October 4, 2019 marks WSB’s 24th year of business. Every year on our firm’s anniversary, I reflect on WSB’s journey. Recently, I was in New York City at a conference and was reminiscing on the past 24 years and thinking about the future. While in New York, I saw the musical Hamilton again and began to understand why I’m drawn to it. One of the early songs in Hamilton is called “My Shot.” Alexander Hamilton sings about his place in history and how he is not going to throw away the opportunity that he has been given. He says that he is like his country, “young, scrappy and hungry.” That description is a good way to describe WSB founders Ron Bray, Pete Willenbring, Don Sterna and myself 24 years ago. In terms of firm age and staff, that description remains true in 2019. We have grown from seven staff in one oversized office in 1995 to more than 500 staff in 12 offices throughout four states today. Our secret sauce has always been our attitude of hunger and scrappiness – now reflected in our WSB Way values that remind us to be bold, authentic, passionate, optimistic and visionary.
As four founders on the verge of something new, we didn’t throw away our shot and we continue to work every day to provide opportunities to our staff so they can take their shot in a supportive and collaborative environment. Now 24 years later, I am more inspired by our team and have more passion and fire to be the best that we can be. Our industry is changing at a pace that we haven’t seen before, and we must be at the forefront of that change. I’m amazed when successful companies choose to relax and rest on past successes. Nothing is promised to us and without continued improvement and change, those companies will not exist in the future. From technology, productivity, sustainability to diversity, there is much more to do, and I believe that we are well-positioned to continue to lead. In recent years, we’ve been improving quality, expanding our offerings to new markets and service areas, and focusing on hiring and developing an amazing team. I am so thankful for our staff and clients who have helped build WSB and I am excited for our future successes as we begin to celebrate our 25th year in 2020.
In the musical, Hamilton’s wife says that he writes like he is running out of time. I can appreciate that feeling as we race to be our best. WSB is still a young company and there is much more ahead of us. My advice to our staff is to keep their heads up and watch for opportunities. Don’t make assumptions or preplan your career. You might miss out on something wonderful that you couldn’t have imagined. We have lived by that philosophy over the past 24 years and I know that our 25th year will be no different.
Today, we take time to celebrate the success we have had for 24 years, and after we will look to the future and move forward with passion, optimism and a bold vision to be the most authentic firm we can be. As Alexander Hamilton says, “That would be enough!”