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Editor-In-Chief: Al Anderson
Feature Editors: Erin Clinch, Faith Ragan
Sponsored Content Editor: Tina Barni

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Degenkolb Engineers: 78 Years of Excellence

For 78 years, Degenkolb Engineers has been delivering excellence in structural engineering. The firm has sponsored SMPS SFBAC since before 2004, in part because the SMPS educational initiative matches their own drive to cultivate leaders. I recently had a chance to touch base with Laurie Lumish, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Degenkolb Engineers, and ask her a few questions about her firm.

Tell us about degenkolb and the firm's services.

Basically, Degenkolb is a structural engineering company …but we are so much more.  Every year we evolve. We deliver excellence not just in engineering, but also facilities consulting and business resiliency. Our interests are varied. We have people involved in tsunami design, educating the next generation of engineers, and working to develop a layman’s vernacular around resiliency. And then we design and deliver great projects in healthcare, education, manufacturing, and technology sectors.

How many years have you been in business?

78.

Could you tell us about some notable projects?

Degenkolb is involved in a number of “firsts” in engineering. A couple of recent examples:

CPMC Van Ness and Geary Campus

As a core member of the IPD team, Degenkolb designed the structural system for a new 730,000-square-foot, 12-story, acute care facility. This is the first application of wall dampers in the United States.  The team scheduled, quantified, analyzed, and documented the design in real time, reducing waste in the design and construction of Sutter’s largest hospital replacement project.

Ocosta Elementary School and Tsunami Evacuation Center

Degenkolb designed a nearly 35,000-square-foot school gymnasium addition that also doubles as a 2,000-person community evacuation center. 

Tell us about some of your firm events.

Every year, Degenkolb hosts an annual technical conference for employees. We present to each other details about projects and new tools. This year’s conference will include not just technical staff, but learning days for admin, marketing, and CAD staff. The “toy” shop at conference will include our new drone and non-destructive testing equipment.

What differentiates your firm in terms of approach, talent, tools, and values?

Every time you ask someone why they stay so long at Degenkolb, the inevitable answer is “the people.” That’s a hard thing to quantify. We carefully select our engineers; the interviews take hours. We just as carefully select our non-technical staff, with multiple rounds of interviews with different stakeholders. But, I think more importantly, after an employee enters our doors they are an investment. We invest in training and learning for the long-term. We don’t hire and fire based on projected work-load. Joining the firm means making a commitment to our levels of service, excellence, and expertise. 

We are currently investing in new services such as non-destructive testing, and prime design delivery, as well as geographic expansion. It gives our people room to grow and develop as professionals.  

What are some memorable or key smps events that your firm has been involved with?

I encourage my staff to get involved at the chapter level and participate, and not just attend programs. As a team we all really enjoy the Founder’s Awards, Holiday Parties, and PRC. I like PRC for my staff because I think it is a great learning experience. Holiday parties are great places to catch up with folks I don’t see all the time. And Degenkolb has always shown at Founder’s Awards; it gives us a chance to demonstrate all the hard work the marketing team puts into branding the firm.

About the Author

Tina Barni is the Marketing Manager for RHAA Landscape Architecture + Planning. She writes for the Shortlist and is on the SMPS SF Communications Committee. She can be reached at barni.tina@gmail.com.

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