Big Ass Fans comes to airport

jhewlett@herald-leader.comJanuary 18, 2010 

Blue Grass Airport and Big Ass Fans apparently are in each other's good graces these days.

That wasn't the case two years ago when Big Ass Fans' offer of $45,000 for advertising space in the airport's baggage claim was denied. At issue was the company's name and the rejection prompted the Lexington producer of industrial fans company to issue a press release.

Now, there is a great big Big Ass Fan in the airport's terminal. The commercial ceiling fan was installed earlier this month at a cost to the airport of $9,900. The airport's new fan, one piece of a major ongoing terminal renovation, is located near the security checkpoint. It's 20 feet in diameter and painted white. It moves as much air as 36 ordinary 52-inch ceiling fans while using 75 percent less energy. It can improve the efficiency of the airport's heating and air conditioning units by as much as 30 percent, said company spokeswoman Laci Poulter

A small plaque about the fan and the company that made it will be installed on a nearby wall.

"We're trying to be more energy efficient," said airport spokesman Brian Ellestad. "They showed us the energy efficiency of it. That's why we have it in our terminal."

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilman Ed Lane, who is Mayor Jim Newberry's representative on the airport board, was instrumental in bringing the two sides together. He decided to visit Big Ass Fans after he became an airport board member last year.

"After I met them I was so impressed," he said. He suggested that the board ought to reconsider having a Big Ass Fans presence.

Two years ago, the airport wouldn't accept the three-year deal with the fan company, even after it tossed in free ceiling fans for several airport areas and proposed putting up a sign with "Big Ass Fans" in smaller lettering than it had originally planned.

Lane said he thinks Big Ass Fans is more sophisticated in its advertising now, not so "in your face."

"Big Ass has like 120 employees, and they're an international and global company. They sell fans all over the world," Lane said, noting that the commercial and industrial fan company's customers include airports throughout the world and the U.S. military. "This is a high-tech manufacturing company. These are very sophisticated products."

Paulter said a change in the regime at the airport and her company's products helped lead to the more cordial relationship between the airport and the fan company. She said she didn't think either party focused on the problems of the past when the airport fan deal was ironed out.

Lane said there are "absolutely" no hard feelings. As for the fan "it adds a kind of nice wow factor to the airport," she added.There are Big Ass Fans at Chicago O'Hare and Tampa International airports and at other airports, including some in the Caribbean.

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

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