Kukec People: Founder sees good fit by merging with Native American group
John Wills, a founding partner and president of WBK Engineering in Aurora and St. Charles, has worked on several local projects. They include the Busse Woods reservoir dam project, Mid-County Trail pedestrian bridge in St. Charles and Indiana Trail Road in Aurora.
While the firm has grown to 40 workers since it started in 1998, Wills recently began thinking about the firm's future. The founders are beginning to "age out," he said, and he is now 59 1/2, an age eligible to start withdrawing from an IRA. They need to look for future leadership for the firm, he said.
That journey started about a 1 1/2 years ago and they explored some options. They decided on an investment group that took a majority stake in WBK.
WBK Engineering merged recently with Mno-Bmadsen, a Native American investment group for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Dowagiac, Michigan.
"It is a good fit," said Wills, who does not have Native American heritage. "The values of the tribe match the values of our company."
The projects that WBK was involved in over the years, such as improving or helping the environment, are also at the heart of the tribe. This includes stormwater management, wetland and environment resources, stream restoration, and other areas.
They plan to seek projects in new markets and also bid on certain federal contracts because WBK became certified in July as a disadvantaged Native American firm, he said.
"We're looking to bigger and more interesting work," Wills said.
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A leader among CPAs
Joshua Lance of Westmont was selected as one of 38 nationwide participants in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants 2017 Leadership Academy. Lance was chosen based on his leadership skills and professional experience for the four-day Leadership Academy program in October in Durham, North Carolina. He is the founder and managing director of Lance CPA Group in Chicago and a member of the Illinois CPA Society.
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