The “urge” to start a company came from my upbringing. You see, I am from Wyoming. I grew up knowing that if I wanted something, it would require work. I was blessed with wonderful parents who talked around the dinner table, using words that required a dictionary. My father was an engineer. He was a huge influence in my life. He was a gentle man and a gentleman. He had worked in many capacities. He could draft and design better than an architect and could build and fix anything. He served in WWII and had a strong sense of himself. He was slow to anger, patient and caring. He was my mentor.
I did not start out wanting to be an engineer. I went to a liberal arts college, Whitman College in Walla Walla Wa. I was studying to be a medical doctor. I have always loved science. My junior year in Durham England changed all that. I realized that the world was a wonderful place, with so many things to see and do. I decided that spending all that time in medical school was not going to fulfill my desire to see the world. Since my sister (brilliant lady) got her masters in German literature then went on to get an engineering degree, that maybe it would be faster if I became an engineer...then I would have a career and I could TRAVEL!!!
I persevered through the University of Washington’s Civil Engineering program. I was an older student with a solid liberal arts background. It served me well. I was mentored by a lovely professor after he watched me ace my class presentation. To date, he assures me, I was the best. I can break down technical information into clear components for the lay person. I don’t get trapped in details and I focus on the end goal. I am a natural leader.
So what is the essence of a leader? You have to be positive, proactive, prepared and pursue your goals. Even when times were tough in my business, I never let it show that I was nervous. I kept saying and “knowing” that it would all work out. I have a dynamic personality with loads of passion and conviction. I also hired great people and appreciated them. I established the vision and tone and let people do what they did best. I am fortunate to have met some of the most talented people in both construction and engineering. A sense of humor does help as well!
I am grateful to my office manager Ji Kim, for her diligence and devotion. Don Cuffel made complex projects work and managers happy to see his face. I worked hard to keep us out of trouble, pay for pensions and know what work was “good work”. As a fearless warrior, I have had to mediate, litigate and arbitrate. To date, I never lost a battle and our companies record is sterling (actually 24 karat). There comes a time a place for change, and that’s what I have done.
I now live in Wyoming. I came back to my roots to raise my children and be closer to what my soul considers home. I love my profession, and would be happy to help clients solve complex issues and work towards a consensus. I am excellent at networking and have made alliances that help my clients. As an engineer, I am an outlier. My skill set was broaden by my training and my willing to take risks. I love to win...and also have a keen sense of when I am up against a losing proposition. As an owner of a company, I know the ins and outs of contracting, union labor, subcontractors and attorneys. My firm’s best year was 23 employees and 2.2 million in revenue. We had our skinny years as well. I am proud that I “ got out” at the top of my game. Life can through you some curve balls, and you have to be ready to catch them. After 23 years in business, I decided that my children and their surroundings were the most important.
Someone once told me “ Engineers are Minders, Finders and Grinders”. I could not exactly pin point what I was until I started SAI. I am a Finder...find work, find solutions, find the right people, find the best time to start or stop. I also like to grind a bit on complex problems. I hired an excellent “ Minder” of people...so I could do what I did best. You see, I have a heart of gold and a give quite a bit. But my kindness is not weakness. I don’t believe you work at a business to lose money. Documentation and early prevention (don’t take the contract if your gut gets too twisted up over it) helps to mitigate problems down the line. Stand by your people and your convictions. I loved what I did, and I am proud of it.
If I can help you find your way, I am happy to do so. I am a great business advisor as well as a knowledgable business owner. I was fortunate to love what I did and what I created. I did not do it alone. I had help all along the way.
If you could use some “Wyoming Wisdom”, please feel free to check out my resume and give me a call. The best number is my cell phone: 206-399-1591. I still get lots of calls on the business phone at the 425 number. Out here in the boonies, the wind sometimes makes me sound like a gerbil on that line, so I let it go to voice mail. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is nothing better than a successful business that challenges you....I wish you the best!