Kim Bassett-Heitzmann, Bassett Mechanical

IB Wisconsin's Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet the state's professionals. This week features Kim Bassett-Heitzmann, president and CEO of Bassett Mechanical.

Kim Bassett-Heitzmann, president and CEO, Bassett Mechanical

Address: 1215 Hyland Ave., Kaukauna, WI 54130
Phone: 920-759-2500
Birthplace: Albany, N.Y.

Board Membership: Currently, board member for Goodwill Industries of North Central WI (NCW), Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, Mechanical Contractors Association of NCW (local board), and Mechanical Contractors Association of WI (state board)

Education: Master’s degree in speech pathology from UW-Madison and master’s degree in management technology with an emphasis in construction from UW-Stout

How long have you been at Bassett Mechanical, and how would you describe your role?
I started washing company trucks at age 15 and worked various jobs at Bassett Mechanical during summers/holidays. I initially chose a different career path and returned to Bassett Mechanical as a professional in late 1996. I currently serve as president/CEO and concentrate my efforts on setting the vision and strategy, coaching and mentoring others, and being a change management leader.

Who would you say has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
My parents have been instrumental in helping me be the leader I am today. They have been great role models for everything from demonstrating a good work ethic to establishing core values to believing in one’s self.

Who would you most like to be a mentor to, or have the most influence on?
I think that our youth, especially females, need to know that they can be or do anything if they set their mind to it. Attitude is half the battle. Our youth need to see the opportunities before them and then invest in themselves. Many of the barriers to success are ones we create ourselves. These need to be overcome.

What was a personal high point in your career?
When my dad announced he was moving to chairman of the board (his first promotion in 35 years) and I was to be the CEO. I had worked long and hard to achieve that position by serving in various roles throughout the organization over the course of 10-plus years. It’s similar to the mountain climber reaching the peak – you work very hard to prove you can do it – and then you reach the top and know it was worth the journey.

What special career advice do you have for someone who is looking for meaningful work in this economic climate?
There are many opportunities for meaningful work if one is willing to invest in one’s self. Whether it’s attending college, obtaining a technical degree, or going through an apprenticeship program, jobs these days require more skill sets (for example, problem solving and decision making). People have to be flexible and willing to try different avenues as well as take on more or different responsibilities. Change is a constant in today’s business world. One has to ebb and flow with these changes and embrace them, not fight them.

Do you have any long-range goals that you’d like to achieve before leaving Bassett?
I’d like to see Bassett Mechanical passed on to future generations and celebrate another 75 years. In order to do that, I need to ensure that the business has a good strategy to ensure growth and sustainability. We need to continue to invest in our people and ensure we offer the very best product and service to our customers. If I can achieve our vision of “Empowered people working together providing unrivaled experiences to create customers for life,” then I will have achieved my long-range goal.

What is your assessment of where the Wisconsin economy is headed? Wisconsin is one of the top-rated industrialized states in the country. We produce some of the best-known products in the world. According to a statistic I recently read, Wisconsin’s manufacturing base creates nearly 450,000 high-paying jobs in the state. Many businesses, however, are uncertain about the future economic status of our nation and are cautious about hiring and expanding. That being said, Wisconsin leaders are resourceful. They are finding new opportunities to play defense. They are investing in people and/or equipment, are outsourcing non-core functions, and are implementing technology to capture new markets. Businesses also need government’s help by re-evaluating tax structures (for both individuals and businesses), curtailing and revising regulations, and loosening the tight credit restrictions. If these issues can be addressed in a business-friendly manner, confidence will increase, businesses will invest and grow, jobs will be created, and our economy will move forward in a positive direction.

What do you read to help keep you current in your field or industry?
I read everything from The Fabricator to Engineering News Record. As an organization, we are affiliated with a variety of trade associations: IIAR, MCAA, SMACNA, and Linc to name a few.

When you were in high school, what were your career aspirations? Did you meet any of those? If they changed, why?
I knew I wanted to pursue a career that helped people. That is how I ended up becoming a therapist. When I made the career switch, I knew I’d still be able to help people – now it’s just through a different avenue. Whether it’s through coaching and mentoring or solving a customer’s problem, I still get the satisfaction of helping others.

What brought you to Wisconsin?
I lived in a couple states before we moved to Wisconsin. My great uncle had approached my father about taking over the business so we moved here when I was about 6 years old.

What do you do outside of the office to relax?
The majority of my time is spent with my children. We love to boat, spend time outdoors, travel, and try new activities. I also try to dedicate one day every couple of months to scrapbooking. It’s a great retreat from everyday life, and it allows me to reminisce about days gone by.

What is your favorite place to travel to, and why?
I don’t necessarily have a favorite. A memorable trip was one I took to Italy in 2000. My family and I traveled the country and experienced much of what it has to offer ­– skied the Alps, experienced the romanticism of Venice, enjoyed the food in Florence, and toured Rome by visiting the Colosseum and the Vatican. I would love to see more of Europe and other parts of the world.

What kinds of books do you read for pleasure? What’s a recent title that might give us the flavor of what you like to read?
I am an avid reader. I recently finished Body Double by Tess Gerritsen. I enjoy action-packed thrillers that leave you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next.

Finally, list three words you think best describe you:
Honest, impatient, fun-loving.