It had been two long, sweltering weeks in the middle of a Tampa hot spell when 12-year-old Doyle Wiggins had enough. His family’s air conditioning unit was broken, and no one – not even his father, an air conditioning tech for People’s Gas – seemed motivated to fix it.
So young Doyle began dissembling the unit himself, scattering parts everywhere, trying to figure out what the problem was until his father eventually had to help him replace the motor and put the unit back together. The resulting cool air was such a relief it had a profound impact on the boy.
“I decided that day,” Doyle said, “that I was never going to sweat ever again.”
Fast-forward about 40 years later and you’ll find that Doyle has kept his promise for himself and for everyone at Tampa International Airport, including the nearly 17 million passengers who pass through every year. The Trades Maintenance Superintendent has been keeping TPA cool since 1989, after he left his only other full-time job he’s ever held – as a technician for a residential HVAC company – and came to work for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.
Here, Doyle oversees the massive network of temperature control throughout the entire airport facilities and offices, as well as the Authority’s general aviation airports. He was instrumental in the upgrade of the new cooling towers for the main terminal chiller plant and has been working on installing test concepts for air conditioning in TPA’s boarding bridges project. He’s also responsible for the airport’s fire systems and inspections, and any other duties that come with the airport’s HVAC territory.
“I do this because I love doing it,” Doyle said. “I’ve been doing it for so long I’m always looking for new projects and tasks to do around here.”
In fact, Doyle loves working with A/C so much he does it in his spare time, too. He keeps his GMC pickup fully stocked with parts and equipment and does residential repairs and installations in the evenings and on Saturdays. He sleeps about five or six hours a night, only taking Sundays off to relax.
Even his relaxation days are busy, though. Doyle and his wife, Suzanne, live on a large property in Lutz, which he works hard to mow and maintain. A self-professed “neat freak,” Doyle spends a lot of time organizing and cleaning, and he babies his collection of muscle cars, including his ’69 Camaro, which is always in some stage of restoration. Fast cars are Doyle’s first love and he recalls a time when he and Director of Maintenance Paul Ridgeway, his best friend growing up, would drag race on a road behind International Plaza area with an occasional visit from TPD or the airport police.
Doyle and his wife own three Persian cats, and they are excited to bring a fourth Persian kitten home soon. They also care for five feral cats outside, all of which Doyle trapped and had spayed or neutered. He has tried several times to trap the mother of the cats, to no avail.
When he’s not working or restoring or cleaning or brushing cats, Doyle does enjoy the rare Sunday when he can go out on his boat with his friends and head to the Caladesi Island or Anclote Key. There, he typically lies around in the sun and reads car magazines until it’s time to head back home and return to the workweek.
Doyle loves his job and friends at Tampa International Airport and looks forward to working on more projects and systems as the airport expands in coming years. He does make time for the occasional vacation to Waynesville, N.C., where he and his wife have fallen in love with the mountains and mild weather. They’ve been looking at real estate – something flat, so Doyle can work on his cars – and they plan to one day retire there.
“It’s nice and cool there,” Doyle said. “Nobody calls asking you to come fix their A/C.”