Ben Gries took over the reins at Kerr-Greulich as President in January of 2017. With a year under his belt leading the now 35-year old company, Ben took a little time away from his busy schedule to answer some questions about the industry and his mentor and colleague, Don Greulich.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in the engineering industry right now?
A: The biggest challenge we face is finding experienced engineers and designers. Demand for MEP engineering services is high and experienced people are hard to find. We’ve been hiring interns and graduates to help supplement our talent needs, but experienced people are always needed.
Q: What is the most important part of an engineering project?
A: Communication. We find that communication is the key to a good project. Good communication between the owner, architect, and engineer helps everyone understand the expectations for the project and allows the design professionals to deliver a building that meets the owners need.
Communication also extends to the construction process. Good communication with the contractors ensures the owner’s expectations are met and questions that arise during construction are answered quickly. The more collaborative a project, between all parties, the better the end result.
Q: What’s been your smartest business move?
A: The best thing we’ve done as a company is include technology in our business. We’ve always been on the forefront of drafting and engineering software, constantly looking for new and improved ways to complete our projects.
In the last several years, we’ve really concentrated on improving the way we do business and the technology we use to do that. The current software and database we use provides useful information for running and operating our business. It allows us to make data-backed decisions and allocate appropriate resources on projects. We believe incorporating technology into the business will help us grow and become even more efficient.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: The best advice I’ve ever received came from Annie Anguiera, who was a project manager at WKU. When I graduated, she said “Come see me when you want to get a job.”
I spent about a month enjoying the freedom of being away from school and then called Annie. She said there is one person that I needed to work for, Don Greulich at Kerr-Greulich Engineers. Annie said he was the best engineer that she has ever met, and that I would learn a lot if I worked for him.
I started working for Kerr-Greulich about a month later and I found out that Annie was right. Don Greulich has provided me the best mentoring, teaching, and experience that has far exceeded any expectations that I had.