Bill Tech will celebrate 27 years with Omaha-based Travel and Transport Inc. on Feb. 1, and this anniversary will be unlike any other he's had — it will be his last as CEO.
Tech, who will be 65 years old in March, is retiring from the top post of the fifth-largest travel management company in the U.S. effective Dec. 31, 2014, the company announced.
Succeeding him is 20-year Travel and Transport veteran Kevin O'Malley, an Omaha native and Creighton University graduate who was most recently executive vice president of the company. He stepped in as president on Jan. 1. He becomes CEO on Dec. 31.
Both Tech and O'Malley served as chief financial officer for Travel and Transport, a company that has reinvented itself many times since it was founded in 1946 and is coming off a string of four record-breaking years in a row.
“We've worked together for 20 years, and you don't stick around this industry if you don't like change,” O'Malley said. “I think we'll continue to do acquisitions, and there's a good likelihood in three to five years those will take us into international markets.”
Among the changes during Tech's tenure: transferring 100 percent ownership of the company to its employees. That accomplishment, Tech said, is the one he's most proud of, but it didn't happen overnight.
The employee stock ownership plan was formed in 1991 when two of the company's six shareholders sold 30 percent of the company's stock to employees. It wasn't until December 2000 that the remaining shareholders relinquished an additional 40 percent, and it was almost two more years before the remaining 30 percent was in employee hands.
Travel and Transport grew under Tech's leadership from a 400-employee company to one with 1,100 employees today. He also oversaw its largest-ever acquisition of New York-based Ultramar in October 2010.
“We had no intention of laying off any employees there and they had 276 employees. Now, they're just over 300 and that (acquisition) has been very successful for us,” Tech said.
Tech became chairman of Travel and Transport on Jan. 1 and will continue in the role moving forward, though he will no longer serve on other local boards, including the board of governors for the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and First Westroads Bank.
He and his wife plan to relocate to Denton, Texas, where they will be closer to their youngest daughter and three grandchildren.
“It may be hard to believe, but I'll do what most retired people do and that's travel,” Tech said.
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