AMAC member Ben Zandi is the new President and CEO of Fraport USA. He is responsible for overseeing the North American operations of the parent company and its award – winning airport concessions program, Airmall, in four major airports. A global airport company, Fraport serves more than 230 million travelers in 24 airports and nine countries.
Zandi is a man who relishes adventure. He feels he has been fortunate to have a fair allotment of exciting experiences in his life and career.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Zandi’s family moved to Germany just before revolution ended Shah Mohammad Reza’s regime. Zandi was sent to be educated in a boarding school in England, then as a teenager in 1978, he moved to Northern California to live with his uncle and attend high school and college.
Throughout those years, he recalls, he took various jobs in the hospitality industry to help support himself. “I worked as a waiter, a busboy, and a food dispenser. My experience has been from ground level,” Zandi said.
In the spring of 1987, he attended a job fair where he was offered a position with Marriott International.
“I worked in their aviation division and travelled around the country to their airport facilities helping to maximize the guest experience,” he says. “This was before we had surveys and statistics rely on and I discovered that I had a good instinct, an intuition, for anticipating customer needs.”
His training with Marriott was significant, Zandi said. “The company believed in investing in their professional staff and offered numerous educational opportunities to prepare for progressive leadership.”
Zandi worked for Marriott for 13 years then struck out on his own as owner and operator of Zanick Inc., a regional restaurant group and consulting firm based in Bristol, Tenn. He grew his business to more than $15 million in annual revenue then sold it 12 years later.
He joined Airmall following his role as executive vice president of operations of PGHC Inc., a privately owned restaurant company based in Dedham, Mass. with annual revenue of $250 million.
Now, with more than 30 years of experience in hospitality design, development and operations and airport concessions, Zandi has a record of increasing shareholder value and exceeding revenue and profitability goals. He is certified by the Management and Strategy Institute as a Six Sigma Black Belt Professional.
Community service is also a priority in his life, and he has served as a city councilman and vice mayor of Bristol and has been the president of multiple nonprofit organizations. He shares with AMAC a commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the airport industry.
“My own life gives me great perspective on AMAC’s mission,” Zandi says. “I believe that it is our responsibility to pull the next generation of diverse young professionals and business owners forward. This is the profound legacy that we must leave behind.”