The hardest part of writing this was choosing a single thing to focus on. I have so much to be grateful for at FSi. As I look back on my career and the careers of my colleagues, one of the things that stands out is opportunity. I think it really stems from part of our Vision, Values, and Purpose statement that says, “We love what we do!”
My first boss (in California) once told me that if I wanted to be more than a junior engineer, I’d have to leave the company, because they would never see me as anything more than I was when I arrived. I did want to be more, so I took their advice and left. I took a job at FSi and found a whole different world.
When I joined FSi, I was a pretty inexperienced engineer, and had only worked on the hydronic HVAC and plumbing side for wineries and salad processing plants. I was never going to tell the boss, but I had to learn a ductilator and psychrometric chart on the job in my first few months at FSi to work on airside HVAC (don’t tell, it can be our secret).
Early on at FSi, I talked about how much I had enjoyed working in the world of wineries. The leadership team didn’t say, “We don’t do that.” Instead, they encouraged me to build that business. I was given a few hours a week to go learn how to market and now FSi has a large portfolio of wineries, breweries, distilleries, and other manufacturers with similar concerns and processes. I have enjoyed this work immensely because every project is different, and I love figuring out the oddball stuff. I also love to work on life safety, as it involves what engineers call “critical environments,” which the marketing folks here describe more as “things that explode, burst into flames, or might kill you.” I enjoy the precise calculations that keep everyone safe in those environments, and the wide variety of codes that get pulled in depending on specific industry. I particularly like walking the line with conflicting standards and environmental regulations, where technology gets really odd, and really fun.
When my partner got a once-in-a-lifetime job offer in Baltimore (to work on space telescopes), I figured my run with FSi was a good one, but had come to an end. Boy was I wrong! Fellow Principal Kevin Chadwick suggested we just give remote work a six month try and see what happened. Company founders Rob Danforth and Michael Eshelman agreed that I should give it a try, see how it worked, and keep that marketing time going on the other side of the country. As a result, I’ve moved across the country and had the opportunity to build relationships and a workable business where we had not been before, in a town that doesn’t brag about its environmental cred, but is way out front (including adopting the IgCC before almost any other jurisdiction in the country). Leadership went out on a limb to support me in my growth as an engineer, I continued to learn and contribute to the company, and eventually became a company Principal (Kevin beat me to it, but I count as the youngest in company history 😊).
It’s not just me, though. I’ve watched a number of junior engineers join us, follow their engineering passions, and join the leadership team and become company owners. That is probably the most satisfying part of mentoring my colleagues and encouraging them to dream big. We have people who focus their energies on sustainability, on utilities, on plumbing, on specific industries, on helping clients meet current and future code requirements…and that could keep going. We are a highly-cohesive team that is made up of a wide variety of skillsets and areas of focus. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find projects where we don’t have some level of experience and expertise. That means that not only are our people happy in their work, but our clients know that we can meet just about any oddball request they have. (Just ask Andy Langdon about creating a giant blue slushy/ice machine to help cool the air in a Boeing paint facility.)
I am grateful for FSi’s commitment to growing in new directions based on the passions of the people who work here. It’s like no other company I know. We truly do love what we do, because we get to do what we love.