Paul VanDuyne, President and CEO of IMEG Corp., has always been passionate about learning. Growing up in Edison, New Jersey, he excelled in math and physics, prompting family and teachers to encourage him to become an electrical engineer.
However, as the first person in his family to go to college, he found the experience challenging, and his grades suffered. After leaving college for six months and working as a lab technician, he realized his passion for engineering and decided to return to college. This experience taught him that he had the resilience to succeed.
“Once I returned to Drexel, the industry experience I got was phenomenal and the education I got was phenomenal, because I was ready to learn,” he said. “The whole Drexel experience turned me into a lifelong learner.”
After graduating from Drexel, he worked as a professional engineer, but after a few bumps in the road, his love of learning led him to a new adventure: following a friend’s suggestion to travel to Davenport, Guide, to enroll in Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. This was where he met his wife, Donna, a fellow New Jersey native.
During his time at Palmer, he found work at a 15-person engineering company called Kimmel, Jensen, Wray, and Wegerer (KJWW), where he started doing drafting work. Because of the industry experience he had gained through co-oping at Drexel, he was quickly given more responsibilities and projects until he was almost full-time. The company offered him a full-time job, but he decided to continue his education.
“I'm not the type of person to quit,” he shared. “So I graduated and got my Doctor of Chiropractic degree and passed all my state and national boards. I could literally just go out and hang up a shingle and practice chiropractic. But ultimately, I decided to stay in engineering.”
After graduating, he combined his passion for healthcare with his engineering expertise. He and Sam Wray, one of the founders of KJWW, started reaching out to small community hospitals, asking to handle their engineering work. After completing several projects successfully, they were hired to work on the Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois. The project won several awards and marked a turning point for the company.
“As we expanded and took on clients in other cities, we started to work with other engineering firms,” he recalled. “I remember talking to the president of TTG Engineers out of Pasadena. They wanted to expand into the Midwest and we were looking to do more business in the West, so we decided to merge as equals, and in 2015 we started doing business together under the banner of IMEG.”
VanDuyne began heading up mergers and acquisitions for the new company, which grew from an 800-person to a 2,200-person company and from an $80 million to a more than $400 million company. VanDuyne attributes the success of the company to having a strategic vision that they constantly evaluate and revise.
“Every time we merge with or acquire a company, I personally visit them and introduce them to our values, and we set up a team that can guide them through the process,” he said. “We understand how hard it is to keep people during a merger, and we value what the folks from these companies bring to us, so we want to give them the best experience possible when joining the company. They say that 40% of mergers are successful, but for us, 100% have succeeded.”
VanDuyne has maintained his connection to Drexel throughout his career. He currently serves on President Fry’s Leadership Council and Dean Cairns’ Medical Advisory board in the Dornslife School of Public Health. He and Donna have also established an endowed scholarship within the College of Engineering that targets a student who is late in their career and having financial issues getting their final credits.
“I was in that same space — I was getting towards the end of my academic career and had paid my tuition myself, using what I had made working in the industry, but I was running out by the end of college,” he recalled. “I got a loan that helped me finish, and so I realize what that money can mean to someone at that point in their career.”
Giving back to Drexel in particular, VanDuyne said, is rewarding because of the quality of students that come from his alma mater.
“As a national company, we see a lot of students from a lot of different colleges come in on internships and co-ops,” he said. “I don’t know of another college that has the kind of education that Drexel can offer to engineers.”
As a lifelong learner, VanDuyne attributes his success to immersing himself in every new adventure.
If I could offer a piece of advice to students, it would be that whatever your do, do it with passion,” he said. “Set goals for yourself, and follow through on those goals. So many young people get stalled because they aren’t sure what to do for the rest of their life. But you don’t have to choose one thing and do it for the rest of your life. Just accomplish something, and do it with passion.