Forty big ones

Florida multidiscipline firm Kisinger Campo and Associates, with four decades under its belt, knows how to treat clients and employees.

By Liisa Andreassen
Correspondent

Kisinger Campo and Associates (Tampa, FL), a multidisciplinary engineering firm of more than 220 employees, is setting up to enter its next decade, but before it does, its celebrating its achievements. Its strategy is to build upon proven past experience through the application of innovative technologies while maintaining sensitivity to the environment and integrating principles of sustainable development.

“We are committed to sharing our expertise and talent for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life for future generations,” CEO Stephen McGucken says. “We promise to promote our diverse close-knit workplace, commit our resources and talent to the local community, and preserve our long-standing client relationships.”

It was in 1975 that Joaquin Campo first had a vision to provide high-quality engineering services to a variety of clients throughout Florida. In 1976, that vision quickly became a reality and for the past 40 years, it’s persevered through good times and bad.

A little history. Campo passed away in 2015, but key players, including co-founder Ed Burkett, continued to move the company forward. Today, KCA offers a lot of latitude to its employees to pursue work and offers them the support to be successful. The principals and managers of the firm stress the need to provide quality services, be responsive to the client’s needs, and to be ethical in their profession.

“We promote rewarding staff for a job well done and regularly have fun functions for employees to say thank you. We are not constrained by a rigid corporate structure, which creates a more relaxed work environment,” McGucken says.

Perks-a-plenty! KCA offers many of the more usual benefits – full medical, dental, life, long and short term disability, and 401(k) plans – but they also provide a variety of others that include wellness plans, such as quit smoking and weight loss programs, and contribute to employee gym memberships. They encourage and participate in employee jogging groups, local charity runs, and sporting activities, too.

Along with annual picnics, fishing trips, and holiday celebrations, KCA also rewards employees for performance in a variety of ways, including activities such as golf outings, departmental luncheons, and professional football/baseball games.

KCA participates in the employee education at 100 percent for an A grade with stepped reductions in participation based on grade. In addition, they pay 100 percent for specific training needed for all positions.

And, there’s more:

  • Breakfast snacks once a week and monthly lunches
  • Cakes to celebrate anniversaries and brownies for afternoon snacks
  • Cash tenure rewards for employees for every five years of service that increase for each five years.
  • Support for employee charities of choice
  • Sponsored staff attending missions on a regular basis
  • An annual putt-putt tournament in the office
  • Celebration of awesomeness (as needed!)
  • Ongoing staff training (e.g., this past summer they had a three-day training on using Microstation for 3-D modeling of highways)

Despite all these perks and benefits, Colleen Carter, vice president/director of human resources, says that recruiting can still be a challenge.

“There was a time several years ago when recruitment of any position was not difficult at all. When KCA would post a position, we had multiple qualified applicants along with employee referrals. In more recent years, recruitment has become more of a challenge, wherein we rely heavily on employee referrals to hire quality staff. We are fortunate that a high percentage of our staff is based on employee referrals,” she says.

KCA has also been very successful with their internship programs. Many are hired full-time upon graduation. They also have many engineers that are active in mentoring programs and participate in college engineering job fairs.

What are employees saying? Tim Heath, area manager/project administrator, has worked for KCA for more than 30 years.

“I’ve always felt like I’m part of a family and not just an employee. We’ve all gone through both good and not so good times, but we have always come through by supporting each other,” he says.

Ashley Abdel-Hadi, environmental scientist, says that he most enjoys the constant opportunity to learn and be challenged by the diverse array of company projects. This is supplemented by the inclination of project managers to train and further the development of less experienced staff.

Abe Senerchia, GIS technician, most enjoys the small-business, family-type atmosphere.

“I can chat with the CEO while getting coffee, or with the president while walking down the hall,” Senerchia says. “The CFO knows my name, and I can crack jokes with the head of IT or HR. Having spent a little time working with a large company, where employees seem to be treated merely as a profit center with an ID number, I really value the relationships that are cultivated here.”

Keys to success. KCA has the staff and expertise to compete with the larger firms. The managers, staff, and marketing department work hard on project pursuits. They do their homework and research and they involve the whole pursuit team in developing solutions and innovation.

“We spend a lot of time on strategy to determine what is important and what cannot be overlooked. We spend a lot of time on practicing presentations, answering questions, and mentoring newer presenters. We know that winning  or losing a project can come down to the smallest detail mentioned or overlooked,” McGucken says.

In 1976, KCA was founded as an engineering consulting firm to serve the needs of their clients, both public agencies and private developers. The mainstays contributing to their early success include bridge inspection, civil engineering, CEI, and transportation planning and design.

“With the passing of each year, our successful accomplishments have sustained our steady growth into new business areas, from small local civil projects to large, long-term, multidisciplinary projects in public transportation,” McGucken adds. “KCA continues to expand throughout the southeastern United States while providing additional services in asset management, traffic analysis, environmental services, and design-build. The source of our continuing success is a dedicated and loyal staff with proven expertise.”

Party time! This past June, to celebrate 40 years of success, KCA held an anniversary celebration. Special panels were made that commemorated key milestones throughout KCA’s history and are now hung in the lobby for all to see.

“Our timeline of successful projects is extensive, and it’s truly inspiring to see all that we have accomplished in 40 years,” McGucken says.

In addition, a 40th anniversary book was made and given to dedicated employees that have been with the firm for more than 10 years. Their celebration day began in the morning with a staff brunch and gift bags. In the evening, they invited many clients and fellow consultants to a catered event in the office. Many stories were shared.