1. Archive

Richard L. Wurster

New position: President, chief operating officer, Chitester Management Systems, Tampa

Previous position: Partner, chief operating officer, PEG Park Group, White Plains, N.Y.

Since the beginning of the year, Richard L. Wurster has enjoyed "a unique opportunity" _ a job he considers ideal because it draws on his varied career experiences.

As president and chief operating officer of Chitester Management Systems, a construction consulting, training and staffing company, Wurster sees growth potential in expanding the company's outreach to Florida's lawyers.

His background prepared him well for this undertaking. "In 30 years in business, I've gone from construction through the design process and worked for a law firm, managed it and run a separate consulting group to the law firm that served 350 architects and engineers in the New York metro area," Wurster said.

"I always believe timing is everything in life."

Chitester Management Systems has three divisions: consulting, education and professional staffing. Wurster said one of his first tasks is to expand the education and consulting divisions. The consulting division provides claims analysis, construction consulting and project management. The education division offers educational seminars and continuing education workshops to architects and engineers nationwide and to contractors in Florida. Topics include toxic mold, homeland security and building design.

There's even a construction comedy school seminar run by a professional comedian, Wurster said. "That has really taken hold with contractors in Florida," he said.

For four consecutive years, Chitester has been recognized by the University of Florida as one of the 100 fastest-growing private companies in the state. In 2001, it was named small business of the year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Wurster expects the company to continue to grow.

Litigation in the construction industry is now "about 40 percent of our work," Wurster said. "I would expect that to expand as we become more aggressive on the business development side."

Litigation issues can range from a contractor not completing a project on time or going over budget, to forensic issues such as a building's facade falling. A lot of projects do not end up in court, Wurster said. Many times, disputes can be settled through mediation or arbitration, he said.

"There are 600 to 700 construction attorneys in Florida alone," he said. "Heretofore, we haven't paid enough attention to (them). We've just started a program of seminars to law firms."

Wurster, 56, grew up in Rhode Island and earned a bachelor's of science degree in 1968 in civil engineering at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. In 1976, he earned an MBA from the same college. He began his professional career with Turner Construction Co.

After five years, he joined a construction management company in New York City, then created the Nielsen-Wurster Group, also in New York City. He sold that firm in 1984 and operated a consulting business for three years, then managed a law firm in New York City from 1987 to 1993. He joined the PEG Park Group in 1993.

Wurster said he is enjoying his first summer in Florida after experiencing a "horrible" winter in Connecticut. "We love Florida," he said. Wurster and his wife, Dr. Odette Wurster, have two children. They are looking for a home in the Tampa Bay area.

Wurster said he still tries to find time to play jazz on his trumpet. He played at the Newport Jazz Festival while in college and, in the early 1990s, studied at the Julliard School of Music in New York City, he said.

_ FRED W. WRIGHT JR., Times correspondent