Company says farewell to Rick Turner
OLNEY, Texas — Air Tractor, Inc. President Jim Hirsch announced today the appointment of Mathew Ickert as Director of Production at the company, effective July 2, 2021. This follows the retirement of Vice President of Operations Rick Turner following a 34-year career during which the company grew to become the world’s leading manufacturer of agricultural and firefighting aircraft.
“I am delighted to have Mathew step into this important role,” said Jim Hirsch. ”In emerging agricultural markets around the world, the demand for Air Tractor airplanes is strong and growing. Our focus is to produce more quality airplanes and do it more efficiently. Mathew is the right person to help us continue toward that objective.” Hirsch added.
Mathew Ickert joined Air Tractor in May 2006. His first position was in parts sales—fulfilling parts orders for Air Tractor dealers around the world. In 2011 Ickert became Purchasing Manager, supervising the procurement of all the items that go into Air Tractor airplanes. Ickert became Senior Group Leader to manage the operations of the aircraft assembly lines in Plant 1. In his new role, Ickert will oversee the day-to-day manufacturing operations of the company. He will continue serving on the company’s Operational Excellence Initiative management team.
“During my 15 years here, I’ve come to understand that everyone has a part to play and a task that truly matters in Air Tractor’s mission,” Ickert observed. “The product we provide would not be possible without all those involved in every step of the process. I’ve been fortunate to have the mentorship of Rick Turner for several years now. It will serve me well going forward. I am excited about where Air Tractor is headed.”
Rick Turner began his career at Air Tractor in 1987 working in the wing assembly area. He then moved to production planning for eight years. In 1992 Turner was appointed Group Leader of the Sub-Assembly Department, and in 1994 became a Senior Group leader. In 1996 Turner was named Manager of New Product Development. In 2003, he was promoted to Vice President of Operations. In 2015, Turner oversaw the planning, construction and launch of Air Tractor’s in-house electrocoat primer system for aluminum aircraft parts—the first of its kind for the U.S. aerospace industry. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Olney Industrial Development Corporation.
As a member of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, Turner served as an NAAA Allied Airframe board member, Vice Chairman of the NAAA Safety & Federal Aviation Regulations Committee, and as a board member of the National Agricultural Aviation Research & Education Foundation. In 2019, he was awarded the NAAA Falcon Pin by NAAA President Perry Hofer. This is presented at the discretion of the NAAA president to persons who, through personal effort and dedication, have made substantial contributions to the agricultural aviation industry and its national association.
“Air Tractor has been my life for 34 years,” said Turner. “I am so appreciative of Leland and the Snow family for the opportunities that brought me on this journey. I’ve watched a new generation step up within our fabulous dealer network. The many friendships developed at the National Agricultural Aviation Association, the wonderful people of this industry, and our hardworking supplier representatives are all dear to me. I would not be where I am today without their support.
“The men and women building the airplanes at Air Tractor are my family; they’re the soul of this company. I am so grateful for my wife Kim; she’s my best friend and cheerleader. Kim supported me during the late nights, the days away from home, the 50 and 60-hour work weeks, the ups and downs. I couldn’t have had the career I had without her.” He added, “I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family, especially my granddaughters. I’ll work on my ranch along with my bird dog Ace, maybe get back into golf, and do a bit of consultant work with Air Tractor.”
Jim Hirsch added, “I want to thank Rick Turner for his many years of service and the dedication he has brought to Air Tractor and the ag aviation industry. Without his contribution we would not be where we are today. We wish him all the best.”