Our Leadership Shapes Us
Michael J. Fournier has been Chief Executive Officer and a Director of the Company since December 2015, President of the Company since October 2014 and Chief Operating Officer of the Company since July 2014.
Mr. Fournier joined Willbros in August 2011 as Chief Operating Officer of Canada operations and served as President of Canada operations from September 2012 to July 2014. Prior to joining Willbros, he filled successive roles starting as an Operations Manager and finishing as President of Aecon Lockerbie Construction Group, Inc., a construction and infrastructure development company, and its predecessor entities from 2005 to 2011. Mr. Fournier has more than 30 years of experience in the engineering and construction service industries. Mr Fournier started his career in the Offshore Gulf Coast pipeline construction and platform fabrication sector, relocating to Canada in the early 90’s. Much of his career since then has been spent in the Canadian Oil, Gas and Petrochemical sector where he has held a succession of project management and executive management roles with heavy industrial construction firms culminating in business unit president roles. He has served on the Board of Directors for Construction Labour Relations – Alberta and on the Management Board of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (“NSERC”) Chair in Construction Management for the University of Alberta. He currently is a Director on the Board of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada. Mr. Fournier graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and is registered with the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta.
Van A. Welch has been Executive Vice President of the Company since May 2011 and Chief Financial Officer of the Company since August 2006.
Mr. Welch served as Senior Vice President of the Company from August 2006 to May 2011 and as Treasurer of the Company from August 2006 to September 2007 and from July 2010 to May 2012. Mr. Welch has over 30 years’ experience in project controls, administrative and finance positions with KBR, Inc. (formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root), a global engineering, construction and services company, and its subsidiaries, serving in his last position as Vice President – Finance and Investor Relations and as a member of KBR’s executive leadership team. From 1998 to 2006, Mr. Welch held various other positions with KBR including Vice President, Accounting and Finance of the Engineering and Construction Division, Vice President, Accounting and Finance of Onshore Operations and Senior Vice President of Shared Services. Mr. Welch is a Certified Public Accountant.
Linnie A. Freeman was named Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer effective April 1, 2016.
Ms. Freeman served as Vice President, Legal from June 2015 and was Associate General Counsel of the Company from April 2008 to June 2015. Before joining Willbros, she represented the Company in a variety of matters beginning in 2001 from her own law firm. Ms. Freeman has practiced law for more than 25 years and her legal experience includes work with mergers and acquisitions, engineering and construction contracts, construction claims, litigation management, and compliance matters. She is a member of the state bar associations of Texas and California (Inactive), is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University, and holds her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Texas.
Johnny M. Priest joined Willbros in 2012 as Chief Operating Officer of the Utility T&D segment before being elected Senior Vice President, Utility T&D and President of the Utility T&D segment later that year.
Mr. Priest was elected Executive Vice President, Utility Transmission & Distribution of the Company in October 2014. Prior to joining Willbros, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Argos Utilities, a provider of transmission and distribution services to utility customers, from April 2009 to March 2012. Mr. Priest began his career as a line construction technician with Duke Power in 1967 and has since managed and presided over a number of companies including: Argos Utilities, MasTec Energy Group and Shaw Energy Delivery Services (formerly owned by Duke Energy). He is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Andrew M. Jack has been Senior Vice President, Willbros Canada of the Company since January 2016 and President of the Canada segment since July 2014.
Mr. Jack joined Willbros in October 2012 as General Manager of the Construction and Maintenance business unit, before being elected as Vice President, Canada in December 2013. Mr. Jack has extensive general management and business development experience with almost 25 years in the Oil and Gas pipeline industry and has worked internationally with respected multi-national companies. Mr. Jack is a Chartered Manager and member of the UK Pipeline Industries Guild. His early career began in finance with Deloitte (at that time, Deloitte Haskins & Sells) followed by Financial Controller positions in the Oil and Gas pipeline industry before joining the Pipeline Intervention and Integrity group at TD Williamson, Inc., a global solutions provider for the owners and operators of pressurized piping systems, as Regional Controller for the Europe, Africa, and Middle East Region. Subsequently, he held senior regional positions in Strategy, Business Development and Operations Management with TD Williamson, Inc. followed by general management roles for Africa and the Pipeline Integrity Division.
Harry W. New has been Senior Vice President, Oil & Gas of the Company since January 2016 and President of the Oil & Gas segment since January 2015.
Mr. New previously spent six years with Willbros from 2005 to 2011, rising to President of Willbros U.S. Construction. Prior to rejoining Willbros, from September 2011 to January 2015, he served as Senior Vice President of NorthStar Energy Services (a Quanta Services Company), a provider of infrastructure solutions for the oil and gas, pipeline, chemical, petrochemical, power, and terminal industries. Mr. New has more than 29 years of experience in the pipeline construction industry including management positions at Amec-Paragon Engineering and Bechtel Corporation. Mr. New is a member of the American Pipeline Contractors Association, INGAA and The Pipeliners Association of Houston. Mr. New graduated from Texas A&I with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Gas Engineering.
Board of Directors
S. Miller Williams was elected to the Board of Directors in May 2004 and was appointed non-executive Chairman of the Board effective December 1, 2015.
Mr. Williams served as Lead Independent Director of the Board from August 2014 to December 2015. From April 2011 to August 2013, he was Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of LinkBermuda Ltd, a telecommunications services company based in Bermuda. He has been Managing Director of Willvest, an investment and corporate development advisory firm, since 2004. He was Executive Vice President of Strategic Development of Vartec Telecom, Inc., an international consumer telecommunications services company, from August 2002 until May 2004, and was appointed Chief Financial Officer of Vartec in November 2003. From 2000 to August 2003, Mr. Williams was Executive Chairman of the Board of PowerTel, Inc., a public company that provided telecommunications services in Australia. From 1991 to 2002, he served in various executive positions with Williams Communications Group, a subsidiary of The Williams Companies that provided global network and broadband media services, where his last position was Senior Vice President – Corporate Development, General Manager – International and Chairman of WCG Ventures, the company’s venture
Mr. Williams’ prior service in corporate development positions and as executive chairman of a public company and a member of the boards of directors of businesses in the telecommunications industry enables him to contribute significantly to our Board of Directors with respect to strategic planning, acquisitions and various oversight matters, including enterprise risk management. His experience in accounting and finance positions, including prior service as a chief financial officer of a company with approximately $1.0 billion in revenues, provides the necessary financial reporting and accounting expertise to augment his role as non-executive Chairman of the Board.
Michael J. Fournier was elected President and Chief Executive Officer and appointed to serve on the Board of Directors in December 2015.
Mr. Fournier served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Willbros effective October 22, 2014 and July 1, 2014 respectively, after serving as President of Willbros Canada since September 2012. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Team. He joined Willbros as Chief Operating Officer in August 2011. He is a 29-year veteran of Western Canada’s Oil & Gas service industry. As President, he has provided leadership and strategic direction to the company’s operations in Canada helping the organization transition into a number of new businesses while growing the traditional pipeline oriented business units. Prior to joining Willbros, Mr. Fournier held various executive and senior management positions with a number of industrial contractors operating in the Canadian Oil Sands. Taking strong knowledge of work process and an understanding of the skill sets and organization structure required to provide positive performance, he has gained a reputation for helping turnaround operational performance and building strong teams. Mr. Fournier graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and is registered with the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta. He also served on the Board of Directors for Construction Labour Relations Alberta and Management Board for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Chair in Construction Management for University of Alberta. Mr. Fournier serves on the Executive and Finance committees of the Board of Directors.
Daniel E. Lonergan has served on the Board of Directors since July 2010, subsequent to the closing of the acquisition of InfrastruX Group, Inc.
Mr. Lonergan is the CEO and a founding member of Tenaska Capital Management and has more than 25 years of experience in the energy and power industries in finance, mergers, acquisitions, strategic planning, business development, financial reporting and administration. Tenaska manages power and energy-focused private equity funds, which have approximately $4 billion in assets under management.
Mr. Lonergan joined Tenaska in 1997 as a Vice President in Tenaska’s finance division; he mostly recently served as a Senior Managing Director of Tenaska Capital Management. Prior to joining Tenaska, Mr. Lonergan held a variety of executive positions in the energy sector including; Vice President of Finance for the non-regulated businesses of MidAmerican Energy Company where he was responsible for all finance, accounting, planning and administrative functions; and a variety of other financial management positions with Iowa-Illinois Gas and Electric. Mr. Lonergan graduated from the University of Iowa with B.A in Political Science and an M.B.A.
Mr. Lonergan’s extensive knowledge of the energy and power industry provides considerable contributions to our Board of Directors with respect to our Utility Transmission and Distribution segment. His financial advisory and business development experience enable him to make significant contributions with respect to strategic and operational planning.
Michael C. Lebens was elected to the Board of Directors in May 2011. Mr. Lebens is a member of the Board of Stakeholders of Tenaska Energy, Inc., an independent energy company.
,Mr. Lebens retired as President and Chief Executive Office of Tenaska’s Engineering and Operations Group on August 1, 2012. During his tenure with Tenaska, Mr. Lebens had oversight responsibility for engineering, construction, operations and asset management for a portfolio of approximately 10,800 megawatts of power generating assets. He joined Tenaska in 1987 as project manager for a power plant being constructed in Texas. Between 1990 and 2012, Mr. Lebens directed project management and operations for all of Tenaska’s power generating projects. Mr. Lebens has more than 36 years of management experience in the energy industry, including the development, design and construction of major power generation facilities and other energy related projects. Before joining Tenaska, Mr. Lebens held positions with InterNorth, Inc., Gibbs and Hill, and Burns and McDonnell. Mr. Lebens earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nebraska.
Mr. Lebens’ extensive knowledge of the energy and power industries provides considerable insight to our Board of Directors with respect to our Utility Transmission and Distribution segment. His strong engineering background allows him to contribute significantly to our Board of Directors on matters related to our engineering operations.
Phil D. Wedemeyer was elected to the Board of Directors in April 2015. In July 2011, Mr. Wedemeyer retired as a partner from Grant Thornton LLP, an international accounting firm, where he had served since August 2007.
From May 2003 to July 2007, Mr. Wedemeyer served in various capacities with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”), including service as the Director, Office of Research and Analysis, from August 2005 to July 2007 and as a Deputy Director, Division of Registration and Inspection, from March 2004 to August 2005. Prior to his service with the PCAOB, Mr. Wedemeyer spent more than 31 years at Arthur Andersen SC, an international accounting firm, including 22 years as a partner. Mr. Wedemeyer currently serves as a director of publicly-traded Atwood Oceanics, Inc., a global offshore drilling contractor, and Trinity Steel Fabricators, a privately-held fabricator of steel structures and vessels. He is a member of the Deloitte Audit Quality Advisory Council and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant. He previously served as a director of Powell Industries, Inc., Horizon Offshore, Inc. and HMS Income Fund, Inc.
Mr. Wedemeyer’s more than 30 years of public accounting firm experience and service with the PCAOB and the Auditing Standards Board of the AICPA provide the Board with extensive accounting and financial expertise. His in-depth knowledge of accounting rules and regulations, including expertise in SEC filings and international audit standards, as well as service on other publicly-traded company boards, including on audit and compliance committees, make him a valuable contributor of financial, accounting and risk management expertise to the Board. Mr. Wedemeyer qualifies as an audit committee financial expert as defined by the SEC, and was elected to serve as the Chairman of the Board’s Audit Committee in December 2015.
Robert L. Sluder was elected to the Board of Directors in May 2007. Mr. Sluder was President of Kern River Gas Transmission Company.
Mr. Sluder retired oversaw this unit of MidAmerican Energy/Berkshire Hathaway, from February 2002 to December 2005, when he retired. Kern River is the owner and operator of a 1,700-mile interstate natural gas pipeline between southwestern Wyoming and southern California. In addition, he served as President of Alaska Gas Transmission Company, formed in 2003 to facilitate the delivery of North Slope reserves to Canadian and U.S. markets. He was Senior Vice President and General Manager of The Williams Companies in Salt Lake City from December 2001 to February 2002 and Vice President of Williams Operations from January 1996 to December 2001. Mr. Sluder served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Kern River from 1995 to 1996 and as Director, Operations for Kern River from 1991 to 1995. Prior to that time, he held a variety of engineering and construction supervisory positions with various companies.
Mr. Sluder brings to our Board of Directors an extensive engineering background and a wealth of operational and managerial experience with respect to one of our core businesses, the construction and maintenance of large diameter pipelines. His decades of senior management level experience in the oil and gas industry provides in-depth business and strategic knowledge and insight that strengthens our Board of Directors’ collective qualifications, skills and experience.
W. Gary Gates was elected to the Board of Directors in February 2017. Mr. Gates, 66, retired in June 2015 as president and CEO of the Omaha Public Power District (“OPPD”), a public utility engaged in the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power.
Mr. Gates has over 40 years of experience in the power industry and held several positions at OPPD, including Executive Assistant to the President, Division Manager-Nuclear Operations, and Vice President with responsibility for nuclear organization. During his career, Mr. Gates has had extensive experience with energy construction projects. He has served on numerous utility trade associations and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Mutual of Omaha as its Lead Outside Director. Mr. Gates received a master’s degree in business administration from Creighton University, Omaha, NE in 1991, a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, in 1985, and a bachelor’s degree in engineering science from Iowa State University, Ames, IA, in 1972.
Our board and leadership team use their best efforts to adopt and implement best practices of corporate governance appropriate for Willbros under the circumstances. We believe strongly that effective corporate governance practices underpin our efforts to focus our entire organization on generating long-term stockholder value through conscientious and ethical actions.
Willbros’ directors have a wide range of business and industry experience, which provides insight on significant matters and an understanding of the challenges we face. Our company’s commitment to sound, independent oversight is demonstrated by the make-up of our board, which has been comprised of a majority of independent directors since our company’s initial public offering in 1996. All of the members of our Audit, Compensation, and Nominating/Corporate Governance Committees are independent.
We believe the functions performed by these board committees are central to effective corporate governance. We are committed and dedicated to employing sound, ethical business practices, complying with the law in all areas where we work, and demanding the highest standards of integrity from our personnel. We believe effective corporate governance requires the checks and balances provided by a proactive Board of Directors and management actively engaged with others in the organization.
Our board provides a process by which stockholders can communicate with the board or any of the directors. Stockholders can send written communications to the Board of Directors or to any of the directors at the following address: Corporate Secretary, Willbros Group, Inc., 4400 Post Oak Parkway, Suite 1000, Houston, Texas 77027.
All communications will be compiled by Willbros’ Corporate Secretary and submitted to the board or the individual director on a periodic basis.