Wightman & Associates, Inc. recognized as Firm of the Year

Published 6:35 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BENTON HARBOR — Wightman & Associates, Inc. has been named the 2016 Large Firm of the Year by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan (ACEC/M).

The engineering, surveying, architecture, and environmental services company based in Benton Harbor with offices in Allegan and Portage accepted the award during a ceremony in Battle Creek on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.

“Firm of the Year recognition is a tremendous honor for our company and our employees,” stated WAI President Matt Davis. “Everything we do is based on the belief that people flourish when they partner with a dynamic team of problem solvers. That philosophy fosters a culture of excellence.”

Selection for the award was based on three criteria:

• Contributions by the member firm to the success and growth of ACEC/M through service on boards, committees, participation in member development, and participation in legislative initiatives.

• Advancing the consulting design profession through published articles and industry presentations, achieving industry quality designations or governmental certification, and actions that have led to the improved management of the firm.

• Community involvement through promoting the engineering profession as a career path for young people, staff participation in community organizations and activities, and sponsorship of programs that benefit the community.

Three past and current members of the WAI leadership team have provided active support to ACEC/M through board and committee participation. WAI’s Past President Thomas Deneau served on the board of directors until his retirement at the end of 2015. Steve Carlisle, WAI chairman of the board and director of engineering is a member of the ACEC/M Transportation Committee. Alan Smaka, director of the Portage office, chairs the ACEC/M Membership Committee.

“The Wightman team has been involved with the American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan for more than a decade because we believe this organization is important to the advancement of the engineering field,” Deneau said. “Not only does it create growth and learning opportunities for current professionals, it encourages and mentors the next generation of engineers.”

The Firm of the Year award also recognizes the company’s strides in management, company growth, and excellence. In 2015, the firm named long-time employee Matt Davis as president, succeeding Tom Deneau who retired after 40 years with the company and 15 years as its leader. WAI expanded its board of directors from three members to five members and added to its services by merging Wightman Environmental into the organization after a 27-year affiliation between the two companies. Other areas of recent expansion include the addition of a human resources director and marketing director to the leadership team, and additional staff added to the GIS and field data collection teams.

Additionally, the strong culture of quality and community outreach at WAI is recognized by the award. In addition to mentoring 10 engineering and surveying interns in the past two years, staff members have coached teams of Western Michigan University engineering program seniors during their capstone design projects for the last five years.

Several Wightman professionals are founding members of the Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum, and others are active members on the Michigan’s Great Southwest Strategic Leadership Council. The company has received multiple awards for excellence including the 2015 regional and state Quality of Life Awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers for the Watervliet Water System Improvement Project.

According to Davis, what separates Wightman is their commitment to their clients, their staff, and the communities they serve. The City of Dowagiac is one of those clients and communities.

“Wightman & Associates has transcended beyond a typical vendor,” said Dowagiac Mayor Don Lyons. “They are not just a member of our team, they’re our friends.”

WAI supports a variety of outreach activities including purchasing livestock at county youth fairs, supporting local food drives, participating in MDOT’s Adopt-a-Highway program, and speaking at career days in area schools among many other acts of support.

“We care about what makes a community vibrant and how we can contribute,” Davis said. “It’s about being engaged through the work we do to support schools and great places for people. It’s about getting our people involved.”

Wightman & Associates employs 85 people in three offices. The firm celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.