Daniel L. Churchward
President and Owner
Dan Churchward is the President and Founder of Kodiak Enterprises, Inc. Since 1972, Dan has been involved in complex fire investigations, safety inspections, and training. Most significantly, Dan was the chairperson of the NFPA 921 committee for twelve years, stepping down in 2009. His hard work, expertise, and dedication to the advancement of fire investigation is reflected throughout the various revisions of NFPA 921, offering investigators a practical and scientific guide for the proper execution of fire and explosion investigation. Dan obtained an Associate in Applied Science and Bachelor of Science from Purdue University.
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Richard J. Vicars
Vice President and General Manager
Senior Electrical and Failure Analysis Engineer
Richard Vicars, Vice President and General Manager of Kodiak, is an electrical engineer with design and failure analysis experience in commercial, consumer, aerospace, and medical device industries. Rich's comprehensive private industry experience in actually designing and fielding products ranging from HVAC controls, to audiophile grade home theater equipment, to high reliability aerospace products, through life critical medical devices means that he not only understands the failures that occur in such products, but he also knows the engineering and manufacturing processes that broke down to create these problems in the first place.
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Ryan M. Cox
Senior Fire Expert
Ryan Cox started in 2003 after obtaining a B.S. in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology from Oklahoma State University and is currently the Senior Fire Investigator with Kodiak. He has investigated small to multi-‐million dollar fires throughout the United States, in 3 different countries, and has successfully testified in depositions and state and federal courts. Ryan is currently a principle member of the NFPA 1033 Committee and an alternate member of the NFPA 921 Committee. He also holds an adjunct faculty position with Eastern Kentucky University's Fire Investigation Program. Among other certifications, he carries the NAFI-‐CFEI, IAAI-‐CFI and NFPA-‐CFPS.
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Kevin M Hecksher
Kevin Hecksher, a recent electrical engineering graduate and new addition to our team, brings an in depth knowledge of both hardware and electrical systems to Kodiak. Kevin has extensive experience in automotive systems, engines, and related mechanical systems. He is also experienced in a wide variety of consumer appliances, ranging from countertop units through residential HVAC systems. He demonstrates a very strong mechanical aptitude that is essential to an effective root cause determination.
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James E. Small
Electrical and Failure Analysis Engineer
Jim Small is an Associate Electrical Engineer with Kodiak. Prior to his role with Kodiak, Jim was deeply involved in the worlds of both high volume residential and commercial electronic controls (HVAC, thermostat, appliances, ranges, microwave ovens, etc.). He is experienced in all aspects of electronic design from concept through production. He holds nine US patents, all related to the design of electronic controls. Jim has taught Six-‐Sigma/Lean courses extensively through Purdue Universities' Technical Assistance Program/Manufacturing Extension Partnership (TAP/MEP).
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Toni S. Blaettner
Senior Operations Consultant
Toni Blaettner, Six Sigma Master Black Belt, brings a wide array of effective world class continuous operation improvement skills to Kodiak. Not only is Toni a NAFI Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator, but she routinely works with our clients to fully develop and implement solid corrective action plans once the root cause of the fire or product trouble is identified. Toni effectively communicates at all levels within a corporation, helping our clients to not only improve their quality, but to also put measurable improvement on their bottom lines.
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Vicki E. Churchward
Vice President of Human Resources
Vicki E. Churchward, is the Vice President of Human Resources for Kodiak Enterprises, Inc. Aside from her duties managing the human resource responsibilities of a modern company, she oversees the Administrative Staff including the Office Administrator and her Administrative Assistant. She is the wife and business partner to Kodiak’s founder, Daniel L. Churchward.
Vicki has extensive experience in Human Resources, having served in that capacity at several manufacturing and service companies during her career. She retired from full-time employment as the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, a mobile communication company with facilities in several states and in the Caribbean.
Aside from her duties as the Human Resources V.P., Vicki takes on special assignments for Kodiak that require considerable time investment, specialized knowledge and patience in getting the assignment accomplished. Her efforts to fulfill the FAA requirements associated with Kodiak’s purchase of a corporate airplane earned her the recognition of having the aircraft named “Miss Vicki” in her honor.
Paul B. Panozzo, C.F.E.I.
Paul Panozzo, is the Laboratory Technician for Kodiak Enterprises, Inc. Paul is in charge of running exams in Kodiak’s Lab. Paul will assist outside parties who may rent out the lab, or assist Kodiak’s experts in testing.
Aside from Paul’s role as lab technician you may see him on scene exams or evidence exams acting as Kodiak’s Evidence Tech. His role on scenes is to collect evidence and document the scene through photographs and scene diagrams. Once the evidence has been harvested, Paul documents and keeps track of all evidence collected by Kodiak.
Paul is a Firefighter with Aboite Township Fire Department in Fort Wayne Indiana. He has conducted trainings and has been the President of the Board for the department.
Barb Luker, serves as the Administrative Assistant to the Office Manager, Sarah Winters. Barbara came to Kodiak in late 2012 bringing many years of administrative experience to the team and works closely with the Office Manager helping to maintain the smooth running of the office. Previous work experience has been in Jamaica, Nigeria and England with Shipping, Engineering and Management & Skills Training companies and with Centennial Wireless here in Fort Wayne, IN.
She is our first line of contact in the company, in her role as receptionist and will probably be the person who answers your telephone calls. She makes travel arrangements for the team which, given the travel needs of Kodiak, can be extensive. If you need information on the team’s travel schedules or need help coordinating your travel to Kodiak, please contact Barbara.
Fun Facts: Barbara got her delightful British accent from her experiences working around the world. When she and her husband left Jamaica they went by banana boat freighter from Montego Bay to London and when they left Nigeria for the last time they drove across the Sahara Desert through Europe before returning to England.