systems group. He later led a turnaround of York’s EMEA air conditioning business in a general management role, responsible for a $470 million autonomous business with responsibilities on an international level.
After returning to the United States, Hightower became CEO at Public Safety Equipment, a supplier of emergency lighting, radar and video systems used in law enforcement and military applications. He remained in that position until late 2008, although he remains an equity holder in that company.
Hightower is married, and he and his wife, Maura, have five children.