The founder of the company that won last year’s Small Business of the Year award from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce has vacated the CEO chair to focus more time on charitable pursuits.
Dan Nilsen, who founded Bishop-McCann in 1997, tapped Rob Adams, the company’s president since November, to lead the Kansas City-based meeting, events and incentive travel firm.
Nilsen, who also founded the Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said the transition reflects a succession plan he began thinking about five years ago, “knowing there would be a time I’d want and need to step away and let someone else take the reins of the company.”
With Adams, Nilsen said, he found someone with the ability to continue building the company as well as someone with “the big heart” he sought to lead Bishop-McCann according to principles Nilsen absorbed from the late Ewing Kauffman.
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Nilsen said he intends to remain involved with the company but will spend more time with the Just Right Project, a charitable initiative that is a nonprofit organization connected to Bishop-McCann. The nonprofit’s name reflects his intent to pay attention to community needs that are “just right” at a given time.
Broadly, Nilsen said he expects charitable efforts — which will include Bishop-McCann associates, his family and others — to address needs related to community health, youths and the arts. No specific project has been selected yet.
The company leadership transition comes at a time when the industry has rebounded from the recession and become more competitive. Adams said all parts of the events and incentives business are growing as some employers once again are focusing on employee recognition programs.
“Events are back,” Nilsen said, identifying “live events” as Bishop-McCann’s top specialty. But the company’s pool of social media and information technology specialists also is producing more business for corporate clients who want to raise awareness of new products, store openings and the like.
In addition to Kansas City, Bishop-McCann has offices in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago and Philadelphia. Adams said the company had no trouble recruiting the talent it needed.