| If there had been a better job in the business,
he might have given it some serious thought. But enroute to the top spot
at Black & Veatch, Len Rodman never even considered it. So, you could deduce
that Rodman, who was named CEO of one of the world's premier engineering
and construction companies last August, now thinks he has the best job he
could possibly imagine right in the firm where he started 28 years ago.
"We have initiated processes to improve our performance, and we will continue to review these processes and look for changes for improvement," says Rodman. He added that one change has been the introduction of the Proposal Review Board within the company's Power Generation business and ranking prospective projects, and assessing the major risks involved before making the decision to pursue the project. "We have seen the benefits of this process and are implementing it in other parts of our company."
Rodman says that the company's Power Generation business in 1999 was the strongest it has been in five years. In 1999, we were awarded a major EPC project for a 330 MW combined cycle plant at Takoradi in Ghana, West Africa; this summer, we were selected as Owner's Engineer for a 350 MW combined cycle project in Bang Bo, Samut Prakarn Province, Thailand. Also in Thailand, Black & Veatch continues EPC work on Tri Energy's 700 MW power plant project, a state-of-the-art plant which was featured in a recent Texaco ad that ran in Time magazine. And recently, we were awarded the feasibility study for ESKOM's fluidized bed combustion project at Komati Station near Johannesburg. We are continuing our work (providing nuclear island design and equipment supply) with the Lungmen Nuclear Project, the largest of four nuclear power plants in Taiwan.
Project work in the States also continues to increase. In September, Black & Veatch was awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction contract for Aquila Energy's Aries 600 MW combined cycle power plant to be built near Pleasant Hill, MO. A few of the other new awards include:
* Tenaska Gateway 830 MW Generation Station, Rusk County, TX; Tenaska Gateway Partners Ltd.; engineering, procurement, and construction
* Gordon Evans simple cycle combustion turbine project, Colwich, KS; Western Resources, Inc.; engineering, procurement, and construction for Phase 1
* State Line 500 MW combined cycle generating unit, Joplin, Missouri; Empire District Electric Company and Western Resources, Inc.; engineering and construction management
* Combination fuel boiler project, Amherst, VA; Greif Brothers Corporation; design engineering
* Combined cycle 500 MW plant, Anderson County, SC; Santee Cooper; balance-of-plant engineering design.
Len Rodman started his career with Black & Veatch in 1971, the same year he graduated from Iowa State with a degree in civil engineering. A short time later he returned to school, at the University of Missouri, for post-graduate work in environmental engineering. However, while he always liked environmental work he maintains that his primary interests were in the area of project and people management.
The concept of managing people might be a key to understanding the direction Rodman hopes to take the company during his watch as CEO. Since he moved into the chief's office, much of Rodman's time has been consumed with the design and implementation of an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) that was introduced to all Black & Veatch managers and workers this past autumn. "It was a monumental effort. It may have been one of the best projects Black & Veatch did last year," says Rodman, "It took a tremendous amount of time to put the package together, particularly for our financial group and legal staff, as well as the communications people."
The resounding acceptance and success of the ESOP created a substantial equity position that will, Rodman points out, allow Black & Veatch to capitalize on the opportunities that he sees on the horizon. But now it is back to basics, so to speak. And for Black & Veatch that means improving process activities across the board. "We have grown rapidly and as we have, we've had to stress the work flow processes within the organization," Rodman says, implying that Black & Veatch needs to keep upgrading its processes and work flow in order to keep up with the work.