June 17, 2015—Lakhbir Singh, the just-retired chief executive officer of Nathan Associates, said “quality and attention to detail” will ensure that the 69-year-old firm passes the century mark.
“This is a great company that will continue to grow and prosper,” he said yesterday at a reception honoring his 39 years of service to Nathan Associates. He stepped down in April as CEO, succeeded by Susan B. Chodakewitz, an accomplished executive who joined the firm from Tetra Tech Inc.
Dr. Singh made no apologies for his meticulous approach to numbers, which he applied to economic analysis starting as a research assistant with the firm, to training of junior economists as he advanced, and to managing the expansion of Nathan Associates along with maintaining its financial strength. As he said in an earlier conversation: “Once the quality is there and the value is there, there’s no question the client will call you back.”
Current and former employees honored Dr. Singh’s commitment, writing their personal tributes in a book presented to him, praising his mentorship, support, and willingness to help. “We were quite a team,” wrote Nathan Chairman John C. Beyer, who in an earlier conversation praised Dr. Singh for his selfless dedication to the firm and enthusiasm for difficult tasks. Teasing, Dr. Beyer added in the note, “I never could figure out your system of interlocking [data] tables.”
Dr. Singh joined Nathan Associates in 1976 as a research assistant while working on his doctorate at Howard University. He married in 1978, and the hospitality extended to the newlyweds by company founder Robert R. Nathan is one reason Dr. Singh viewed the firm as his “second family.”
“There has not been a day in the past 39 years that I did not want to come to work,” he said. He spoke with admiration of client law firms that have existed for 100 years or more, and said he is optimistic Nathan Associates will still be around in 2046.
Dr. Singh has a full slate of retirement activities planned including much charity work, through established outlets such as hospitals, and through his family’s Lakan Foundation, named for a blending of the initial letters of his first name and those of his wife, Kanwaltjeet. “We cannot quit,” he said, expressing his characteristic tenacity. “We cannot retire from life.”