David Ickert’s legacy is Air Tractor’s world-class financial team.
After 31 years of service, Air Tractor Vice President of Finance David Ickert has retired. Ickert’s contributions to the agricultural aircraft manufacturer’s success range from creating a world-class financial team to cementing Air Tractor’s reputation as a trustworthy partner to customers and financial institutions alike, says Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch.
“One of the first things David Ickert did was to take over managing the company’s finances. This freed our founder Leland Snow to focus on engineering groundbreaking airplanes like the AT-802,” Hirsch says. A few years later, Ickert spearheaded Air Tractor’s international financing initiative.
Ickert and his wife Marilynn returned to Olney in 1976. It was Marilynn who initially went to work for Air Tractor. In 1989, David joined her.
“Being an engineer, Leland was a very precise person,” Ickert recalls. “He was certainly not one to do anything halfway, but it stretched his time to do all the engineering, all of the marketing, and then all of the accounting and the finance. I think he had just reached a point that he was ready to bring in some help.”
David not only assumed the accounting and finance role, but it quickly became apparent that Ickert was an excellent fit for a company that thrived on innovation and intellectual curiosity.
“David is always reading and keeping up with the markets, doing research, and figuring out what’s next, and how our airplanes fit into that,” Hirsch notes. “Ickert’s ability to organize the finance and accounting helped provide really helpful strategic insights for our very specialized company.”
Ickert also contributed to strengthening Air Tractor’s rock solid financial reputation, but for Ickert that was merely his job. “It’s no different from the airplane that Leland designed and produced,” Ickert says. Customers know what they’re getting when they purchase an Air Tractor airplane. And in the area of the business that I’ve been involved with, I hope we’ve been able to create the same confidence with financial institutions, insurance companies, suppliers and others we work with. As an organization, I think people know what we say and what we do is gospel,” he adds. “We’ve built a reputation. I am pleased that I have been able to play a part in an organization that is respected and well thought of.”
Under Ickert’s leadership, Air Tractor established an international financing team that’s respected across the globe. “Leland was proud of what David did, particularly in the export finance,” says Hirsch. “Leland was the one that said to David, ‘If we can figure out how to get financing to people abroad, we could sell more airplanes.’ That was the impetus that sent David off on the trail of figuring out how to get a farmer in another country a loan to buy an airplane.”
“The international financing program has changed Air Tractor for the better,” Hirsch says. “In the early 1990s, we exported just a few planes. Now, export is much bigger. A lot of this export growth is based on the market development stewarded by David Ickert and the team that continues to do this important work at Air Tractor.”
What does retirement look like for Ickert? “I have seven grandkids, so chasing them around and watching their activities is a high priority,” Ickert says. Longtime hobbies of book, coin, and baseball memorabilia collections will receive attention, too. “Marilynn has ‘encouraged’ me to organize that stuff, and that’s going to take some time.”
“We can’t thank David enough for his hard work and dedication, the long hours,” Hirsch says. “He’s been passionate about our business. There’s nothing more one can ask of a team member.”
Jeremy Prather, who joined Air Tractor in September, is the company’s new Chief Financial Officer. He serves as financial and strategic advisor to the Air Tractor president and leadership team.