A rising star

headshot image of Clinton Torp.UWL alumnus Clinton Torp earned a Master’s in Business Administration degree from UWL in 2011. Torp, La Crosse Regional Airport director, serves on the board of the 7 Rivers Alliance and is a member of the La Crosse Downtown Rotary Club.

Nearly half of region’s young professionals honored for making a difference are UWL alumni

UWL Alumnus Clinton Torp is opening up the La Crosse region to more positive first impressions via an important gateway.

Since he started his position as the La Crosse Regional Airport director in 2012, Torp, ’11, has digitized airport processes to maximize efficiency and improved customer service. With help from state and federal grants, he led efforts to completely renovate the interior of the airport — a change that improved the facility’s capacity and flow while modernizing the look and energy efficiency.

His work landed him on the list of 24 young professionals selected by The La Crosse Tribune and 7 Rivers Alliance as “Rising Stars Under 40.” Nearly half of the Rising Stars on the 2017 list were UWL alums. They include:

  • Rachel Albrecht, ’13, Gundersen Health System
  • Matthew Brantner, ’05, WisCorps
  • Justin Garvey, ’08, Metre
  • Curt Greeno, ’06, Dynamic Recycling
  • Justin Jehn, ’04, School District of West Salem
  • Garrett Jerue, ’07, The Insurance Center
  • Jennifer Kuderer, ’03, Wisconsin Economic Development Cooperation
  • Nathaniel Melby, ’02, Dairyland Power
  • Shaundel Spivey, ’12, School District of La Crosse
  • Clinton Torp, ’11, La Crosse Regional Airport

Profiled in the La Crosse Tribune this fall, the group shares a passion for serving others through work and public service. They are “dynamic young entrepreneurs and leaders” who are making a positive difference in the three-state region of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Torp, who earned his MBA at UWL, says this education allowed him to incorporate bigger picture ideas at the airport. One of the first things he did was begin marketing and branding efforts, which led to transforming how the airport operates.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat calls Torp a city leader at the forefront of process improvements for greater customer service and efficiency.

“As a part of local government, there are a lot of constraints placed on us with resources and the budget. Clinton is always looking for creative ways to improve the customer experience. I think that is a big feather in his cap.” – La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat.

Torp has also been heavily involved in communicating the needs of the airport from pilot shortages to the loss of customers to other markets. He secured funding for the $15 million airport renovation completed in 2016. The project dramatically changed the look and functionality of the 25-year-old terminal.

Some of the changes included expanding the waiting area to the second floor and using freed up space on the first-floor for ticketing, baggage and vehicle rental services.

“As a municipality-owned airport, Clinton is always innovative while also conscious of how to pull in all resources to be a good steward of this very important economic and leisure link for our region,” says Vicki Markussen, executive director of the Greater La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce who nominated Torp for the award.

Torp represents the city and region really well, says Kabat. “The airport was already a great asset, but he raised the bar several notches in terms of what the airport means to our area.”

Torp had dreams of becoming a pilot from a young age. His parents are both U.S. Air Force veterans, and his great grandfather was an airplane mechanic. Still he doesn’t regret his decision to study business instead, which landed him on the business-side of aviation.

“I look at what I do here as more of a personal endeavor than work,” says Torp. “I enjoy the challenges that come up — taking ideas and concepts and turning them into tangible things that help the community and improve our region.”