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2013 Dynamic Dozen Top Local Executive: John Wanamaker

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When the financial downturn hit in 2008, John Wanamaker opened his door wider.

The managing partner for BKD LLP’s Southern Missouri Practice Unit, which includes Springfield, Branson and Joplin, had been meeting monthly with senior managemers to discuss current business and growth strategies. But when he realized similar, open-door gatherings with senior supervisors would extend the circle of transparent management, Wanamaker began breakfast-with-the-managing-partner meetings once a quarter.

“It was so well received that I’ve continued,” he said. “When you’re dealing with tough times, when you don’t tell people what’s going on, they’ll think the worst.”

That commitment to shared responsibility and two-way communication informs much of how Wanamaker approaches his job, which includes clear expectations, honest feedback, continuous improvement, accountability and always delivering a superior result for clients. “I believe strongly in creating an environment of trust and support that encourages people to achieve our overall goals,” he says.

One of those goals has been to guide his practice unit through the downturn, which meant losing some long-term clients and adjusting business for others.

“Our clients have been hit hard throughout the course of the recession and that, accordingly, affected us as well,” Wanamaker says. “I am very proud to say that, since the beginning of the recession, our Southern Missouri Practice Unit has achieved very good growth in comparison to other practice units across the firm as well as in comparison to the industry of public accounting as a whole.”

With the fiscal year ending May 31, Wanamaker’s offices are on track to post revenues of nearly $43 million, up from pre-recession revenues of about $35 million.

Wanamaker and his team viewed challenging times as a chance to bid for new clients and present BKD as a viable alternative.

“You can put your head in the sand and say woe is me, or you can look at the opportunity,” Wanamaker says. “I feel like that’s what we did. We have great people, too. ... You don’t just win clients. You have to perform and do great work for them.”

To that end, he has ensured that redesigned business development plans were established for each industry team, and he attended quarterly meetings to review progress and hold partners and managers accountable for securing new business.

Investing in strategic partnerships has been key, too. Wanamaker recently accepted an offer from the National Association of Community Health Centers for the Southern Missouri Practice Unit’s Community Health Center team to become a national sponsor. It involves a significant financial commitment, but it brings recognition to BKD as the leading CPA firm serving that business niche, Wanamaker says.

His commitment to excellence extends into the community, where he has served numerous nonprofit and civic organizations. Wanamaker is a board member for Care to Learn and he is past president of the Springfield Business Development Corp., a public-private partnership promoting business development in the Springfield metro area.[[In-content Ad]]


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