2017 at The Wooten Company was a banner year with the help of newly recruited top talent, an invigorated dedication to client-relationships, and a much-needed focus on infrastructure across the country.
As we look back over the past 12 months, it feels like last week that our firm stormed into 2017 with more bookings and backlog than we can remember, but judging by what has been accomplished the company’s dedicated staff never batted an eye. From gaining footholds in new geographic markets to ushering in a new era of proactive asset management and even receiving awards for outstanding design work, the year has been a blur and we’re ever-grateful to share some of its highlights.
A Growing Family
Competition for talent in our industry is more intense than ever, and this means that the caliber of people who joined us this year is equally impressive. Many new faces were added to our team in 2017, and even several familiar ones returned from other endeavors. We are proud to say that this diverse and highly-qualified group brings education and experience from across the nation (and even overseas) to our clients as they provide for the health and welfare of their communities. In addition to new leadership in both Lester Lowe and Ed Reams who are leading our Site Civil Practice Group and Utility Coordination Teams, respectively, we welcomed more than a dozen others to the Wooten Family.
Tackling New Challenges for New Clients
The Strategic Plan Update that began in 2014 prescribed some very aggressive goals for the company to achieve. Not the least of which was an expansion into South Carolina to offer our expertise in water and sewer infrastructure. Thanks to the commitment of Regional Manager Chad Easter and the trust of devoted community leaders, we began working on projects throughout the State and are delighted to say that 2017 was a terrific success.
On top of this excitement, each of our Regional Offices and both Departments have been equally tireless, deepening our relationships with existing customers and building trust with new ones. All told the company began work on projects for more than 20 new clients in 2017.
Keeping up with the Changes
At both the State and Federal level, 2017 was full of twists and turns in legislature, keeping our resident policy watchers hard at work. And although there are always some areas where work needs to be done, there are also plenty of opportunities to celebrate.
It has been a productive year for many local governments in regards to asset management and investing in proactive maintenance with the help of Asset Inventory and Assessment funds from NCDEQ. Our teams put in countless hours assisting with applications for these grants, and this year those teams began working on plans for over a dozen communities - many of which are now in the implementation phase of adopting Wooten Technologies’ AMOS software (as a side note, look for big news on this front early in 2018).
The momentum behind the healthy and happy cities trend also barreled forward in 2017, and with the help of new Site Civil Practice Manager Lester Lowe, the company has been helping carry this torch for many of our clients. Lester brings to the firm a career in designing the parks, trails and community amenities that support this vision and his team is working hard to promote and develop assets that our friends and neighbors can be proud to have in their backyards.
NCDOT experienced some radical changes, and under the leadership of Secretary Jim Trogdon and COO Bobby Lewis, the amount of let contracts doubled in 2017. This means that right-of-ways need to be acquired and existing water, sewer, gas and telecommunications infrastructure relocated to allow for road improvements and aging bridge replacements. Under the leadership of Utility Coordination Manager Ed Reams, we are positioned to help our clients and other engineering firms with these difficult utility relocation and coordination efforts.
Of course happy and healthy citizens also need to pay the bills, and just this week Governor Cooper announced a landmark occasion introducing the first client of the Kingsboro Megasite in Edgecombe County. Triangle Tyre, a Chinese tire manufacturer, will build their first manufacturing facility in the U.S. bringing more than 800 jobs and over $2.4 billion in economic impact to the State’s economy. As the engineering firm selected to provide water and sewer infrastructure to this new industrial park, we couldn’t be more proud of our involvement with such an impactful project. This was not the only jobs-related announcement this year either, as Billie Hansen will attest, and because we are fortunate to live in one of the most desirable parts of the country, every department and office of the company has rolled up their sleeves in the planning and design efforts associated with economic development.
With clients aggressively investing in new growth-related infrastructure, regular repair and maintenance, and preventative planning for the future, it would be easy to assume that our teams couldn’t handle much more, but 2017 also revolved around one more challenge: cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew. Matthew may have devastated the Southeast U.S. almost a year and a half ago, but the storm targeted some of the company’s longest standing clients and our dedicated staff put in whatever time it took this year to help get them back on their feet. It is our commitment as a profession to care and look out for the public welfare and we know that clients depend on us for that. We are grateful to be in a position to help.
So during this joyous time of year, we would like to give thanks to our employees, our clients, and our partners for their shared devotion, and we wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year.