ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Tom Talks: Year in Review

01.05.22 by Tom Hendrick
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Happy New Year everyone!

As we started into 2021 a year ago, one of the biggest things we were looking forward to was putting the pandemic behind us. Sadly, that did not happen. Despite dealing with the pandemic and vaccinations and everything associated with COVID, Wallace Design Collective was able to celebrate our best year ever. Here are some of our accomplishments.

We started the year by welcoming Jordan Rodich to our ownership group. It’s always refreshing to welcome a new owner who is excited about contributing to the firm and brings fresh ideas to the table. In January, as we do each year now, each office selected a new charity to support for the year. The Atlanta office chose the Atlanta Food Bank, Denver chose Colorado Special Olympics, Kansas City chose Harvesters - The Community Food Network, Oklahoma City chose RESTOREOKC, and Tulsa chose The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. We also added nine new employees in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, as COVID and its associated stresses continued into a second year, we were fortunate that our growth continued. Eight new employees and six summer interns were hired as a result. In April, we promoted Michael Lancey, Evan Myers and Andrew Cook to Associate positions. One of our 2021 strategic planning initiatives was to build staff in our Atlanta office. After looking for people there for several months, we shifted gears and began researching for a small structural firm to acquire. June 1st marked the 40th anniversary of Wallace and we celebrated by rebranding and changing our name to Wallace Design Collective. The name was selected to honor our history while reflecting our growth as a multidisciplinary firm offering professional services beyond engineering. June 1st was also the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre so Wallace made a donation to the Tulsa Race Massacre Commission to kick off our 40-for-40 campaign (40 acts of service for our 40th anniversary).

COVID was still a topic of conversation into the third quarter, mostly about getting vaccinated or what you needed to do if you did get it or were exposed to somebody who had it. We were fortunate to hire 13 new employees and one summer intern in the quarter and would have hired more if they were available. The war on talent and the search for people – as well as retaining those employees that we have – became a huge focus for the company. We also formed a committee that joined me in searching for a structural firm that we could potentially acquire.  

The fourth quarter brought our annual strategic planning efforts, which included information gathering and internal strategic planning meetings. This information was used during a two-day meeting with Kelly Riggs, our long-time facilitator, and our strategic planning team. Much of the discussion and resulting strategic planning initiatives revolved around the search for and retention of talent, the operational structure of the firm, the search for new opportunities, and discussions on how to address the possible COVID vaccine mandates. Nine new employees were added in the fourth quarter resulting in 39 new hires for the year. Wallace was named the 7th best firm to work for in the small firm category at the Best Places to Work awards banquet in Oklahoma City in November. We were also featured in an article by Oklahoma Magazine as a company with a great workplace environment. At the end of November, long-time shareholders Tom Gangel and Ken Basden decided to step down and take early retirement. They will both be missed. We promoted five employees to the Associate position: Aaron Barnhart, Kyle Haskett, Chris Savage, Arlin Vancuren and Billy Wiginton. We also announced four of the current Associates – Danny Baldwin, Alec Bass, Dan Popp and Alan Taylor – as new Principals and Shareholders beginning January 1, 2022.

In closing, I would have to say it was one incredible year. Our revenue growth outperformed our projections and we added more staff than I ever would have expected. When I look back on any year, but particularly this year, the word that always comes to mind is gratitude. I am so very grateful for all the wonderful things that happened and grateful to all of our staff who made it happen. If I had to pick one word to describe our staff in 2021 I would have to pick “resilient.” It was a crazy year and they responded admirably!  

As I look ahead to 2022, I am very optimistic that it will be another great year and I look forward to seeing where the year leads us.








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