Nix Plans Career Perfectly

October 12, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Longevity and a lasting presence began fading from the workplace over a decade ago. Hardly any employees can claim a lengthy tenure with a single firm on their work history today.

Larry Nix, however, is an exception to that modern-day scenario. He is one of a select few that likely have a very short resume.

Nix is the managing principal of Williams & Works Inc., a planning, engineering and surveying company situated just north of the Central Business District in Grand Rapids.

Nix joined the company in 1975 right after he earned his Urban Planning degree from MichiganStateUniversity and has stayed at the firm throughout its management transitions and business expansions.

“I was an entry-level planner. Basically, I was a support person for senior planners within the organization at that time, doing research and writing reports. That eventually turned into starting to work with clients,” he said.

After a few years of meeting with clients and making presentations to them, he began to manage some of the projects. And his success at managing those projects for Williams & Works led him into the position of managing the firm.

“I’ve been through a lot of ownership and management changes,” he said.

Even as the managing principal of the firm, often a post that keeps its holder hostage in the office, Nix still maintains an active list of clients and spends plenty of time in the field when he isn’t directing the company.

“I try to provide guidance and leadership for the overall organization, run our meetings and try to keep things organized and answer questions here internally,” he said.

Nix, a native of Trenton, wanted a career in architecture when he graduated from high school. So he attended FerrisStateUniversity and earned an associate’s degree in the field. But his educational journey was interrupted for a few years when he was drafted into the Army and served an overseas tour in Turkey

After he was honorably discharged, Nix went to work in Detroit as an architectural designer. An engineer at that firm got him involved with creating site plans for various projects, and there Nix knew what he wanted to do with his work life.

“He and I got to know each other quite well. He told me that I had kind of a knack for layout and design. He asked if I had ever thought about being a planner. He told me to contact MichiganStateUniversity and talk to the folks over there and I did,” Nix said.

“I then made the decision that I wanted to work in this consulting area and sought a job at Williams & Works. And that has been where I’ve been resting my hat ever since.”

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary for the personable Nix with Williams & Works. Although he has enjoyed laying out site plans all these years, what he likes best about what he does involves people.

“Working with people, solving their problems, helping them through new development proposals,” he said. “Municipalities are who I normally work with — townships, cities, villages — and guiding them through a developer’s rezoning or development request and coming to a good solution to the situation being presented by the applicant.

“My goal is to have a happy developer and a happy community with a new development,” he added. “I do enjoy working with people.”

Two of the people Nix enjoys most are Chris and Brian. Larry is married to Chris and their son, Brian, recently enrolled at WesternMichiganUniversity as a freshman. Chris has her own business, Freeman Media Services, in which she buys advertising time on radio and television for her clients.

“It’s a business she has been in all her life. She worked with Channel 6 over in Lansing. She has worked with most of the radio stations in town here, along with TV-8 and TV-41. She has been in this business for 30-some-odd years now,” he said.

In the warm-weather months when Nix isn’t working he likes to ride his motorcycles and play golf, though not both at the same time. He owns a pair of classic Harley Davidson “hogs.” One is a 1983 Sportster, while the other is a full-sized, saddle-bagged Dresser that was built in 1989. He bought both new.

“In the wintertime, I exercise and try to stay fit. I like to travel, go on vacations with the family,” he said.

“I loved the Grand Canyon. What a wonderful and magnificent place. I would love to go back out there and spend more time at the Grand Canyon.”

Nix is a board member with the South Kent AMBUCS and the Monroe North Business Association. He also belongs to the Michigan Society of Planners.

As for future, Nix doesn’t see any major changes hovering over his immediate horizon. No, the planner plans to put in more years of service at Williams & Works with partners and a crew that he cherishes, in an environment he comfortably gets pleasure from.

So don’t expect his resume to get any longer.

“Continuing to grow the business and be successful, enjoy my business partners and all the employees here. We have a wonderful staff,” he said. “My goal is to continue flourishing and satisfying the needs of our clients.”    

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