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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Alicia Hughes


W.S. Nielsen Co., Inc.

Location: Alpharetta, Georgia

Founded: 1980

Industry: Specialty Contractor - Construction

Alicia Hughes joined W.S. Nielsen Company in 2006 at age 23, with little construction industry experience but with natural leadership, a solid work ethic and a “get ‘er done” attitude, the company said.

Hughes started as an administrative assistant with the specialty contractor company. In 2015, she was promoted to operations manager, and eventually she worked her way up to her role today as president. She arrives at her desk by 5:30 a.m. each day and is often the last one to leave, the company said. Under Hughes’ leadership, the company has seen 200% revenue growth, bringing W.S. Nielsen to a $25 million business.

“I believe communication is key, having all players at the table for collaboration on the solution brings everyone’s differences to the same space,” Hughes said. “Understanding the emotional intelligence of each person in the room can affect how you decide to tackle the problem.”

Hughes manages and directs construction teams ranging from 14 to 25 employees, working first, second and third shifts. She books their travel, accommodations and logistics and looks after employee welfare and all the rental equipment needed for construction projects, from scaffolding to cranes. At the same time, Hughes is leading the company’s growth and expansion.

“In this industry, skilled labor tends to be high turnover. Not at W.S. Nielsen,” the company said. “Everyone loves working for Alicia, and some of the guys have been on board throughout Alicia’s 12 years’ tenure. When it comes to large-scale projects, Alicia is responsible for managing the workflow for WSN’s many clients, including the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Her diligence, ability to communicate on many levels, and build relationships helped create multiple repeat projects, including renovation work and new construction opportunities with values in excess of $5 million at the world’s busiest airport.”

Hughes also oversaw the company’s move in 2018 from a 5,000-square-foot space to a 14,000-square-foot facility.

Hughes was named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 under 40 list for 2022. She engages in high school-level construction departments in multiple counties and strives to speak to each of the classes about opportunities in the construction industry.

In 2013, Hughes became the head administrator for Rotary Club of Roswell, facilitating multiple charitable functions and events, including Honor Air. Honor Air honors America’s veterans by providing them with a free day trip to visit memorials in Washington, D.C. For 10 years, Hughes has been heading up the program, handling communication with each veteran, scheduling charter flights from Atlanta to Washington and coordinating volunteers, police escorts and meals. She has helped more than 800 veterans make the journey by raising charitable donations in excess of $750,000.

She also manages a program called Patriot Flight, taking 80 local first responders on trips to New York City to visit the 9/11 memorial.

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Did you know?

Alicia and her husband started a U.S. Naval Seacadet unit in 2020 in the Forsyth County area with 6 cadets and they are now the fastest growing and largest unit in the southeast.


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