Wade Reimer: Leader & Developer of Structural Engineers

When former Vice President of Engineering John Lewis began planning for his eventual retirement, he and Dean Newins, President & Chief Executive Officer of Opus AE Group, put their heads together to create a short list of who could succeed John. The bar was high, given John's 43-year tenure at Opus. Their discussions led them to Wade Reimer, who had been Senior Project Engineer on John's team from 1998 to 2010.

Wade was intrigued. Having spent that time here, he was well aware of the supportive culture and benefits of a vertically integrated approach with in-house teams, as well as the nature of the work the structural engineering group typically manages. All were appealing to him. And while he enjoyed working for his current employer at the time, he had advanced to a business development role that pulled him away from what he most enjoyed – managing and developing people.

“I never would have left there for an unknown," he said of his decision to return to Opus in October 2022. “It wasn't really a light-switch decision, but I knew that Opus is unique, and it was a one-of-a-kind opportunity."

Today, Wade leads the engineering team, who, because of our vertical integration, are involved through the entirety of a project. They consult with the developers on site feasibility and work alongside architects and designers, as well as project managers and field associates throughout the construction phase.

Brain vs. Braun

Wade grew up in a long line of hard-working farmers and may not have gone to college without his father's influence.

“My dad was a smart man," he recalled. “He made me work as a tender for family friends masonry company one summer, which was hard work, and for another uncle's landscaping business. That too involved a lot of physical labor. Knowing that a career lasts nearly a lifetime, I learned that I'd rather use my brain than my body at work."

After high school, Wade enrolled at Michigan Technological University and through his own research, homed in on chemical engineering as a possible major. He had interest and skills in math and science, but chemical engineering wasn't the right fit. He considered mining engineering but realized that was a declining industry with limited job opportunities. After a year or two undeclared, he found civil/structural engineering and stuck with it. He graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.

Wade was his family's first college graduate. But he wasn't done yet.

Wade went on to earn a Master of Science in Structural Engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1997. He then accepted a job teaching at the school for a year, just before being hired by Opus for his first engineering position. While in that position, Wade earned his MBA from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Business in 2007. On a mission to build his resume, he worked at Xcel Energy in engineering and construction project management for two years. Then, wanting to be closer to his family back in Michigan, he took a transition job until being hired by Commonwealth Associates six months later.

Mentoring An Experienced Team

Wade's prior Opus experience, including working alongside three of the eight engineers on his team today, helped expedite the onboarding process when he accepted the Vice President position in 2022.

He knew coming in that his team was quite experienced. The most junior person had been here for nine years. The group's advanced level of experience means Wade can spend time strategically managing the business and engineering initiatives.

“What I like most is mentoring, developing and coaching people," Wade said. “At Opus, I'm able to take care of the business and spend time further developing the outstanding engineers on my team. They handle the bulk of the day-to-day engineering activities, which I don't do much of anymore."

“Wade brings a fresh perspective to our structural engineering team," Dean said. “I really appreciate his collaborative approach. It's clear he is passionate about his work and leading the team."

Trusted to Lead

Wade has a reputation as a born leader. When he was at Commonwealth Associates, an employee-owned company, he was elected to the company's board of directors in 2017 by his peers and fellow shareholders. The first election was from a pool of four Board vetted candidates; two were elected for a two-year term. Wade was re-elected to the Board in 2019 through a similar process.

“When I was nominated, my gut impulse reaction was to decline the opportunity," he said. “However, it really meant a lot to me that my colleagues trusted my leadership and were confident I'd be successful in the role so I decided to throw my hat in the ring."

Wade served on the board for five year, until his resignation including three years as treasurer. Wade also served on the risk management committee.

In his free time, Wade is an outdoors guy who loves to fish muskies, hunt and camp. One of his favorite things is to travel to remote areas to fish and unplug from the busyness of life. He grew up camping with family and has continued that tradition with his five nieces and nephews. 


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