15:17 PM

Airport CEO Joe Lopano returns to his roots with a stint in the mail room

(June 30, 2015) - Joe Lopano made his first foray into the aviation industry nearly 40 years ago as a mail clerk for Pan American World Airways in New York.

Joe Lopano delivers mail for United Way

On Monday afternoon, the Tampa International Airport CEO returned to his roots, delivering mail to all corners of the airport as part of TPA’s United Way Suncoast Giving campaign.

To encourage participation in the campaign, Lopano agreed to spend time working in whichever department saw the greatest year-over-year increase in donations. While all departments contributed to the record-breaking campaign that raised more than $96,000, Ethics, Compliance, Diversity & Administration had the biggest jump, increasing its contributions by 118.5 percent. The department decided to put Mr. Lopano to work delivering mail.

Donning a blue button down and khakis, a smiling Lopano walked into Central Records on Monday afternoon ready to start his new job.

“Hey, what’s going on in Central Records?” he asked a group of employees who had gathered to see the CEO in his new job. “You got any mail here?”

After introductions, he briefly learned about his new trade. The mail room at Tampa International gets about 30,000 pieces of incoming mail a year and sends out another 12,000. More than 90 percent of Airport employees view the mail staff as friendly, responsible, timely and accurate. Roughly $90 million in checks and cash pass through the doors.

“Where’s that?” Lopano deadpanned. “Let’s start there.”

Everyone laughed.

While loading up the mail cart, Lopano commented on the day’s deliveries.

 “Journal of Accountancy … that looks pretty snazzy!” he said.

Wheeling the cart through hallways and past offices, Lopano greeted just about everyone he saw, often earning a double-take.

“Hey, JoAnn, how are you doing?” he said to JoAnn Wieckowicz, a manager of financial planning, as he popped his head into her cubicle. “I got a promotion!”

He delivered a piece of mail to executive secretary Linda Baldwin, “Special delivery!”

“That’s a nice surprise,” she said.

He swung by Operations, Human Resources and the Operations Center. He then hit Planning and Development, Finance and went up to all the offices on the transfer level.

Many greeted Lopano with surprise and laughter. Some commended him for doing a fabulous job. A few chided him for running late.

Jackie Smith, a program coordinator for the Real Estate Department, took a selfie. Marketing Director Kari Goetz gave Lopano a tour of her new office.

Last, he swung through the executive suite.

“Wake up over here,” Lopano called out. “We have a new mail man on duty.”

“Joe, doesn’t this bring back memories?” laughed John Tiliacos, vice president of Operations and Customer Service.

It certainly did.

After he completed his duties, Lopano said that he was happy to help to support United Way Suncoast.

“They’re a great organization doing great things in the community,” Lopano said. “I am always happy to contribute and impressed by the generosity of the entire Aviation Authority team.”