March 31, 2014
Contact: Steve Rottinghaus, Baker University public relations director, (785) 594-8330 or
Baker experience helped prepare Lansford for new CEO position
Baldwin City, Kan. — Founded in 1924, JE Dunn is known as a leading provider of construction management services, design-build and integrated project delivery. Two of
its recent projects include the renovation and expansion of Mulvane Hall to form the Ivan L. Boyd Center for Collaborative Science Education and the Student Union renovation on the Baldwin City campus.
Since his promotion at the first of the year to chief executive officer
and president at JE Dunn Construction Co., Gordon Lansford III, '93, still
maintains the corner office from his previous role with the business. He
never tires of the view from the fifth story of his company's building
overlooking the skyline in downtown Kansas City, Mo.
"I will not be changing a lot," said Lansford, who has worked for JE Dunn
for 18 years and has been the firm's chief financial officer since 1998.
"I have been a part of the strategic direction of the company and plan to
follow the strategic plan we set the last couple of years. I will have
more direct contact and engagement with our clients. I have been involved
with developing strategy, and now I will be responsible for the execution
of our strategy. We have a great leadership team with a lot of continuity.
I want to make sure I do everything I can to help our people accomplish
When Lansford was announced in December as the new CEO, he became the
first non-family member to run the company in its 90-year history.
"I never imagined a few years ago that I would be in this position,"
Gordon said. "I have worked closely with the family and they have trust in
Terry Dunn, the previous chief executive, will continue to serve as the
CEO of the JE Dunn Construction Group. Steve Dunn will remain chairman of
the JE Dunn board, and William H. Dunn Sr. is chairman emeritus of the
"It is important to our culture to have members of the Dunn family to
continue to serve in leadership positions," Lansford said. "Relationships
are always our utmost priority."
After graduating from Baker in 1993 with an accounting degree, Lansford
worked for KPMG for three years and became a certified public accountant.
He developed an interest in the construction industry after working with
construction and engineering clients before becoming director of internal
audit at Dunn.
"The company was really growing and going through acquisitions at that
time," Lansford recalled of joining JE Dunn in the late 1990s. "It was a
great opportunity to learn more about the business."
The 12th largest general contractor in the United States with 20 offices
in four regions, JE Dunn employs more than 1,000 in Kansas City, including
its office headquarters and on-site personnel. The company reported
revenue of $300 million in 1996 with a peak of $2.8 billion in 2008 before
the recession. Lansford said the revenue for 2014 will be $2.5 billion to
While holding true to the company's values and policies established for
nearly a century, Lansford plans to "enhance the culture."
"I want JE Dunn to be a more attractive place for the millennials," he
noted. "We will want to be more flexible and allow our employees to be
more empowering. We need to be more adaptable. Millennials are looking for
more of a work-life balance and the ability to provide input."
Lansford plans to stress transparency with the leadership team and all
employees across the country. Four years ago, he drove the initiative for
the company to be partly employee-owned. About 10 percent of the firm¹s
stock is now owned by employees.
"We are embracing continuous improvement and expect feedback from our
employees," Lansford said. "We want to create a culture where our
employees act like owners because they are. Creating the partly
employee-owned structure has paid off because we are really seeing the
engagement of all of our team."
Lansford has been connected to Baker since the late 1980s when his sister
Leslie (Lansford) Harris, '90, was a student on the Baldwin City campus.
His sister Rebecca (Lansford) Wylie, '99, is a graduate of Baker's School
of Professional and Graduate Studies campus in Topeka.
"Through Leslie I found Baker," Gordon said proudly. "She got really
involved in all Baker had to offer. My parents and I saw the value of
Baker through her."
Gordon, a member of Delta Tau Delta, reflects fondly on his days as a
student. Business courses taught by Lee Green, Martha Harris, '79, and
Gary Irick, '79, resonate with him two decades later.
"Becoming involved and having personal connections with faculty and staff
provide a great learning experience and opportunities for personal
development," he said. "The quality of education is outstanding. I
continue to benefit from it today."
The walls in Lansford's office are coated with family portraits and
snapshots from vacations. Gordon and his high school and college
sweetheart, Marti (Stowe) Lansford, '93, celebrated their 20th wedding
anniversary in August. They live in Overland Park, Kan., with their
children, Jake, 16, Brooke, 13, and Luke, 11.
Despite the demands of his new position, Gordon plans to put family first.
"Marti and the kids have always been supportive of me," Gordon said. "I am
a huge believer in work-life balance and I will continue to live that way
and stress how important family is."
Lansford will also remain committed to serving on Baker's Board of
Trustees. He has served eight years on the board of his alma mater.
"It has been a real honor to serve as a trustee and work with Dr. Pat
Long," he said. "She is one of the best leaders, if not the best leader, I
have been around. I will apply a lot to my new role from what I've learned
from her about thinking strategically, creating a strong vision and
balancing that with a great deal of caring and compassion."
Baker University is committed to assuring student learning, and developing confident, competent and responsible contributors to society.