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September 07 Businessexcellence Ayres Associates 53 ownership that employees at all levels feel toward their work.” To help address the shortage of engineering graduates, Ayres Associates sponsors or participates in several educational events for middle and high school students to expose them to the engineering/architecture field and to the company. “We constantly need to find ways to set our firm apart from our competitors and become the employer of choice for those seeking employment,” he continues. ”To that end, we maintain a competitive benefits package that includes health care coverage, 401k, employee stock ownership program, and flexible work schedules.” These kinds of benefits are not uncommon today, of course. Most reputable employers have one or more of these in their armory, but Ayres Associates takes it a step further. The company provides all employees with opportunities for company-paid training, and because it has multi-disciplinary operations, employees can explore different technical specialties, adding to their job security and to the skill base within the workforce. With offices in different geographic regions, there are also opportunities to move to other parts of the country, although Quinn stresses that no employee is ever forced to relocate. Employees attend quarterly staff meetings, where they can ask questions and give feedback, and also participate in peer reviews conducted by executives from other engineering firms. There is recognition for individual attainment through regular awards based on effort and achievement. Executive vice president David Frick is in no doubt about Quinn’s contribution to these initiatives. “The company tries to maintain profitability for the benefit of shareholders, who are the employees. Pat is not the kind of person who’s after financial success for his own benefit. He puts in his effort and expects others to do the same and as such believes that the financial success of the company should be shared by all. “Pat doesn’t set himself apart from the staff,” continues Frick. “He has a hands-on, in-thetrenches type of approach. He runs the company more on a collaborative, not a dictatorial basis. When he has an idea, he seeks buy-in. He brings it to others and makes his case.” Another of Ayres’ objectives is to be recognized nationally by clients and competitors. Incorporated in 1959 by former B-24 bomber pilot Owen Ayres in Eau Claire in west-central Wisconsin, the company has grown from five employees engaged in general civil engineering to a multi-specialty professional services firm employing over 400 in 18 offices in eight states across the Southeast, Midwest, and West, specifically Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, California, Arizona, and Wyoming. The first expansion took place in Wisconsin in the 1970s through acquisition and new office openings across the state. Neighboring Minnesota then became another focal point for growth. In the 1980s Ayres Associates turned its attention to Florida, where the opening of a project office initially served as a base for a statewide project to study onsite wastewater treatment systems and their impact on the environment. This project led to others, and the firm now has six offices serving “The company markets all of its service lines throughout its geographic reach, which has resulted in the diversification of our services wherever we do business”

Businessexcellence September 07 54 Quinn, “which is already gaining a foothold in the Arizona transportation market.” This particular office opening followed an extensive nationwide study of transportation markets, which identified several states with potential for growth in transportation design. The company continues to look for opportunities to expand through acquisitions or office openings in all three of its geographic areas and in all service lines and marketplaces. Its various offices collaborate as a unified company of many specialists to find smart solutions to clients’ problems, says Quinn. “We bring a personal touch and responsive service. With an eye toward innovation, we are committed to providing our employees challenges and opportunities for success, while honoring our commitments to our clients and the communities in which we work.” Florida and Georgia. An opportunity for another major geographic expansion took place in 1994 with the acquisition of a water resources firm in Fort Collins, Colorado, which also brought a Sacramento, California, office into the fold. “The wellestablished water resources expertise in these offices complemented the firm’s existing water resources operations in the Midwest and opened new marketplaces to us,” says Quinn. “The company markets all of its service lines throughout its geographic reach, which has resulted in the diversification of our services wherever we do business.” Transportation and municipal engineering now represent a significant proportion of the company’s southeast operations and are growing in the West. “Our most recent expansion is the opening of our Phoenix office in 2006,” says Ayres Associates