And So the Story Ends

Today, my 31-year, 6-month, and 5-day story with Larson Design Group (LDG) ends as I wrap up four years as an LDG external board director, after retiring as CEO in April 2020.  It’s been wonderful to participate in the growth and evolution of this employee-owned company.  It has made me think – what good story ends without author acknowledgments?  So, here are mine…

My heartfelt thanks and gratitude go out to –

  • God for providing the earthly life of Jesus Christ as the True example of servant leadership and for the grace and blessings that He has bestowed upon my career and the work of LDG.
  • LDG clients for trusting our employee owners to creatively shape your world.  You are why LDG exists.
  • Employees of LDG, past and present, for your passion, hard work, and commitment to live the LDG core values and advance the company’s vision.  Please know that each of you are remembered fondly and often in my reflections on LDG.
  • Ken Larson, Fred LaVancher and Leonard Tyson, for believing in my potential, for your patience as I learned the engineering consulting business, and for your valuable coaching that helped me grow as a leader.
  • Paul Lee for reaching out to hire me and for being a strong driving force behind LDG’s early growth and success.
  • Brenda Nichols for being a faithful leader and friend, offering honesty in even the most difficult situations, and for always putting LDG interests ahead of your own.
  • Dave DeBlander for propping me up during the two most significant points of self-doubt in my leadership career.
  • Steve Wilver, for being the first LDG co-worker to visit my home and young family when we moved back to town, and for your career-long achievement of great engineering solutions for clients and high performance for LDG.
  • Early internal board directors of LDG, including Kurt Hetrick, Phil Hoffman, Dave Walters, and Rob Gehr, for your diligence in company governance, for managing the big risks associated with a small but rapidly growing company, and for your faithful stewardship of the company culture.
  • LDG external directors, especially Skip Homan for challenging me to grow as a leader so that LDG could successfully become an emerging national firm, Marshall Welch for your expert guidance in LDG’s second to third generation leadership and ownership transitions, and John DiMarco for your curiosity and passion that have successfully guided the board through the turbulence of the pandemic and growth as a national firm.
  • My Executive Assistant, Megan Conrad, for your loyalty and dedication in supporting me and for playing such a critical role so well as LDG transitioned from its second to third generation leadership team.  You are a rock star.
  • LDG’s third generation Executive Leadership Team, especially Dave Martin, Dave Schaarsmith, Terry Krezmer, Scott Kantner, and Ashley Heinnickel, for your passionate commitment to lead the company’s transformation into a national design and consulting organization while remaining true to the core values and employee ownership principles that have existed since LDG’s founding.
  • Professional advisors of LDG, including Dave Francis for teaching me the importance of time with family; Drake Nicholas, Michael O’Brien, Geordie Aitken, and Keith Floyd for your sage advice, humor, and genuine interest in the success of LDG; and to Bob Rogers for your wisdom and coaching insights that helped chart the right course for LDG, its leadership team, and for me through my final years as LDG CEO.
  • Many industry colleagues and project partners for generously sharing your time, perspectives, and resources for the betterment of LDG, our clients and me, including all my ACEC SEI-IV classmates and Chris Borton.
  • Many educators, business and community leaders that shaped my career, leadership perspectives and world view, especially Richard Mix, Ken Welsh, Frank Hartzel, John Liebig and the Civil Engineering Department at Lehigh University, Ats Welker, Jim Seksinsky, Davie Jane Gilmour, Steve Johnson, Jennifer Wilson, and Father John Manno.
  • All those who responded with understanding and forgiveness for any offense or harm caused by my actions or omissions as an imperfect leader and human being.  I continue to work each day on being a better version of myself.
  • Last but not least, to my family – Mom and Dad for instilling in me a strong faith, work ethic, and commitment to serve others; to my wife, Jennifer, my life’s dearest partner, true companion, cheerleader, defender, and confidant, by my side every step of the way, sharing in all the joys and hardships, and eagerly ready to grace each day of my next chapter in life; and to Andrew, Olivia, and Sam for the gifts of your unfolding life stories, successes, and future possibilities – these are the priceless dividends provided through the investment of my career with Larson Design Group.

My life has been blessed by all of you in countless ways.  It has been a wonderful journey.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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