Westmont Magazine Building a Life in Illinois
When Bruce Alkire ’71 came to Westmont from Seattle on a baseball scholarship, he never expected to end up in Peoria, Ill. He moved there to wed his college sweetheart and fellow Westmont graduate, Pat Finch. His marriage brought him a new home and a new job as well as a new wife. He went to work for the family business, The Finch Companies, which include N.E. Finch Co, Peoria Metro Construction, and Peoria Barge Terminal. Today he serves as executive vice president.
In a recent InterBusiness Issue magazine feature, Bruce explains how he got started in the construction business, “The ink was barely dry on my diploma showing a degree in business administration when my father-in-law sent me to the south side of Peoria to the Operating Engineers’ Union Hall. When I finally found the building, I signed a few papers and was informed I was supposed to operate a cherrypicker that day.” He had no idea that a cherrypicker was a 15-ton crane. His first day he concentrated on just two instructions: “This is how you start it” and “Don’t tip it over.”
Bruce set out to learn as much as he could from father-in-law Lyle Finch, co-owner of The Finch Companies. When the founders of the company retired, Bruce became executive vice president of the business, just five years after his first day on a cherrypicker. He continues to help build the companies, which are involved with high-profile construction and demolition projects in central Illinois. He credits his involvement in baseball as a youth and at Westmont for developing his value of teamwork and his work ethic, and points out that his Christian upbringing and education “greatly influenced the way I developed as a person and ultimately, the way I would manage my role as an administrator or executive or chairman or board member.”
Bruce’s influence reaches far beyond the construction business. He is active in various social and civic organizations around Peoria. His motivation for such service is his thankfulness for his many blessings. “As we are blessed with time, talent and treasure, we should be willing — graciously — to give back a portion for the benefit of others.” He serves as chairman of the board of Easter Seals-UCP, and is a past member of the Salvation Army ARC board, Junior Achievement board, and Camp of Champions Advisory Board. Some of his greatest moments occur when he watches a child with crippling disabilities take a first step. “That true life image is really satisfying to those who have been involved in the rehabilitation process.”
Despite his success in business and his reputation as a public figure, Bruce is dedicated to following God’s plan. “Ultimate satisfaction for me is continually seeking God’s will for my life and staying within it.” He hopes to prepare a third generation to lead the Finch companies, a feat few families accomplish. Additionally, he plans to meet upcoming projects with expanded services, and continue to build a team of individuals who can maintain the firm’s standard of success. He adds, “I would like to continue helping The Finch Companies progressively meet the challenges of our industry and to remain active in community volunteerism, and I hope to be more involved with mentoring young people as they consider business as a vocation.”
Bruce feels thankful for his family, his employees, and his friends in Peoria. He concludes, “with the many various active Christian organizations in the Peoria area — Young Life, FCA, Youth for Christ, Salvation Army, a variety of camps and missions — I know I’ll never lack for an opportunity to serve God and the community now and in the future.”