faces - freese and nichols, inc. brochure 2013... · faces of innovation innovation at freese and...

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Freese and Nichols is a firm built upon innovation. Weve been inventing and innovating since Freese and Nichols founder, Major John B. Hawley, pioneered municipal water solutions in the late 1800s. His work laid the foundation for infrastructure and processes we rely on today. Innovation remains a part of our work, in the new ideas and creative concepts implemented by our project teams to address unique project environments and overcome challenges.

Our Innovation Awards Program inspires teamwork, builds innovators, and recognizes project teams who have introduced, developed and delivered services and technical solutions. Since 2006 this internal awards program has encouraged solutions that exemplify our delivery of excellent

customer service. As an outcome, some of the best technical innovations are shared across our company.

Innovation is our commitment to clients and staff, an integral part of our culture, and our motivation to find more efficient and cost-effective ways to view projects. It is an honor to introduce you to the faces of innovation.

Robert F. Pence, P.E., BCEE President and CEO Freese and Nichols, Inc.


Innovation at Freese and Nichols is defined as implementing effective methods and ideas that improve or simplify existing tasks, processes, services or design. Innovation may also lead to the development of new services, products, technology or patents. Innovative thinking is an integral part of our continuous improvement journey.

Freese and Nichols continuous improvement journey follows a long but fruitful road that we embarked on 17 years ago. Weve had milestones like the 2007 Texas Award for Performance Excellence and 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and weve also had detours. Many of these were guided by embracing examiners feedback after each award application. Each feedback report allowed us to map areas for improvement and establish a path forward. The resulting journey has been transformative.

What we have found along the way is that the road to performance excellence can be achieved through many routes. As an outcome of our journey, weve had the opportunity to work with cities, independent school districts and other engineering firms to strengthen their organizations. Pursuing performance excellence based on the Baldrige criteria provides guidelines that, taken in whole or in part, can improve an organization and position it for the future. The path is yours to choose. Many organizations decide to apply for the Baldrige award, and others use the guidelines as a framework for improvement.

One organization were partnering with is the City of Fort Worth, Texas. The City is using a culture analysis tool that has helped their Planning and Development Department to be more client-focused. We have also held benchmarking sessions with the City on various topics, including performance management and professional development.

Thanks to Freese and Nichols, Fort Worth was able to transform its business processes for plan review and development, and we greatly improved service to our citizens and businesses, said Tom Higgins, City Manager for the City of Fort Worth. Their leadership is a remarkable asset to our city, especially as all municipalities work to maximize the use of resources in the face of difficult economic challenges.

We value the opportunity to serve as a resource as you pursue performance excellence. It is the reward of our initial commitment when we embarked on our continuous improvement journey: that we would give back to the clients who have supported us in our continued business success. Please let us know how we can serve you.

Emily Darrs journey to an engineering career began at North Carolina State University (NCSU) the summer before her senior year of high school. I attended a week-long engineering camp where we stayed on campus, learned about Best Management Practices (BMPs), completed field surveys and worked on an actual stormwater project, she said. This visit spurred her interest in engineering and led to an undergraduate degree at NCSU.

Now, with bachelors degree in hand, Emily is starting her professional career in our Raleigh, N.C., office. Shes already lent her expertise in BMPs during a two-month transition in Fort Worth, Texas, with our North Texas Stormwater Engineering Group. Working here provided a huge opportunity to meet staff and build relationships, work on a variety of projects and immerse myself in the Freese and Nichols culture, Emily said.

This story of opportunity is reminiscent of our newly opened Dallas office in the 1990s. Mike Wayts, P.E., CFM, began his career with us as a full-time intern in 1996 while studying at the University of Texas at Arlington. After graduation, he continued his professional career in our Dallas office, working on site development, municipal and stormwater engineering projects. The office grew from four people in 1996 to 60-plus professionals today.

Earlier this year, Mike headed to North Carolina to lead efforts in the Southeastern United States. I am very excited about this opportunity to experience a new place to live, meet new people and help grow our business, he said. Just as Freese and Nichols gave me an opportunity and training to become a leader in our company, I look to help the next generation develop those same attributes.

Our office on the NCSU campus in Raleigh connects us to the research and innovation that drives technical solutions at the core of our projects. With performance excellence and client service as driving factors, finding a home on campus signifies a two-way partnership for expanding our knowledge through research, technology and innovation, interacting first-hand with future engineers of the Southeast, and reaching out to the North Carolina Performance Excellence Program housed on campus.

I am thrilled to have Freese and Nichols on campus, said Morton Barlaz, Ph.D., P.E., Professor and Head of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at NCSU. They bring a wealth of experience and a sincere interest in finding ways to utilize university research to better serve their clients and society. I look forward to ongoing engagement with our faculty and students.

Our Journey to North Carolinaby Charles Archer

by Cindy Milrany, CPA


CINDy MIlRANy, CPA, is Chief Financial Officer of Freese and Nichols and leads our strategic planning and continuous improvement program. Her guidance and leadership contributed to Freese and Nichols successful pursuit of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. She guides and oversees our teams efforts to stay on the performance excellence journey and reapply for the Baldrige Award in 2016.

CHARlES ARCHER has an extensive background of municipal experience that includes Chief Operating Officer and lobbyist of the North Carolina league of Municipalities, Halifax County Manager and Director of Planning for the City of Roanoke Rapids. He joined the Freese and Nichols team in January 2013 as Account Manager for our Raleigh office.

Freese and Nichols office on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University

Freese and Nichols delegation at the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award ceremony on April 12, 2012

TECHNICAl WORkSHOPS Reaching out into the professional community, our Raleigh office hosts technical workshops each month on topics such as roadways, water, wastewater, stormwater and professional ethics. Spearheading this effort is leslie Meacham, who brings her experience in training state and local officials at UNC Chapel Hills School of Government. Course attendees earn professional development hours toward certification renewal and all proceeds are donated to the yMCA of the Triangle. For more information, contact leslie at 919-582-5859 or leslie.Meacham@freese.com.

View more resources about our continuous improvement journey

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As Freese and Nichols has grown, weve found that inspiring new employees with the importance of innovation, in our projects and in our everyday tasks, is an integral step in our continuous improvement journey.

Innovation serves as a starting point for all activities at Freese and Nichols, and our Inspired Innovation Committee connects, inspires and mobilizes employees. Over the past year, we have connected innovation to our cycle of Continuous Improvement and Quality Assurance reviews for projects. Moving forward, innovation will become an aspect of our client satisfaction surveys and application for the 2016 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

In 2012, in response to an idea submitted by an employee, we made Research & Development (R&D) funding available to our teams to advance their knowledge and expertise. The R&D Program allocates $50,000 each year for employees to develop their ideas into reality. Last year, three initiatives received funding: two projects aimed at sustainable practices in mixed-use development and municipal roadway design (see sidebar on facing page for more information) and one project dealing with total nitrogen removal in wastewater treatment plants. So far this year, two projects have received funding with additional funds still available.

Our corporate investment in R&D funding drives innovation by encouraging our professionals to provide unique solutions on projects and processes as we aim to be the firm of choice for clients and employees and stay at the forefront of innovative thinking.

by Barbara Nickerson

BARBARA NICKERSON is a Freese and Nichols Vice President, Principal and Environmental Science Group Manager. She is also the leader of our Inspired Innovation Comm


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