Living by the Little (Red) Yellow Book

The Little Yellow Book is a pocket-size 4″ x 6″ book that was written by Jim Howland with illustrations by CH2M HILL staff, Bob Wehnert, and cover by Bill Shrader in the early 1980s. The book then and today is “pages of homespun business maxims interspersed with a handful of wry cartoons.”

“The idea was to communicate the basic principles that the firm was built on: Do quality work. Keep faith with the client. Maintain high ethical standards. Hire good people and reward their efforts.”

Today, as in the past, the Little Yellow Book, translated into many languages, was required reading by 30,000+ employees and was shared with many of their clients. View The Little Yellow Book (PDF).

For the real old-timers, the original version of the Little Yellow Book was published by Jim Howland in February 1978 in the CH2M HILL print shop with a red cover. The first edition turned out to be popular, so a second edition was needed earlier than expected. Jim sent a request to the print shop (managed by Ron Modrell) to print some more Little Red Books as soon as possible. Ron responded that it would take a few days because the print shop was out of red cover stock. Jim asked what the print shop had a lot of. Ron said that there was a lot of bright yellow cover stock that nobody seemed to want to use. Being a bit frugal, Jim said to use the bright yellow, and the rest is history. View The Little Red Book (PDF).

“The book provides a living link with simple, old-fashion values that helped the company thrive in a rapidly changing world” as described by the Albany, Oregon, Democrat Herald and Bennett Hall of the Corvallis Gazette-Times on April 5, 2008. View the Newspaper Article.

Jim Howland, the last remaining Partner, passed away on August 28, 2008. View Jim’s Biography.