MSU-UM Football Friday and Chili Take Over the Office

Four core principles guide our work at Fleis & VandenBrink:

  • Understand our customers and satisfy their needs;
  • Employ, value and empower good people;
  • Do what we say we are going to do; and …
  • Have fun!

We’re not kidding about that last one – especially on the Friday afternoon before the Michigan-Michigan State football game. That’s when we have our company-wide rivalry tailgate party. Employees and family members, whether they are MSU or U of M graduates or not, get together for a party featuring corn hole games and a chili cook-off.

There’ll be plenty of friendly competition in our office for sure on Friday as the appetizing aroma of chili in crock pots wafts through the first and second floors all decorated in maize and blue and green and white. When the chili is ready, we gather around and the party begins.

“It’s a whole family affair,” said Karen Grant, a marketing assistant in F&V’s Grand Rapids office. “It’s just fun to see everyone come together. And, obviously, there’s always a ton of good food and trick-or-treating for our kids.”

The tailgate party is one of our special events that hit on the “have fun” principle, one of our firm’s distinctive characteristics. We’ve also enjoyed holiday formats with spouses, summer picnics with families, an ugly sweater contest with trophies for the best entry (or is it the worst?) and we’ve even started a company kickball team.

To celebrate our firm’s anniversary, we have staff breakfasts where the bosses prepare and serve the food. Everybody pitches in, wears different hats and does what it takes to get the job done, reaffirming one of our culture statements that we, “all make the coffee.”

(The culture statement, too, ends with “have fun!”)

“As many hours as our people put in, we want them to enjoy their time here,” said Paul Galdes, vice president of the employee-owned, multi-discipline firm of nearly 200 people. “We also want them to have an opportunity to let their families see what they do, and to meet some of their peers.

“Our staff is the most important part of keeping our clients satisfied. If we want to have happy clients, we need to have happy staff.”

Civil engineers Larry Fleis (a big MSU alumni and host of a weekly tailgate) and Steve VandenBrink (a Michigan Tech grad) started F&V in 1993. The firm since has expanded across Michigan and into Indiana. Employees are alumni of many colleges and universities, and the firm’s roster of expertise includes engineers, architects, water resource specialists, landscape architects, geologists, environmental scientists, surveyors, GIS specialists, inspectors, field technicians, construction managers, professional emergency managers (PEMs), operations specialists and administrative support.

We’ve grown by one-third over the past two years, and we’re continuing to hire professionals in our nine offices: a senior civil engineer is needed in Farmington Hills, for example, and a project manager is sought in Grand Rapids.

Here’s a full list of current openings.

Interested in working and “having fun” with us? Come by our family-friendly, football-themed tailgate party on Friday, Oct. 28. We’ll introduce you to the staff and talk about our firm which was recognized this year as a  Zweig Group Hot Firm and named one of West Michigan’s “101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.”

You’ll see the experts who craft innovative solutions for clients and make a positive difference in the communities where they work. You’ll also enjoy some great chili and soups and have a lot of fun.