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Industry Pioneer Dave Zulawski Announces His Retirement

Wicklander-Zulawski continues to serve as a foundational standard for professionals across the loss prevention industry.

A long-time mentor, innovator, and thought leader across the industry, David E. Zulawski, CFI, CFE has announced his retirement effective January 31, 2021.

Doug and Dave

Zulawski, along with Douglas E. Wicklander, CFI, cofounded Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates (WZ) in May 1982. Over the last several decades, he has helped change the landscape of interviewing by advocating a non-confrontational approach, training thousands of investigators, and shaping the careers of many for years to come.

Dave began his career after graduating from Knox College, spending two years with the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad as a Special Agent primarily investigating thefts from interstate shipments in northern Illinois. He then accepted a police officer position with the Barrington, Illinois Police Department. During his career, Dave has personally conducted more than 10,000 interviews and polygraph examinations. Zulawski has assisted on cold cases and consulted with investigators across the nation. He served as an expert witness in multiple cases and his opinion is routinely sought by investigators and the legal community.

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Dave also contributed to the industry through various publications, including his co-authorship of the text Practical Aspects of Interview and Interrogation, 2nd Edition, with Douglas E. Wicklander, CFI. In addition to the textbook, he has contributed chapters on interviewing and interrogation for multiple publications. Zulawski, with Shane Sturman, has also contributed an ongoing column on the topic of investigations and interviewing for LP Magazine. These educational columns will continue as Dave Thompson, CFI will join Shane to carry on the value set forth by Zulawski.

The impact of Dave’s many accomplishments and milestones on those around him is immeasurable. “I was fortunate to attend a WZ seminar with Dave and Doug in 1985 and their training had a huge positive impact on my career,” says Shane Sturman, CFI, president and CEO of WZ. “I was humbled when they asked me to join the firm in February 1994, and later to become a partner with a man I had looked up to for so many years and now consider a close friend.”

The many accolades earned by Dave include his acceptance into the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Ring of Excellence for his impact on the industry.

Dave took on many roles with WZ, primarily as a content developer and instructor. “Doug and Dave recognized there were better ways to identify the truth through non-confrontational means decades ago,” says Dave Thompson, CFI, partner at WZ. “Their willingness to challenge the ‘way it’s always been done’ has created an opportunity for investigators, including myself, to change the landscape of investigative interviewing for years to come. I’m honored to be able to continue this trend and fulfill the legacy that they have created as Dave enjoys his well-deserved retirement.”

As a co-founder of the International Association of Interviewers (IAI), Dave served as chairman of the Advisory Board. His role as chairman will be assumed by Wayne Hoover, CFI, senior partner at WZ. Taking a closer look at Dave’s contribution to the industry, Hoover shares, “Dave was involved with creating the WZ Non-Confrontational Method, the International Association of Interviewers, and the CFI designation; to name just a few things he has accomplished. Dave is the person you would consult to get a different look at an investigation. He’s had so many contributions to the industry (and me) that there is no way we can list them all here. Personally, I am going to miss him in the office as well as the industry. I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

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“Being retired is going to be very different for me,” says Zulawski. “Working with close friends is something I am going to very much miss. There have been so many people who helped make WZ a success that I couldn’t even begin to name them all. But I want everyone to know that all the kindnesses we have been shown over the years was truly appreciated. I am leaving WZ in very good hands.”

The team at WZ is saddened by Zulawski’s retirement, but excited for his next chapter and the ability to spend more time with his family. His presence and footprint on the WZ organization is the foundation of its success and 38-year history. The relationships built with clients across the globe and the sustained impact of WZ’s training are directly correlated to Dave’s work ethic and passion for the industry. Although his retirement is just beginning, the legacy that David Zulawski has created will carry on for generations of interviewers to come.

“Interviewing the Gurus of Interviewing” November 2006

To read more about the founding of Wicklander-Zulawski, read LPM’s 2006 interview with the two principals, “Interviewing the Gurus of Interviewing.”

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