March 1, 2012

Cover Story

CEO of the Year

Utah’s business landscape is rich with professionals who have le...Read More

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CEO of the Year

Di Lewis & Heather Stewart

March 1, 2012

One of the most meaningful aspects of the job, says Miller, is the opportunity to give back to the community. “That can come through the creation of quality jobs, it can come through opportunities to learn and grow individually, [and] it can come through philanthropic activities.”

Steve Starks, executive vice president at the company, says of Miller, “We’ve seen him grow, and we’ve seen the company grow as a result. There’s really positive things ahead under his leadership.”

Kip Wadsworth
Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Company, LLC

“I remember the day in 2008…when UDOT announced they were putting a freeze on all construction spending for the immediate future,” says Kip Wadsworth. With its primary expertise in heavy highway and bridge construction, 80 percent of Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction’s business at that time was through UDOT.

Through Wadsworth’s leadership, the executive team came up with a four-pronged plan to avert disaster. The company would advocate to get UDOT’s pipeline flowing again, look for operational efficiencies, search for new revenue streams and seek out cost-cutting opportunities.

The plan worked so well, says Wadsworth, that the year was the company’s biggest profit year and revenues grew by 25 percent.

Wadsworth assumed leadership of the company in 2002, when he and his brothers bought the company from their father. Since that time, revenues have grown from $31.3 million to an estimated $201 million in 2011. The company has diversified and now has a design-build division, a commercial and industrial building division, and a special projects division, among many others.

Wadsworth has worked continuously at the company since the age of 13 and says construction can be a deeply satisfying career. “At the end of the day when you go home, you can look back and see what you’ve built. When you drive over the roads and the bridges and the projects you’ve done, it gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. Ever since I first got that feeling, I wanted to continue to do this.”

And many notable roads and bridges in Utah were built by Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction. Some of the company’s recent projects include the $1.1 billion I-15 CORE project in Utah County, the $54 million SR-201 design-build reconstruction project and the $210 million UTA Commuter Rail project.

The company has also performed 21 bridge placements using the cutting-edge accelerated bridge construction (ABC) technology. This technique involves pre-constructing a bridge and then transporting it to the placement site. Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction has placed the vast majority of the ABC bridges in Utah and 30 percent of such bridges in the United States—more than any other company, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

“I see a bright future for us. This last year, we purchased our first company—made an acquisition down in Arizona…and we’ve already garnered some rewards from that. We just got a big project down there. So I see us being able to grow—grow through acquisition, grow organically,” says Wadsworth.

“Kip is a team builder,” says CFO Kevan Blair. “He combines that knowledge of how to do the work and build the projects with a real innate ability to work with people.”

Wadsworth was one of the founders of the Utah National Guard Charitable Trust, which helps deployed soldiers and their families. Wadsworth’s annual fundraising efforts have channeled the efforts of more than 1,000 companies and brought in $900,000 in donations to date.

Mike Cameron
Christopherson Business Travel

Mike Cameron has owned Christopherson Business Travel for nearly 22 years, and during that time the company has faced several major challenges: the rise of the internet and online bookings, the loss of airline commissions, the Sept. 11 tragedy and its impact on travel, and several economic downturns.

“We’ve had our hands full with major crisis after crisis in this business,” says Cameron. “We’ve taken all of them head on and found solutions for all of them, and we’ve turned all of them into opportunities.”

The company was bringing in $1 million in revenues in 2010, and it was on track to end 2011 at $285 million. Cameron has set a goal to grow the company to $500 million in revenues within four years.

“Stick to what you’re good at and stay focused on your strategy,” he says—a lesson he learned the hard way. When the company built its own building 11 years ago, consolidating several office locations, Cameron decided to take the opportunity to change the business name from Christopherson Business Travel to Christopherson Travel Group. He says the rebrand was ultimately a mistake. “I should have stuck with what we were good at and what we had developed our reputation on.”

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