03:47 AM

Employee Spotlight: Jeff Phillips, GA Maintenance Lead

Jeff Phillips spends most hours in his day alone, working in solitude as a one-man repair shop at Plant City Airport. He’s never bored, though.

“I take a lot of pride in this airport,” he said. “It’s always interesting out here.”

Whether he’s mowing several acres of grass, fixing a broken hangar door, inspecting runway lights, scaring off the wildlife or plumbing a toilet, Phillips always has plenty to do to stay busy. As the sole General Aviation Maintenance Lead for PCM, one of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority’s three small public-use airports, he keeps a running checklist every day to ensure everything at the airport is safe and running smoothly.

“Here, you’re the electrician, the plumber, the mechanic, the yard guy,” Phillips said. “You’re the first eyes on everything.”

It’s somewhat of a dream job for Phillips, who loves being outdoors and enjoys working with a smaller and more close-knit team at PCM.

Born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Phillips moved with his parents to the Tampa Bay area when he was a baby and has been a Floridian ever since. His dad was an electrician and Phillips fell into the same trade and passion, figuring out early that he loved working with his hands and understanding how things operated.

After a graduating from Armwood High School and briefly attending community college, he decided academic life wasn’t for him and joined the U.S. Army, working as a tanker for three years.

When he got out, he found a lot of his friends were making a good living doing electrical work so he mastered that trade and did odd jobs until landing a full-time position in the Hillsborough County Water Department. By that time, he and his wife had a young son and Phillips liked having a more steady job with benefits.

In 2010, a friend working at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority convinced him that Tampa International Airport was the place to be so Phillips applied and began working in the Building Maintenance department as a multi-trades worker.

Living in Plant City already, Philips was familiar with PCM and volunteered to work at the annual Planes, Trains & Automobiles event there. When a position opened up for PCM’s Maintenance Lead, Phillips jumped on it.

“It’s the best job I ever had,” Phillips said.

Phillips loves the rural Plant City community, where he spends time with his wife Felicia and his two dogs, and also where he proudly raised his son Logan, who is now 21. Even though he spends his entire work week outside, he still craves the outdoors in his free time. He kayaks, goes fishing and rides dirt bikes on evenings and weekends. Or when given the chance, he might save someone’s life.

When Monday morning comes – or whenever he gets a call to fix something – he loves reporting to work, which sometimes doesn’t feel like work at all.

“It’s like taking care of your home,” Phillips said. “How the airport is maintained is a reflection on you.”