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New Leaders You Should Know: Chris Adams

Published Thursday Oct 26, 2023

Author Scott Merrill

New Leaders You Should Know: Chris Adams

Chris Adams took over as president and CEO of the Nobis Group in Concord on July 24, years after his career at the company began during a trip to NH to see his sister, who had recently been hired at Nobis. While standing in the lobby at the company, Adams had a chance to be interviewed for a job. “I got interviewed in the lobby, and I had a job the next day,” he says. “I started out as a staff engineer and was on the civil engineering team.”

It wasn’t long before Adams says he was placed in the field on a large federal remediation project. “That gave me the opportunity to oversee construction and to use my engineering skills and to interact directly with clients,” he says. “All that experience helped me to progress into becoming a project manager and eventually the director of our civil
engineering team.”

The director’s position provided Adams with exposure to the management side of the business, a role he gravitated toward. Most recently he has served as vice president of operations and member of the board of directors at Nobis Group, an employee-owned civil engineering firm in Concord that started in 1988. Adams, who turned 50 in February, replaces outgoing President and CEO Ken Koorneef, who worked for the Nobis Group for 34 years.

When Adams is not overseeing the firm, the new leader is pursuing other passions that include fishing, being a “dance dad” and coaching his daughter’s soccer team.

Adams’s career trajectory towards Nobis was a fortuitous one, starting at a Vermont college as an architecture major and a soccer player in the early 1990s. After his freshman year, the school’s architecture program failed to receive accreditation, and Adams decided to transfer to the University of Buffalo where he hoped to continue playing soccer and pick up his studies in architecture. 

“It’s funny because when I transferred to the University of Buffalo, I actually didn’t get into their architecture program, but I did make their soccer team,” Adams says. He changed his major to civil engineering because, he says, it was the closest to architecture and because of the design and drafting aspects that he enjoyed. “When one door closes, another one opens,” Adams says, adding that after receiving his degree he worked in New Jersey as a solid waste engineer designing landfills, gas stations and on other land development projects.

Adams has worked on a variety of projects over the years ranging in cost from $2,500 to $25 million, he says.  Now he leads the Nobis Group, a 100% employee-owned company with 76 employees, which primarily serves three market sectors that include commercial and government clients.

“The two big things I’m focused on are our employee owners and our clients,” Adams says. “We have talented engineers, scientists, geologists, hydrogeologists and business resource staff that really make up the fabric of our organization. My focus is on providing a strong culture for them, providing them social opportunities and giving them advancement opportunities.”

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