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New Market Development Touts Unique Approach

Editor’s Note: New Market Development, an Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise-certified development firm, was formed in 2021 and immediately set its sights on the concessions developer contract at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).

The RFP for the BWI contract was issued in summer 2022 and in November, the Maryland Aviation Administration recommended New Market Development for the contract, However,  after concerns were raised by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General and a lawsuit was filed by incumbent developer Fraport, the state opted to rebid the contract. The timeline for the rebid has not been revealed.

New Market Development is comprised of several long-time industry players and is majority owned by Major Riddick, who has operated concessions at BWI for 19 years through his company Great Foods BWI, LLC. Former Fraport Group executive Brett Kelly serves as chief operating officer, while Jay Kruisselbrink, who previously held roles at SSP America and Fraport, serves as chief commercial officer. Other executives include Chris Diamondidis, vice president of finance, and Roy I. Dabney III, assistant vice president of operations.

AXN’s Carol Ward recently spoke with Riddick and Kelly about their goals for New Market Development.

Ward: Can you share your vision for New Market Development?

Riddick: We signed our first airport lease in 2004 and we’ve been the longest continuous operating company and concession operator at BWI during that 19-year period. When we first opened, I met Jay Kruisselbrink. I met Brett Kelly a few years later and developed a great bond [with both men]. When we heard that the state was going to put a concession developer contract out to bid, and we thought that could be interesting.

I put together a company and invited Jay and Brett to be part of the team. We have a team [comprised of long-term players in] concession development and operations, architecture, construction, and project management. We developed great resources, great relationships around the country with people with financial resources, concession operators that could lend a great element of pop and sizzle to the new concepts and new innovations that we will provide.

While we needed that experience, we also wanted to make sure that we had an understanding of the demographics at BWI and an understanding of what the passenger wants. Technology now has to be an important element in almost every operation. Our customers and passengers now demand a bit more innovation, and demand and expect a bit more convenience.

Kelly: I’d like to add that after doing business with Major over the years, we came to understand that we shared some very important values. Those values in the airport space are a commitment to economic opportunity for minority-owned and under-represented communities and a passion for win-win solutions. COVID shined a light on a lot of the things in the industry that might be stacked against small businesses, we’re talking about things like big [minimum annual guarantees], big costs to build, labor costs and supply chain issues.

In our proposal to BWI, we were very keen on illustrating to the airport that we can help them in ways that maybe they hadn’t imagined. We did not view it as a concessions development RFP. We viewed it as a passenger experience RFP. That doesn’t mean that we don’t perform all the responsibilities of the contract to the very, very best of our abilities. It doesn’t mean that we’re distracted with things that are outside of our purview. But what it does mean is that we look at the partnership with an airport in a very different way.

I believe that we’ve put together a better way of doing things. I believe that COVID revealed some real issues for businesses of a certain size in our industry.  One of the benefits that we have in working in state buildings is this creating opportunity for minority owned businesses and underserved communities that leads to authentic ownership. And that authenticity leads to a better experience, which leads to higher sales, which leads to more money. I don’t believe that this is something that we can only do at BWI. I believe that this is something that we can do in a lot of places and be very effective.

When the recommendation was turned back in favor of a rebid, we had planned for that. We knew that could be a possibility. We are here for the long haul because we believe we’ve got a better mousetrap.

Ward: What’s the timeframe on the rebid of the BWI contract?

Kelly: They have not yet published a schedule, but we are here for the long haul and when the schedule is published, we’ll be ready.

Ward: As you’re waiting on the BWI rebid, what else is in the works for New Market Development?

Riddick: We’re trying to make sure that our priority focus is BWI, because that’s our home airport. But we know that DCA (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport) is going through their process and we’re to figure out whether the timing is right for us to participate in that as well. Then there are some others coming up that also are [interesting] – we have some great partners and we’re looking to see what opportunities might be right for us.