I have worked in this amazing industry for over 30 years. I worked as a construction hand during college. I can’t express how valuable that has been to me as an engineer. It provided me the real world education required to provide a design that can be engineered as well as built.
From day one, it has been a journey, which for the most part, I have enjoyed. The one thing that I have not enjoyed is where we have allowed this industry to go. When I started in the business, consulting engineering firms were truly consultants. Clients hired us for our opinions and expertise, and for the most part, they valued that. While fees were always an issue, qualifications were of primary importance. Today, the first question a lot of clients ask is ‘How much?’ Our industry has taken a road where cost is the defining issue. While that is important, everyone has a budget, I believe a firm should be qualified based on something other than that. And from our side, while profit is important, client satisfaction and public safety should be the driving forces. I can’t tell you the number of times that a company, later to become a client, has awarded a project to another engineering firm because their price was low. They later found out that cheap engineering usually means omission of many construction details that can result in costly contract extensions and change orders.
I have clients in all sorts of businesses. I take, and have taken, projects as small as residential structural inspections to multi-million dollar office buildings and manufacturing facilities. In each instance, I have tried to instill in my employees that client satisfaction and public safety are the important things. I had a client tell me one day, after a project riddled with changes and time delays, that he “appreciated how I stuck with it until the end and completed it”. My response was simple, “What else were you expecting? I accepted the project from start to finish, not until it became difficult or aggravating.” Sadly he said “A lot of guys would have walked away.” Well, I guess I am not built that way and am glad for that.
I strive to put my client’s needs in the forefront. My belief is that the firm is here to take the burden off of them so they can have a successful project. If clients are satisfied, the firm will be successful. Today, the firm’s project base is approximately 95% returning clients. I guess we are doing something right.