June 14, 2018
C-Suite Awards 2018

Grigg raises Fuss & O'Neill's, engineering industry's profiles

HBJ Photo | Steve Laschever
HBJ Photo | Steve Laschever

Kevin Grigg

CATEGORY: CHIEF FINANCIAL/OPERATING/ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, 100 OR MORE EMPLOYEES

Chief Operating Officer, Fuss & O'Neill

Size of organization: 300-plus employees; $50 million-plus in gross revenue

Highest education: Post-graduate studies in finance and accounting, University of Washington (Seattle).

Previous job(s): Shaw Environment & Infrastructure Inc. in Chicago, Managing Director, Client Program Manager

As chief operating officer of Fuss & O'Neill, Kevin Grigg has many of the typical responsibilities that would be expected, including improving the civil and environmental engineering firm's financial stability.

However, one of Grigg's personal priorities is to increase the public's awareness of his firm and the industry. His ultimate goal is to educate citizens about his industry's relationship to the infrastructure that is vital to the roads and bridges we drive on and the buildings we dwell in.

"Companies like ours are really under the public radar unless there's some sort of a disaster," Grigg said. "As COO of the company, I really want the public to know more about what we do and get excited about what we do."

Grigg is Fuss & O'Neill's first chief operating officer in its nearly 100-year history and was hired for the position in 2012 after an extensive national executive search.

In his five-and-a-half years with the firm, Grigg's accomplishments have been significant, said Peter Grose, the firm's president and CEO.

"We were looking for someone with a track record of improving performance and who would provide attention to the operations side of the business," Grose said.

Grigg will also be taking on an even larger responsibility when Grose steps down from his CEO position later this year.

"I am retiring at the end of June and Kevin will be filling my role," Grose said. "We are not refilling his previous position at this time."

While Grigg is mindful of the company's external impact, he is also focused on consistently improving the firm's financial strength. His most recent major achievement was helping Fuss & O'Neill acquire a New Hampshire-based civil engineering firm, CLD Consulting Engineers Inc.

"Kevin collaborated to make that deal happen and he's been a key part of the integration, which increased our staff size by about 20 percent," Grose said.

During Grigg's tenure, the firm's backlog of work has increased 29 percent within the past three years. Additionally, the company's operating profit has increased by more than 50 percent in the last five years, Grose said.

Grigg has also been instrumental in shifting the focus of Fuss & O'Neill's business development efforts to a more proactive, relationship-based program.

"Our senior managers are much better business people as a result of Kevin having moved into the position," Grose said.

Although improving the bottom line is imperative, Grigg's ability to effectively oversee the firm's more than 320 employees is critical. Grigg noted that a company is only as strong as its individual members.

"Regardless of our gender or the color of our skin, there are some things we all want," Grigg said. "We need to be respected and we need to be supported. We need to be tested in a positive way and we need to be shown that we can do more than we think we can do."

Grose credited Grigg for his attention to Fuss & O'Neill employees. He has implemented a safety program and an emerging leaders program during his tenure, and instituted a series of changes including flexible work hours and telecommuting options.

"Kevin really wants to understand what our employees are thinking, from the receptionist to the senior managers," Grose said. "He's a good people person, a very good listener and very approachable."

As a direct result of Grigg's efforts, employee morale has improved, as evidenced by internal employee surveys.

Grigg also recently led a reinvigoration of Fuss & O'Neill's company-wide volunteer and charitable-giving programs. The group organizes food drives and environmental cleanup days, works with local schools and provides financial support to local charities.

On the job

Guiding business principle: Put the right people in the right places.

Best way to keep your competitive edge: Be the recipient of a highly competitive genome.

Best business decision: Hiring a business partner who would eventually become my wife.

Goal yet to be achieved: Achieve "Best Places to Work" status

Personal touch in your office: Pictures of my family; a University of Wisconsin football helmet

Personal side

Townof residence: Simsbury

Favorite way to relax: Reading, solitaire, smoking my pipe

Hobbies: I'm a bit of a gym rat, so working out or reading.

Last vacation: Florida

Favorite movie: "Witness for the Prosecution"

The car you drive: 2012 GMC Terrain

Currently reading: "Jesus as They Saw Him," by William Barclay

Favorite cause: Save the Children.

Second choice career: Biomedical research and engineering

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