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EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards

Kleinfelder

William Siegel

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William Siegel has spent 28 years at Kleinfelder, working his way up to CEO of this full-service, employee-owned, global engineering, architecture and science consulting firm, which is dedicated to solving the world’s most difficult infrastructure and natural resources challenges. In 2009, when the company’s key markets -- energy, facilities, government transportation and water -- rapidly changed due to the economy, Siegel led an aggressive effort to remake Kleinfelder for the new market reality. Departing from 50 years of tradition, the firm changed from being structured around individual regions and service lines to having today’s full-service, global, client-based structure.

William Siegel

In order to thrive, Siegel negotiated a new credit agreement, identified a number of key market priorities, and through a series of acquisitions and organic growth diversified geographically and in service lines. He added and/or expanded Kleinfelder’s work in asset management; energy/power transmission and distribution, process and plant engineering; water and wastewater plant design; and bridge and structural engineering. When clients started transferring risk from themselves to the firm, Sigel created a new risk management function and hired an industry veteran who had previously helped Kleinfelder avoid being impacted by this market development.

To maintain a level of trust with his employees, Siegel has monthly company updates and he helps improve their skills with various initiatives. Transparency was carried over to the board, where Siegel split up its composition from a company-only board to a board more reflective of a public corporation.

Siegel’s active involvement in professional organizations includes being recently voted chairman of the Design Professionals Coalition by his peers. At Kleinfelder, he has led the effort to establish a formal program of corporate social responsibility, identifying Ronald McDonald House Charities, Engineers Without Borders and the ACE mentor program for the company’s main global volunteer efforts.

Though Kleinfelder has become a high-value takeover for private equity groups, Siegel continues to see more value in maintaining the company from outside investors. By retaining top talent through various initiatives, developing new avenues of innovation via his internal corporate growth incubator, increasing client retention and lowering the potential legal risks faced by the company, Siegel has engineered Kleinfelder for a bright future.

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