FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Robert F. Pence, P.E., BCEE, CEO of Freese and Nichols, was recognized by the Fort Worth Business Press as CEO of the Year for a private company. The announcement was made during the publication’s annual Top 100 luncheon at the Fort Worth Club featuring Mayor Betsy Price as keynote speaker. Pence was nominated and selected by the publication’s advisory committee in recognition of his continuation and expansion of the firm’s continuous improvement program, which resulted in Freese and Nichols becoming the first and only engineering and architecture firm to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

“Despite the economic challenges facing our nation’s businesses in recent years, Freese and Nichols is stronger than ever thanks to the firm’s ongoing commitment to its continuous improvement program,” said Nick Karanges, publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. “We cannot imagine a better time to honor the leadership and accomplishments of Bob Pence, and are honored to add him to our distinguished list of the city’s top CEOs.”

Each year, the Fort Worth Business Press convenes an advisory committee composed of publication staff members, business leaders, and former honorees to identify candidates for CEO of the Year in the public and private company categories. Nominees and recipients are considered game-changers in the Fort Worth business community — individuals who are creating and implementing successful strategies, establishing a sustainable management team, ensuring fiscal responsibility and corporate growth, fostering a positive corporate culture, and participating in the community.

Pence joined Freese and Nichols in 1978 as a design engineer, following a two-year engagement with the U.S. Army and two years as a research assistant while earning his master’s degree in civil engineering at Texas A&M University. He was appointed president and CEO of Freese and Nichols in 2002, leading the company through the difficult financial period following Sept. 11 and into a highly productive expansion that continues today with the firm’s pursuit of performance excellence. In recognition of the firm’s continuous improvement journey, Freese and Nichols was recognized as a 2010 recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award — the nation’s highest honor for performance excellence.

Pence’s professional accomplishments are augmented by his community involvement. He has served in leadership positions for numerous professional associations, chaired the campaign for the United Way of Tarrant County and serves as an advocate for children and education.