We have the Power … Together let us make a difference!
Willdan was founded in 1964, by Dan W Heil and William Stookey, and its first client is now known as the City of Cerritos. Back then, one of the city’s challenges was keeping the drains below the grounds surface. The water table was so high, the drains kept floating up to the surface. Willdan took up the challenge, while sitting on milk crates in a trailer, and solved it for the city. If you had the opportunity to know Dan I am sure you heard him tell this story with a lot more details.
Since then Willdan has grown to become a provider of professional, technical, and consulting services in response to the needs of its public agency clients, including utilities. To offer these services Dan believed the employees were Willdan’s greatest assets and they were key to Willdan’s success. The employees are knowledgable, experienced, practical, and driven to work with the clients to accomplish the desired results. Because Dan was focused on the employees and as a way to say “thank you”, he gave the the employees the opportunity to purchase and own shares of Willdan.
The employee stockholders developed the habit of being quiet over the years with just a few exceptions. This was due to our deep respect for Dan and how he led the company, his vision, leadership, direction, and philosophy in creating an employee focused company culture. Dan was astute at building technical teams, client relationships, marketing to public agencies, and identifying new services required by clients.
When Dan unexpectedly passed in 2006 prior to Willdan’s IPO, his death led to a change in leadership and subsequently strategic direction. Win Westfall, now the current Chairman of the Board, served as the interim CEO and President during the IPO. After Willdan accomplished the IPO, Willdan’s Board of Directors selected a permanent CEO and President.
Including myself, many of Willdan’s current stockholders are employees and ex-employees. This stockholder category owns greater than thirty percent of Willdan Group Inc. In the public arena, this percentage is significant and large enough to make a difference.
Due to the old habit of being quiet and the impression that we have no power, the employees and ex-employees who own stock have continued to be silent and have primarily followed the Willdan Board of Directors recommendations. This was done by either voting the way the Board of Directors recommended or by abstaining.
Now is the time for the stockholders of Willdan to rise, unite, and acknowledge that we have the power to make a difference. If we collaborate and act together, we can change Willdan’s direction, internal company culture, client relationships, and financial performance. These changes will occur in collaboration with other Willdan stockholders including private and institutional stockholders.
Anyone, including employees, can purchase Willdan stock in the public marketplace if they so choose. When you own Willdan stock, it gives you the right to vote for the Board of Directors and other certain issues.
- Establish a positive, professional, and competent leadership team whose focus is on building a collaborative internal environment that is supportive of all employees and capable of leading Willdan in generating revenue growth. This growth will be driven by servicing existing clients, growing the service base organically, and pursuing strategic acquisitions in CA, NY, and other key geographies.
- The leadership team will focus on reducing days sales outstanding, project and client management, overhead control and management, and with revenue growth improve profitability.
- Identify new markets leveraging existing capabilities, skill and expertise already in Willdan while utilizing strategic complimentary hires as needed.
Changes required to accomplish the goals:
All of us who have worked for Willdan since the IPO have our own personal stories to tell. I prefer to work from the stockholder’s perspective and drive positive change for Willdan. Suffice to say, the first goal will be hard to get started, difficult to achieve, but is essential to Willdan’s future success.
- The Board of Directors must identify, recruit, and hire a CEO who understands the skills and strengths of Willdan’s employees and how to positively energize and lead the employees. The CEO must also understand the needs of the existing clients, Willdan’s current capabilities, potential and evolving markets for Willdan to enter, and potential clients.
- The CEO will be given specific objectives to accomplish including the determination if current executive management and subsidiary Presidents are in alignment with the marketplace goals and positive internal environment. The CEO’s progress toward the objectives must be reviewed quarterly by the Board of Directors. The internal environment must be verified via an outside surveying service on a quarterly basis.
- Establish specific employee conduct requirements relating to personal relationships within the chain of command. There should be no “grandfathered” existing relationships. (See two examples under “Policy Examples”.)
How these changes will be achieved:
- Build consensus with Willdan Stockholders, get feedback and recommendations from stockholders, employees and ex-employees on the goals and how these goals will be achieved. Establish the ownership percentage committed to making the necessary changes to achieve our goals. Your response can be either anonymous or not. Please see the “Survey” and “Feedback” pages on this site
- Communicate with the other stockholders to share our concerns, get assistance, and guidance. Over time these changes will have a positive influence on stock price as we build consensus to establish a majority of voting shares.
- Meet with Willdan Group Inc.’s Board of Directors to formally communicate the necessary changes.
If the Board does not immediately act:
- Identify, recruit, and properly submit board candidates to Willdan. The requirements on how to submit director candidates are contained in Willdan’s Amended and Restated Bylaws which are available via the Willdan investors website. There is a brief summary under the “About” page of this site
- Campaign for those candidates.
- Be prepared for defensive measures and actions by the Board.
- Vote for those candidates either by proxy or attend and vote at the 2014 Stockholder meeting.
- The new board will then enact the changes outlined above