After a 28-year tenure at Karpinski Engineering and more than 40 years in the industry, Karpinski Engineering Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing Dennis Wessel is retiring.
Dennis joined the firm in 1987, becoming a partner two years later. In 2004, he became a senior vice president and the director of marketing.
Dennis’s career has been marked by a distinctive blend of technical excellence and client service. As Karpinski Engineering President Jim Cicero said, “Dennis set the bar for technical excellence. He has a unique ability to provide that technical excellence with exceptional client service, and he was able to instill these attributes into the culture of Karpinski Engineering.”
“Our clients love this about Dennis,” said Frank Eisenhower, Vice President and Director of Columbus Operations.
Dennis made a point of establishing and maintaining relationships with clients. He kept touch with people, wrote notes, and forwarded project opportunities to his contacts. He was also unstoppable when it came to pursuing project opportunities, and he was bold about making cold (and warm) calls. Dennis commented that it was hard to take rejection, but “the only way you’re going to get anywhere” is to contact people.
“You’ve got to have the guts to have someone say ‘no’ or slam the door in your face,” he said.
His tenacity landed Karpinski Engineering some of its largest projects – such as the new Cleveland Convention Center and the Cleveland Museum of Art addition and renovation.
Dennis is “a huge reason as to why the company is as successful as it is today,” said Rocco Gallo, Karpinski Engineering Vice President and Director of Electrical. “He paved the way for our growth.”
Jim “Karp” Karpinski, one of the firm’s founders, states it simply: “He’s done an exemplary job.”
And for Dennis, he finds it gratifying that people have “put enough faith in me and Karpinski Engineering to give us some of the projects we’ve gotten.”
Dennis is also known for his involvement with ASHRAE – so much so that he’s sometimes referred to as “Mr. ASHRAE.” Dennis initially joined the local ASHRAE chapter for the camaraderie. Then, he began to be asked to help with the chapter. The opportunities built on one another, and Dennis became involved at the local, regional, and then national level. He has served on many committees, contributed to ASHRAE’s handbook chapter on Tall Buildings, and served on the project committee for ASHRAE and the DOE’s publication “Advanced Energy Design Guide for Small Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities.”
Today, he serves on the ASHRAE Board of Directors. Along the way, Dennis said, he has made “some awesome friends.”
Dennis’s contributions have been recognized in the industry and the community. In 1996, he was given the ASHRAE Distinguished Service Award, and in 1998, was named an ASHRAE Fellow. The Cleveland Technical Society Committee named him Engineer of the Year in 2003 (the award is now given by the Cleveland Engineering Society). Cleveland State University named him one of their Outstanding Engineering Alumni in 2004. And he was a recipient of the 2010 ASHRAE Cleveland Chapter Service Award.
The announcement of his eventual retirement came in 2010, during a time of continued growth for Karpinski Engineering. The firm’s leadership responded by re-visioning Karpinski Engineering’s approach to business development.
“No one person is going to replace Dennis Wessel,” said Cicero. Rather, the firm has transitioned its business development approach and culture to be a firm-wide endeavor, with all staff involved in serving clients and building relationships.
Though Dennis is retiring, he is not leaving the profession. He is presently serving a term as Director-at-Large of ASHRAE, and he is a member of several other ASHRAE committees. He is also a member of the Kent State University Architectural Faculty Advisory Board and the Cleveland State University Alumni Board. He anticipates occasionally returning to the Karpinski Engineering office to consult on projects.
Dennis said that working for Karpinski Engineering has “been like a family.”
“I think what I’ll miss the most are the people…I’m really going to miss that connection.”
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karpinskimarketing [at] gmail [dot] com
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