Entrepreneur: Retirees get back into the game on their terms

SUBSCRIBER CONTENT: Nov 16, 2017, 1:10pm CST


Adam Vogler

Joseph Lake (left) and Bill Wood are co-founders of Corps Consulting, which they started in 2016. Wood (Marine Corps) and Lake (U.S. Army) are veterans, and much of their executive search work involves fellow veterans.

When Bill Wood and Joseph
“Joe Bob” Lake retired, neither were ready to stop being engaged in the world. So they joined forces, and now their new venture does only work that interests them, freed from constraints younger entrepreneurs may wrestle with.

Bill Wood and Joe Bob Lake both had long, successful careers, but when it came time to retire, they found themselves feeling like they had lost their purpose. So they became entrepreneurs again — this time on their terms.

Wood was co-founder of Overland Park-based executive search firm Wood Snodgrass Inc., selling his interest in the company to his partner, Steve Snodgrass, in 2015. Lake spent 25 years in his family business, Western Financial Corporation, until it sold in 1993. He spent the next decades working as an executive for hire in a variety of industries.

Lake and Wood, friends for 27 years, started talking a year ago and found they both needed a new project. The two formed a new executive search firm called Corps Consulting LLC, setting up an office at 8695 College Blvd. in Overland Park.

“Some guys and gals when they reach retirement age decide to go travel and do some things, but neither of us felt that was something we wanted to do,” Lake said. “We both wanted to stay active. We wanted to keep our body and mind going. And I love this line of work because every day you engage with some of the most interesting people that you can imagine.”

Unlike many younger entrepreneurs, Lake and Wood had the luxury of setting up the business to handle the types of jobs they want, instead of being engrossed in getting established and growing. They take only the most interesting, high-level executive searches, which use their experience the best.

“If we had to do the same thing all the time, like only look for systems people or only look for electrical engineers, we’d go crazy, but this is fun,” Wood said. “We can pick and choose what we want to do. Recently, we did an assignment for Armed Forces Insurance in Leavenworth. We got to put a list together of about 60 retired admirals and generals. They were just so interesting to talk to. It was really unbelievable. It was a lot of fun.”

The partners hire a couple of researchers to do the “dirty work” of identifying potential candidates around the country for a specific job opening. Then they take the list and personally call the candidates. Clients love that they get the highly experienced personal touch of the company owners working on filling vacancies. 

“When it comes to potential candidates, you need the experience to make friends with them and get them to talk because they’re busy people and will just send you packing otherwise,” Wood said. “Also, if you find out they’re not the exact fit you’re looking for, my experience tells me that they’ll appreciate you just telling them immediately, rather than stringing them along. Then they don’t have to sit around for two weeks wondering what’s going on.”

Corps Consulting also has the luxury of not needing to answer to investors demanding constant growth, so Wood and Lake take on a lot of pro bono work for nonprofit military organizations and recently discharged veterans.

“Because of that, we’ve got some clients who tell us any time we find a veteran we think has all the attributes they’re looking for to send them over because they want to hire them,” Wood said.

Matt Scott

Audience Development Executive

Kansas City Business Journal