WMA Names 2 Recipients of Ron Taylor AwardSeptember 7th, 2017 by Editor
The World Millwork Alliance (WMA) has announced that Brian McIlwee and George Kessel Jr. will receive the 2017 Ron Taylor Award of Integrity and Commitment, which will be given out October 9 at the WMA 53rd Annual Convention & Tradeshow in Charlotte, N.C. Kessel is being honored posthumously.
“The 2017 award recipients, Brian McIlwee and George Kessel, Jr., represent the very best of our association and industry.” said Rosalie Leone, WMA’s chief executive officer.
McIlwee has been with the J. J. McIlwee Company since 1978, and is the second president of their 55-year-old family business, known today as McIlwee Millwork. McIlwee has been a member of the Chicago Family Business Council (CFBC) since 1988. He was instrumental in moving CFBC from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where it originated, to DePaul University in 2011, serving as its president and subsequent chair of the board in 2012.
McIlwee continues to contribute his time and experience to CFBC, assisting in developing protocols and training and as a mentor to other moderators, forums and executive groups to foster the development of CEO leadership skills. McIlwee volunteers as a consultant with several family businesses and is a frequently invited as a guest lecturer at DePaul’s College of Business for entrepreneurship classes, sharing his family business experience.
Active with Boy Scouts of America since his childhood, McIlwee continues his passion today as an Eagle Scout, former Lodge Chief and Vigil Member of the Order of the Arrow. As an adult council volunteer, McIlwee is engaged in several committees supporting alumni development and fundraising efforts within the Northeast Illinois Council boundaries. McIlwee has received several Council President’s Awards, is a member of the Scouting Heritage Society, and designated a James E. West Fellow recognizing his contribution and leadership at the council level.
McIlwee has coached youth sports for over 15 years. He remains an active member of the Darien Lions Club after 30 years; serving on its board for nearly 10 years and as a committee chair and member on numerous committees. McIlwee served as a team leader for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night campaign through his wife Sharon’s prolonged illness. He was a devoted caregiver to her for 14 years.
A longtime supporter of World Millwork Alliance, McIlwee has been involved for more than three decades, generously contributing his time and efforts in supporting the growth of WMA. McIlwee served as 2004 WMA president, as an executive officer, board of director, and as a committee chair and member of numerous committees.
George Kessel, Jr.
Kessel, a former executive officer of World Millwork Alliance, passed away on December 2, 2016. Kessel served in the U.S. Navy between 1970 and 1974. During that time, he served in Vietnam and was stationed on an Air Force base.
Kessel flew in planes gathering intelligence information on the enemy as a radio operator. After his military career, he returned home and pursued a degree in business administration and accounting.
After college, Kessel worked for Deloitte Haskins and Sells CPA firm, where he was assigned as an auditor to Huttig Sash and Door Company, today known as Huttig Building Products. After several years, Kessel was offered the position of controller at Huttig. He later became vice president and treasurer.
In 1994, Kessel joined Morgan Wightman Supply Company as president. He brought a wealth of corporate knowledge and leadership skills to the company where he remained for 22 years until retiring in 2016.
For nearly 30 years, Kessel has been a part of the millwork industry, mentoring and inspiring others with his entrepreneurial spirt. An active longtime member of World Millwork Alliance since 1994, Kessel volunteered his time freely and was dedicated to supporting the progress and prosperity of the Association. Kessel served as an association executive officer, treasurer, board of director and finance committee chairman, and he was a member of numerous committees until 2016.
Kessel contributed to his community coaching youth baseball and soccer for several years. A devoted father of three, he made it his priority to attended every baseball, soccer, hockey and lacrosse game for his children. Kessel loved the outdoors, whether spending time on the golf course or taking a pleasure ride on his motorcycle.
Kessel will be remembered for his unselfish contributions to all facets of his life, his commitment to give one hundred percent to every endeavor, and as a gentleman who gave meaning to the word “integrity.”