KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Burns & McDonnell today announced that the firm will expand its Board of Directors from five to seven seats, effective Jan. 1, 2009. Presidents of three of the firm's largest divisions have been named to fill the two new board seats plus a seat being vacated by Board Chairman Joel Cerwick upon his retirement at year-end. The new board members will be:
- Ray Kowalik, president and general manager of Burns & McDonnell's Energy Group
- David Yeamans, president and general manager of Burns & McDonnell's Aviation & Facilities Group
- John E. Nobles, president and general manager of Burns & McDonnell's Process & Industrial Group
The current five-member board structure has been in place since the firm became an employee-owned corporation in January 1986. The expansion required an amendment to the Burns & McDonnell corporate bylaws.
President and CEO Greg Graves announced the board expansion to all employees on Tuesday, Nov. 4, noting that the primary reason was the tremendous growth of the firm over the past five years. Since 2003, Burns & McDonnell has grown from 1,550 employees nationwide to approximately 2,900 today and annual revenue has grown in the same time period from approximately $400 million to $860 million at year-end 2007.
"There are a lot of reasons for Burns & McDonnell's success, and one of the biggest reasons has been the fact that many talented people decided this is a great place to build a career," says Greg Graves, president and CEO of Burns & McDonnell. "Ray, David and John are great examples of how talent and hard work have resulted in great success for their practices and for themselves personally. We're extremely fortunate that these three men came to Burns & McDonnell and applied their leadership talents to the job of building their practices. Now, we're going to apply their leadership talent to benefit the entire firm as members of our board of directors."
Upon his retirement at the end of 2008, Joel Cerwick will cap a 40-year career with Burns & McDonnell. He has been instrumental in building the firm's Infrastructure practice, starting and expanding the network of regional offices and launching new practice groups. As an engineer, Cerwick earned nationwide professional recognition in 1981 when his groundbreaking design of a new secondary wastewater treatment process was named as the top engineering achievement for the year by the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Cerwick is a member of the core group of principals who in 1985 took out personal loans to buy the firm from then-owner Armco Steel, transferring ownership to the firm's employees through the current Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In 1988, Cerwick was named to serve on the firm's board of directors and became president of the Infrastructure Division in 2001. In 2004, Cerwick was elected by the board to serve as chairman.
Ray Kowalik joined Burns & McDonnell in 1987 as a structural engineer in the Energy Group only two years after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. After serving as structural engineer for a number of projects, he transitioned into project management in 1994 where he oversaw several of the division's largest and most high-profile projects. Kowalik was promoted to Energy Group general manager in January 2004, following Greg Graves promotion from Energy Group president to CEO of Burns & McDonnell. Kowalik was promoted to president of the Energy Group in February 2007.
As general manager of Burns & McDonnell's largest division, Kowalik has overseen a period of steady growth due to strong diversification in all sectors of the power generation industry, including recent expansion into nuclear power and continued air quality control retrofits of existing power facilities. Kowalik received his Masters of Science degree in civil engineering in 1999, also from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Since joining Burns & McDonnell in 1991 as an airport planner/civil engineer, David Yeamans has worked on several of the largest airport design projects in the country, including several upgrades and renovations to Kansas City International Airport. Yeamans relocated to Philadelphia in 1999 where for the next four years he managed one of the largest projects in the history of the firm - the $750 million terminal improvement program for the Philadelphia Airport. That record of successfully completing high profile, complex assignments resulted in his promotion to vice president and general manager of the Aviation & Facilities Group (A&F) in 2004 and then another promotion to president of the division in February 2006.
Since becoming leader of the A&F division, Yeamans has overseen a broad diversification into a full range of aviation-related facilities, including airport terminals, passenger boarding and baggage handling facilities, runways, hangars, control towers, jet engine testing facilities, fueling facilities and administration and maintenance facilities. The group also specializes in design and construction of a full range of commercial, institutional and industrial facilities, including military facilities, print and broadcast media facilities, clean rooms, laboratories, data and operational control centers. Yeamans is a 1984 graduate of Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering with a structural minor.
Since joining Burns & McDonnell in 2000, John Nobles has overseen the development and rapid growth of a practice area specializing in design engineering and construction management for oil refining, petrochemical, grain processing, food processing and pharmaceutical clients. The division has more than doubled in size in the past four years. A career-long advocate for industrial and workplace safety, Nobles has been instrumental in incorporating industry-leading safety practices that have kept Burns & McDonnell industrial projects consistently in the top 1 percent nationwide in all areas of safety performance.
Prior to joining Burns & McDonnell, he served as president and CEO of Black & Veatch Pritchard (formerly the Pritchard Corporation) in Overland Park, Kan. He began at Pritchard in 1974 as a process engineer and held progressively responsible positions, including project manager, manager of process design and vice president of domestic sales, before being promoted to president and CEO. Nobles is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and is a longtime member of the Construction Industry Institute, where he has served as board member and past chairman. He is a 1974 graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering.