McKim & Creed’s Building, Energy, and Infrastructure division is taking off in North Carolina and is set to expand in Florida and Texas.
By Liisa Andreassen
In 1978 McKim & Creed, Inc. (Best Firm #47 Multidiscipline and Best Firm #39 Civil for 2016), started out as a two-person structural engineering firm. Today, the firm based in Wilmington, North Carolina employs 380 professionals in 19 offices throughout the south and provides civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering services. John Lucey came on board in 2014 as its president and CEO.
“I was contacted by a recruiting company to consider this position,” he says. “After several meetings and interviews, the founders, Mike Creed and Herb McKim, felt that I was a good fit. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve as president of a similar firm in Pittsburgh and have also served in management and leadership positions in the engineering business for the last 20 years.”
A conversation with Lucey.
The Zweig Letter: How have you seen McKim & Creed evolve since you have been there?
John Lucey: We have developed a 2020 strategic plan that charts our growth during that period. We are now completing the second year of that plan and are slightly ahead of the goals that were established. That creates a certain amount of pride among our employee owners. We’ve also recruited many talented individuals to complement the great core staff that have been long-term employee owners of McKim & Creed.
TZL: What are your key leadership strengths?
JL: A strong work ethic coupled with my background as an engineer and engineering leader. I also have a genuine interest in and concern for our employees.
TZL: How would you describe your leadership style?
JL: I feel that my job is to serve all of our employees by providing them the direction and the tools that they need to accomplish their jobs every day. As a result, I’d characterize my leadership style as being a bit of a cheerleader by encouraging and assisting them in making key decisions – quickly and efficiently.
TZL: To date, what has been your greatest challenge at McKim & Creed? How did you handle it?
JL: Since its inception, the company had been run by the two founders. My greatest challenge was to quickly learn the company culture and to gain the trust and respect of all of those employees who had worked with the founders to create a wonderful company.
TZL: What is your vision for the future of McKim & Creed?
JL: My vision is for us to be a sustainable, employee-owned firm where employees enjoy coming to work every day to contribute to the steady increase in our shareholder value.
TZL: Tell me about a recent project that you are especially proud of and why.
JL: Our firm has completed work on almost 100 solar projects. Many of these are collaborative efforts between our surveyors, land development engineers, and electrical engineers. This is the type of collaboration that will foster future company growth and success.
TZL: How have you helped your firm to outperform some competitors? What do you feel sets you apart?
JL: Our firm has a great culture of client satisfaction and doing what we need to do to maintain a long-term relationship with those clients. I believe that our employee ownership helps to create that culture.
TZL: Is there any news you care to share about McKim & Creed projects or anything else?
JL: Our Building, Energy, and Infrastructure group is
rapidly developing into one of the leading groups in North Carolina. It provides mechanical and electrical engineering for universities, health care, and industrial clients. We expect to grow that business into our Florida and Texas markets in the next few years.
TZL: Are you married? Do you have children?
JL: I’ve been married for 36 years. We have three children. One daughter is a TV newsperson in Connecticut. The other daughter is a dietician in Salt Lake City. My son is a snowboard video maker in Seattle.
TZL: What’s one thing most people at the firm don’t know about you?
JL: I’m an open book – they know everything about me.
TZL: Do you have a favorite vacation spot or dream destination?
JL: To date, my favorite vacation has been skiing in Salt Lake City. One day I’d like to visit Australia and New Zealand.
TZL: What’s the last book you read?
JL: Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success by Lou Holtz.
TZL: What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?
TZL: What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever gotten?
JL: Your employees will accomplish amazing things if you empower them, give them respect, and encourage them to have a balance of entrepreneurialism and discipline.
TZL: Who is a leader you really admire?
JL: Wayne Alderson. He had a successful business career and wrote a book, Theory R Management. The book’s premise is that every person hungers to be treated with value.
TZL: When you’re not working, what types of activities do you enjoy?
JL: I love to exercise outdoors – biking, running, walking, golfing, skiing, and kayaking.
TZL: What’s your favorite lunch?