Rooted in JGA
After leaving JGA as an engineer in training 22 years ago, Will Ryan has rejoined us only this time he’s bringing a PE license, a LEED AP designation, a portfolio of strong experience and an entrepreneurial spirit.
You started your career at JGA about 22 years ago. Why come back now?
When I moved back to Columbus in 2016, I ran into Dan (Geers) and Ron (Jezerinac) at the Structural Engineering Association of Ohio conference. Dan and I remained in touch after that.
During the ensuing time I grew to understand Dan’s leadership qualities and how he’s endeavored to grow JGA as a business while building upon the legacy of what Ron and Rick created. When he asked me if I was interested in coming back, it felt like an opportunity to come home.
Now that I’m back, it’s really great catching up with former clients and friends and at the same time meeting new ones. It’s interesting to connect with all who have helped build JGA into what it is today.
What have you been doing since you left us in 1998?
A whole host of things. I studied journalism at the University of Colorado and worked at structural engineering firms in Denver and Dallas. Most recently, I worked for a software company developing steel connection design software. Sprinkled amongst those pursuits I invented, patented and brought to market the Bolt Bun anchor bolt protection device.
Tell me about Bolt Bun. What inspired you to start the company?
There was a eureka moment many years ago, when I was specifying my umpteenth anchor bolt repair, and I said to myself “it seems like it would be simple to protect these anchors, why isn’t there a product out there?”
Years later my father-in-law encouraged me to pursue the idea, and in fits and starts, I did. Like many entrepreneurs, I did almost all the work myself, from design and modeling to marketing and sales. After a lot of effort, it’s been extremely rewarding to see it being used in the field and gaining some traction.
You must have an entrepreneurial spirit. In our industry (design/construction), what’s your view on the importance of innovation?
Just like almost every other industry, the past 25 years has seen a tech revolution for AEC. This has obviously increased productivity, but I feel there’s still a lot of room for improvement in structural engineering software from design, usability and workflow perspectives.
Having worked on both the consultant and development sides, I know what a difficult ask it can be (for both developers and users) to give up on a program or process that has been used “successfully” for years and completely re-imagine a way that it can work better. Hopefully more of this kind of thinking will permeate the industry in the coming years.
What are you most looking forward to in coming back to JGA?
Helping JGA continue to grow its most valuable asset: our client relationships.
You grew up in Worthington right down the road from Ohio State so why go that school “up north?”
My father is a Michigan alum and my mother an OSU alum. I actually grew up as a pretty die-hard Buckeye fan, but when it came time to pick a school, I really wanted to get out of Columbus and experience someplace new. When I visited U of M, I immediately fell in love with Ann Arbor and knew it was the place I wanted to be. Thankfully, my parents thought I was worth the out-of-state tuition to make that a reality!