ST. GEORGE – On Wednesday morning, a Boeing 757 arrived at St. George Municipal Airport carrying 176 sales demonstrators from the Kanab-based direct-sales-company, Stampin’ Up!
Stampin’ Up! chartered the flight to reward their top-performing international sales demonstrators with a tour of their production facilities in Kanab Utah, the birthplace of the company. The sales demonstrators have come to Southern Utah from as far as France, Germany, The United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
The family-owned company was founded in 1988 in Kanab, but it has since grown into a $190 million, international sales and manufacturing organization. However, Stampin’ Up! has maintained close ties to the local community.
“All of our manufacturing is housed in Kanab; we are the third largest employer there,” Stampin’ Up’s president, Rich Jutkins, said. Shelli Gardener, the CEO and founder of the company has lived in Kanab for most of her life. “She has committed to that community that she would never pull her business from there,” Jutkins said.
The flight itself was a milestone for St. George Municipal Airport.
“We’ve been open two and a half years; we’re starting to see a lot of charters, such as this 757,” Airport Operations Supervisor Brad Kitchen said. “In two and a half years, we’ve gained a Denver Flight,” he said. Kitchen also said that chartered flights at the airport have increased over 40 percent in the last two years. “Now we’re starting to see larger aircraft like this 757.”
The Boeing 757 is the largest commercial flight to land at the new airport since it’s construction. The runway – as it is currently designed – can only handle a limited amount of traffic from large aircraft, such as the Boeing 757. Increases in large charter flights enhances the ability of the airport to court the business of airlines with larger planes that may establish flights between St. George and other major cities.
The airport’s current runway is able to handle 500 Boeing 737s per year, and far fewer 757s. Daily flights of such aircraft would require an additional 2″ of asphalt – at a cost of millions of dollars – which Kitchen said the airport can largely finance with federal grant money.
The airport can extend the life of the current runway by waiting to add any new lifts until the need arises. The FAA requires that the runway be resurfaced periodically, and such a resurfacing may well coincide with an increased demand for larger commuter flights, justifying an increase to the thickness of the asphalt.
Yesterday’s 757 landing shows that the airport is progressing and attracting business that could not have taken place with the old airport, Kitchen said. It shows that the airport, as well as the city, is growing.
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