Introduction by Jacque Hinman
Recently, Gerald Vogt, a 30-year CH2M veteran and manager of projects for several clients in the Private Sector Major Accounts group, shared the below story with many of his colleagues, including me, that reflects on our company name. Gerald is in our Redding, California, office, and his story starts by referencing a particular building that housed our Redding office many years ago.
His story reflects on the building, its name and what the people in that building did together to make our world better. Knowing that we rightly take a lot of pride in our CH2M name and all we have accomplished for our clients and stakeholders, Gerald gives inspiring voice to the fulfilling experience we have had as colleagues united in common purpose. Gerald provides some good perspective to remind us how a name on a building—and even a particular address—may serve as identifiers, but what makes a brand great and enduring are the people and purpose behind it.
Gerald’s words helped me remember the CH2M brand is not only about what we do and how we do it. At its heart, it’s about the why—the purpose we serve at CH2M and the passion, experience, and creativity of the people who bring our purpose to life. For every year of this firm’s existence (and the predecessor firms that joined us), our people have chosen to collaborate; to innovate; and to communicate; and, most of all, to serve our stakeholders with distinction. They have chosen to do this in a manner that emphasizes excellence, integrity, community, respect, and compassion.
These choices—and how we continue to uphold them—create the ties that bind us to the brand we know and love. And it is these choices and our behaviors that will keep our brand alive. Gerald’s story reminded me of that, and I hope you’ll appreciate it as much as I did.
Jacque Hinman, CH2M Chairman and CEO
1525 Court Street. To some of you this address brings back memories, and others might remember it as a building across from the court house in Redding, California. 1525 Court Street was a unique structure—a catacomb of hallways, offices, landings, levels, and even an awesome orange tree in the parking lot. It was the home of Clair Hill and Associates and then home to CH2M HILL in Redding until 1990. It was the place where employee Fritz Carlson grilled me on Darcy’s Law (an equation that describes the flow of a fluid through a porous medium) on a Monday morning in September 1988 to determine if I was worthy to join his team of hydrogeologists.
It was the first place I had an office to call my own. I spent my first Christmas Eve there, coaxing the copiers to finish printing a large, three-volume report that had to get out to meet a client deadline.
1525 Court Street is set for demolition soon to make way for the new courthouse. In light of the recent news, I am struck by the symbolism of these seemingly unrelated events. Last night, as I was driving by that old building on Court Street and seeing the beginnings of its planned demolition, somehow, I had a feeling everything was going to be alright; and I felt a strong sense of hope for our future.
Our great company has a solid foundation that can be attributed, in part, to the efforts of the people who occupied 1525 Court Street and buildings like it across the world. That place had a soul, a connectivity to the people in it and to those we served outside of it. As we expanded and our footprint widened, that building could no longer sustain us; and we needed more space to grow and expand. So, we moved the life and soul of that structure (us!) to our current location at 2525 Airpark Drive.
Over time, we were able to successfully build our brand and extend our reach beyond our boundaries to all corners of the world where we could help our clients prosper.In time, as I drove past that old building on Court Street, I gradually lost touch with those memories of my early career and focused more on what was to come.
Driving by that structure and seeing the construction fence got me thinking about our company and about the news we heard that could potentially change our future. News that answered the concerns of the many remaining employees from 1525 Court Street who invested so much for our company to survive and thrive. News of a deal that promises to combine the incredible talent of two amazing companies—made that way because of the people.
Those same people can now unleash a collective energy and talent to help shape and reface a combined company for the future we can all appreciate and help benefit our world going forward. Buildings don’t prosper; it’s the people inside those buildings who make a difference. A building gone with a new one in its place. The name of a company gone but the will and soul of the company survive.
Are we sad or grieving over the loss of our identity? Absolutely! Especially for those of us in Redding, first removing “HILL” from our name and now this. Separation is hard. Demolition is irrevocable. Ah, but in the angst of separation and the dust of demolition comes a path that is fresh and new, that conjures excitement and possibilities and opportunity and hope. In our industry, people working together are the key ingredient to making companies prosper; and prosper we will.
I’m all in, how about you?