RUSH celebrates William Chivers’ 25th Anniversary
January 13, 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of President & CEO, William Chivers. To celebrate the occasion, friends and family gathered at a special event in the Apollo/Saturn V Center at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex, which is a venue that holds a special meaning in William’s professional career. During the event, William shared some of the triumphs and challenges that brought him here today, along with some key lessons in leadership that have helped fuel his personal success, but also the success realized by the RUSH Family of Companies to date.
If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting William’s wife of more than 40 years, Pat Chivers, she might have asked you, “What’s your story”? She believes every person has a story. While we congratulate William’s 25th anniversary with the company, we would like to share the story that led him here.
When new hires come on board with RUSH today, some have assumed that William has always sat in the cushy corner office with a window and a view. That assumption could not be further than the truth. It all started in the summer of 1977 in a ditch in Palm Bay, Florida. With a pair of rubber boots on his feet, a hard hat on his head, and a shovel in his hand, William Chivers decided that summer not to return to school because he was drawn to follow in the footsteps of his father and work in the trade of construction. He never went back to college for a degree and didn’t have any formal training in leading a company. He likes to say that he’s “just a dumb redneck with a Masters Degree in hard knocks and a PhD in hard work”.
Anyone who works in construction knows it’s one of the toughest professions. When asked how he has survived all these years in this business, William thinks there are two answers to that question. First, even on the toughest of days, he just got out of bed, got dressed, went to work, and did the best that he knew how to do. He says he is never the smartest person in the room, even when he is alone. But, he always tries to at least be the hardest working person in the room. His second key to survival is what he likes to call the “Three F’s”: Faith, Family, and Friends.
Faith: Knowing that God has a plan for his life.
Family: Knowing that they will stand with him no matter what.
And, Friends: Which was evident by the gathering at KSC to celebrate his anniversary.
Why did RUSH leadership choose to honor William at the Apollo/Saturn V Center? That’s an important part of his story. In 1995, William worked for another construction company, serving as the Chief Estimator on the bid for this first-of-its-kind project at KSC. After successfully winning the bid, it was decided that William would also serve as the Project Manager on the project. However, at the time of the construction of this project, William was struggling in his work environment but he remained diligent to his work while seeing a need to eventually make a change.
Luckily for William, Ed Rabel came into the picture. During this time, Ed had put his current company RUSH Construction, Inc. on a “sabbatical”. He gave his current employees a full year off with pay and he was using this time to reshape the company. Ed was looking for construction companies to acquire and new people to help take RUSH into the right direction. There was an acquisition attempt of William’s former company that did not come to fruition, but this is what led William to first meet Ed. As time passed, William decided to leave his former company to join Ed at RUSH, but not before finishing the job well at the KSC Apollo/Saturn V Center. He was not going to walk away leaving his work unfinished. The completion of this significant project marked the beginning of the new chapter for William with RUSH Construction, Inc.
During the anniversary event, William reflected on the highs, and even some lows, of his 25 years. In 2012, due to changes in the political landscape of government projects, there was a time where William and Ed had to have a serious conversation about keeping the doors open. They’d look around and see some of their competition not doing or believing in the right thing and being rewarded. There had been lows where RUSH would get discouraged and seriously ask, “why are we doing things the right way, it’s not getting us anywhere”. But, they persisted anyway.
Over the last 25 years, the highs far exceeded the lows. The margin between those two categories isn’t even close. For instance, in January of 1997 when William started at RUSH, there were just six employees. In 2000, RUSH became an employee-owned company with eight initial Shareholders and today there are 32 Shareholders. Today, in 2022, the RUSH Family of Companies now employs over 100 individuals.
RUSH went from being a narrowly-focused federal government contractor, to a firm who still does some aerospace and defense work, but also medical, educational, commercial, manufacturing, and other markets, including opening two new successful divisions in marine work and facilities management. In 2020 and 2021, RUSH celebrated the best years in company history and 2022 is on pace to potentially eclipse these records.
But, where William says he takes most pride is that every year and even on the toughest days, RUSH has always tried to do the right thing. The saying around the office is, “You can never go wrong by doing the right thing”. And while it’s well-documented that their core values begin with “Performance with Integrity”, that can just be words on a piece of paper and not mean a thing.
William stands firm that there has never been a moment or a decision made in the last 25 years where they weren’t guided by their principles or made their best attempt to do things the right way. However, none of this would’ve happened by Ed or William alone. Like a football team, the game is not won by a single individual taking the field by themselves. It’s won by a group of people working together and giving the best of themselves each and every day. William believes this is one of the blessings in his life, that he gets to go to work each day and get to work alongside some of the best people in the industry. He may have the honor of serving as a “coach” but he knows he can’t accomplish anything without his team.
William plans on sticking around for a while still and looks forward to the future of working hard, having fun, making a difference in the community, and delivering the best possible product and service to RUSH’s valuable clients. He doesn’t know what the rest of his story will hold, but strives to be a small piece in RUSH’s future success.