J.E. Dunn gets first non-Dunn CEO

12/12/2013 9:08 AM

12/12/2013 9:08 AM

J.E. Dunn Construction Co. has chosen Gordon Lansford III as its new chief executive officer and president, making him the first non-family member to run the company founded by John Ernst Dunn in 1924.

Lansford, 43, is the firm’s current chief financial officer and has been with the Kansas City-based construction giant for 17 years. He will take over for Terry Dunn, 64, as chief executive Jan. 1.

Terry Dunn will remain chief executive of the firm’s umbrella entity, J.E. Dunn Construction Group.

The firm is the 12th largest general contractor in the U.S., according to the Engineering News-Record trade publication, and has 20 offices around the country.

“This is a milestone event in the evolution of J.E. Dunn,” Terry Dunn said Wednesday.

“We have long known that the next company CEO might not be a member of the Dunn family, so we have worked diligently to develop an executive leadership transition plan that will ensure excellent company leadership for years to come.”

The retirement of Bill Dunn Jr., currently executive vice president, at the end of this year also was announced. He has worked at Dunn for 39 years in roles such as business development, purchasing and logistics.

Steve Dunn will remain as chairman of the J.E. Dunn board, and William H. Dunn Sr. will remain chairman emeritus of the firm.

J.E. Dunn Construction employs 2,500 people throughout the country. There are 380 people at its headquarters in Kansas City. The company expects to have revenue of $2.25 billion this year and is projecting 10 percent growth next year, up to $2.6 billion.

Terry Dunn described the leadership transfer to Lansford as a smooth passing of the baton and a chance to promote younger and energetic leaders.

It’s also a continuation of a change in corporate culture that began four years ago when it became partly employee-owned. About 10 percent of the firm’s stock is now owned by employees, and the target is 20 percent.

“This non-family appointment fits nicely with a company that will have shared ownership,” Dunn said.

Lansford, who has been CFO at J.E. Dunn for 15 years and helped usher in employee ownership, plans to continue the strategy mapped out by the board. J.E. Dunn is listed among the top 10 U.S. firms by Engineering News-Record for education, health care and government construction.

“You’ll see more of what you’ve seen in the past, a lot of consistency,” he said.

Terry Dunn said relinquishing day-to-day leadership of the company to Lansford will allow him more time for his civic activities. He serves on the Greater Kansas City Civic Council and is scheduled to become chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce late next year.

“We went through five years of recession, and we’re coming out now,” he said. “It’s a great time for him to take the reins.”

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