SPOTLIGHT ON: SUN Finance and Administration Manager Brent Davis

By September 15, 2020Featured

He loves county music. He hates pickles, and when he was 11 years old, the sheriff followed him home, suspicious of underage driving.

The sheriff was right.

But for Brent Davis, that awkward moment in the front yard between his father and the sheriff helped illustrate the value of respect, understanding, and relationships—traits SUN’s new finance and administration manager says have contributed to both his personal and professional success.

“It’s true,” said Davis. “When I knew my father saw the sheriff’s car pulling in the driveway, I jumped out of the truck and ran for the house.”

However, as most rural folks know, farm kids driving pickups during the day are usually hard at work supporting the family business, not joyriding.

“The sheriff figured it out pretty quickly,” Davis explained. “And he told my father, ‘just keep him on the back roads.’”

Hard at work.

That’s how the 6-foot-5-inch, 260-pound Davis says you’ll find him, most days.

Growing up in rural California, approximately 35 miles north of Fresno, Davis said his experience on his family’s two turkey farms taught him the value of hard work and forced him to grow up quickly.

“Basically, at 9, 10, and 11 years of age, I had the responsibility of a grown man,” he said. “We had two farms with a combined size of 80 acres and raised close to 200,000 turkeys each year. It was a very different life from kids who grew up in the city.”

Davis, who joined the Friedman Memorial Airport staff on Sept. 8, said hard work, honesty, and the fact a true handshake held more weight than a signature were values instilled in him at a very young age.

“And you always kept your word,” he said, “regardless of the circumstances.”

For many years, smaller family-held farms were among the bellwether indicators of California’s prosperous agricultural industry. That is until large commercial operators began moving into the valley in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They were looking to acquire and consolidate the remnants of smaller operations, taking them out of the hands of families that have farmed them for generations.

Long-term drought, high-feed costs, and other woes pushed local farmers during this time to either sell or file for bankruptcy.

Davis watched his parents struggle and eventually succumb to the situation.

“At the end of the family business, my parents were forced to file Chapter 13 for relief,” he recalled. “And in court, my dad insisted on everyone being paid back.”

However, as Davis explained, some of the debt could not be rolled up into the bankruptcy filing, for various reasons.

“But my dad, keeping to his word, went out and made separate arrangements on his own, and made sure everyone—everyone—was going to get the money they were owed.”

And they did.

Davis, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Occidental College, said he had originally planned to take that degree and go into law enforcement. However, after graduation he found himself in Glendale, California, working in the mortgage industry.

That job led to a transfer to Boise, Idaho where he worked in small business lending and was the top small business banker in the state.

“I’d help not only with lending but helping create business plans, setting up merchant services and such,” he said. “I did everything.”

Well. Almost everything.

The one thing that Davis refused to do was treat people poorly.

“For me, the way I was raised, it’s all about relationships and how you treat people,” he explained.

Davis observed an incident where an employee was mistreated and he began to realize his value system and that of the company was far from congruent.

“So, I left and took a job at Home Depot.”

Although his new job came with a pay cut, it did come with potential.

It kept him in the area long enough for his wife to stumble on to a job announcement that would lead him to the City of Boise as a budget analyst.

“Yes, my wife Lori, showed me this job announcement, so I applied,” said Davis. “And like three weeks later I had an interview.”

Davis said he felt confident about the interview, as he does well under pressure, but was not expecting what happened next.

“Literally, 15 to 20 minutes after that interview—I had just walked in the door, and the phone rang and I was offered the job.”

During his tenure, Davis focused on restoring strong relationships within the organization and streamlining operations.

“When I started there, we had a 600-page budget,” laughed Davis. “I eventually got it down to 130 pages, and it wasn’t that we were sacrificing anything, it was more of a case where there were so many ornaments on the Christmas tree it was about to fall over.”

He would remain with the City of Boise for a decade, rising to become the city budget manager.

But Davis will tell you, despite all the glitzy possibilities a big city offers, he prefers the comfort of a small town.

Fascinated by airports, it would take a couple of short-term positions for Davis to make his way to Idaho Falls where he accepted a position as the administration manager for the Idaho Falls Regional Airport.

“It was a great opportunity to get my feet wet at the ground level,” he said.

But less than a year later, Friedman Memorial Airport would post a job announcement that would bring Davis and his family to the Wood River Valley.

“I saw the job posting and knew that this would be an even better opportunity to grow and narrow my focus,” he said. “So I said, ‘I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna apply.’”

This, as Davis suggests is where the value of honesty and relationship building can really pay off.

“I never burn a bridge and have always had good relationships with my former employers,” he said. “As a matter of fact, one of my references for the job at SUN was a former employer.”

Davis says he’s delighted to join the team on SUN.

“I’m super excited to be here,” he said. “The vibe is good and there are a lot of super- talented people here.” I look forward to taking on my new role and being a team player and delivering the goals laid out by the airport board.”

Davis is joined here at SUN by his wife Lori of 13 years, his sons Austin, 11 and Grayson, 4.

A self-proclaimed sports addict, Davis enjoys watching all things competitive from basketball to professional curling. He’s an avid outdoorsman and is pretty handy with a wrench. Davis recently restored a 1986 Dodge pickup. Before the COVID-19 travel
restrictions, he and his wife enjoy cruising, listing the Caribbean as one of their favorite locations.

On his Pandora channel, you’ll find Dave Matthews, Garth Brooks, and other classic country artists. On his list of favorite foods, you’ll find he is a fan of Thai. For everything else, please hold the pickles.

“I hate pickles, and pretty much anything touched by vinegar,” he chuckled. “ And mustard runs a close second.”