The American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan (ACEC/M) recently presented its highest honor, the 2019 “Firm of the Year” award, to Fleis & VandenBrink, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The award was presented during the Annual Engineering & Surveying Excellence Gala held March 2 at the Sound Board at Motor City Casino in Detroit. This is the only award program that recognizes ACEC/M member firms for leadership in professional practice and community service. F&V won the large firm (more than 30 employees) award and RS Engineering, LLC, located in Lansing, won the small firm award.
Recognition is based on the firm’s contributions to the success of ACEC/M, its efforts to advance the engineering profession, and the firm’s efforts to improve the quality of life for Michigan communities.
“One of our goals at F&V has been to get our employees involved in organizations that help them grow in their careers and promote our industry,” said Paul R. Galdes, PE, Principal and president of F&V. “Winning Firm of the Year affirms that we are on the right track.
“We have many employees that are involved with ACEC as well as many other professional organizations. This involvement is an investment, but it has brought a great benefit to our firm.”
Larry Fleis, PE and Steve Vanden Brink, PE formed the company in 1993. F&V now has over 225 employees. The employee-owned multi-discplined civil engineering and architecture firm has become a one-stop shop for infrastructure planning, design and construction. F&V now has nine with offices throughout Michigan and Indiana.
Ronald W. Brenke, executive director for ACEC/M, said F&V stands out as a company that helps to advocate the consulting design profession, is actively involved in the success and growth of ACEC/M, and continually gives back to the community.
The firm also engages in a variety of activities to positively impact the engineering profession and ACEC/M.
Galdes serves on the ACEC/M Board of Director and is chair of the Michigan Infrastructure Conference Committee.
Fleis, F&V’s Chairman of the Board, is a former ACEC/M board member and currently chairs the Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) Coalition that provides advice and assistance to public and private owners on proper procedures for selecting design professionals. He has chaired the QBS Coalitiion since 2011. Other F&V staff are also involved with ACEC/M committees, for a combined total of 41 years of involvement.
F&V is active in various professional groups sharing expertise on a variety of subjects through presentations and written material. The firm strongly supports empowering their employees and provides continual professional development opportunities through training, education and participation in professional societies.
“I am so proud of our employees who get involved with ACEC and other community and professional organizations that work to improve our communities,” Galdes said. “Most of us got into engineering specifically to improve our communities so it is second nature that so many of our dedicated employees get involved outside their day-to-day job activities.”
Staff engagement in civic and community activities is not only encouraged by the firm, it is required in order to be considered as an Associate or Principal. F&V employees are heavily involved in the community through Adopt-A-Highway, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Toys for Tots, and 100,000 Thank Yous campaign, among others. Time and resources have also been donated to the Cedar Marina Project, the Manton Library and to Safe Water International Ministries
F&V also won the Firm of the Year award in 2010.
“We were a significantly smaller company when we won this award in 2010,” Galdes noted. “We’ve tried really hard to maintain the culture and values as we’ve grown, so winning again means we’re still doing things right.”
In addition to growth in staff, services and revenues, F&V has also experienced change and expansion in its leadership team.
Vanden Brink, the company’s vice-president and co-founder, left the firm in 2016 due to health issues and Fleis started his exit in 2017, moving to part-time. Galdes was named F&V president. Today Fleis is president and chairman of the Board of Directors for F&V Companies, Inc. F&V’s parent company. He also serves as president of F&V Construction and F&V Operations and Resources Management.
“It’s been a difficult transition, but many staff have stepped up and taken on additional leadership responsibilities,” Galdes said.