Otto didn’t much care for trite statements such as “a company is only as good as the people working there.” But for him, it was that way with CH2M HILL. In fact, from a 1964 immigrant’s view, he wanted to enhance the phrase by substituting “country” for “company.” Otto expressed deep appreciation when he recalled moving from Chicago to Vancouver with his 1-year old son, Mark, and soon-expecting wife to find a pre-rented house full of flowers and a smiling Gordon Elliott, “my great first boss.” Shortly thereafter, the wives of his new colleagues took turns helping around the house after his daughter’s birth. To top it off, when Soviet tanks crushed the freedom movement in his old country, Czechoslovakia, in August 1968, causing, among other things, an exodus of educated people, he got a call from Fred Merryfield offering a job to any Czechoslovak engineer he might recommend. Actually, one fellow took him up on this generous gesture.
Otto had many more stories but will leave it to these to illustrate that, for him, the CH2M HILL experience was also the American experience. It’s a realization that values such as decency, respect, integrity, trust, and openness are as important in the professional life as they are in the personal conduct. In the long run, the nice guys win.
For Otto, the CH2M HILL experience was also the American experience; a realization that professional values such as decency, respect, integrity, trust, and openness are important.