Last week, DCI Engineers hosted a 30th anniversary celebration called “DCI Connect” with about 500 clients and guests from the A/E/C industries at the Embassy Suites in Seattle. Festivities took place in the King Street Ballroom & Perch, where attendees got a recap of how the founders of the firm prevailed during the early years of uncertain business momentum. DCI’s success story is based on leadership connections throughout the community and the firm’s history with the city.
Actually, that’s not entirely true.
Having built a consulting engineering firm from the ground up, it’s impossible not to reflect on all the small decisions and remarkable moments that have forged the path through the last 30 years; and it’s with an incredible amount of respect for one another that Mark and Guy have built a relationship—and a company—founded definitively on trust.
It was the early ‘90s when, with about 15 people on staff and an industry struggling to pull itself out of a slump, a fairly new DCI Engineers had just two weeks of billable work on the books.
Mark’s house was “mortgaged to the hilt.”
Debt was piling up.
And Mark and Guy were loaning out who they could, at a time when that was possible, to the competition so their engineers could continue earning a paycheck – even if it wasn’t from them.
The deck was stacked against them, and it wasn’t long until Mark and Guy were sitting across the table from a company offering them an out that would take care of DCI’s debt and double their personal salaries.
All they had to do was sign.
“We’re in this room with this attorney,” Mark says, “and it’s storming out and he’s talking about how they’ll organize and bring in all these entities to form a mega company. We’re saying, ‘We were told we’ll be on the board,’ and he says, ‘Well, I can’t make any promises…’
“And it was just one thing after another and at some point, there was a lightning bolt or the wind shook the building, or something,” Mark tries to recall, leaning back in his office chair these 25+ years later, “And Guy and I just look at each other and we say, ‘No. We’re not going to do this.’
“And we got up, told them we’re done, and said, ‘You can leave now.’”
Despite what appeared to be a quick solution to their immediate problems, Mark and Guy trusted what they had built, they trusted each other, and they trusted that work would come.
And it did.
Less than three weeks later, DCI had several industrial projects lined up that were immediately billable, they were eventually able to renegotiate their line of credit; and not only did they call those loaned engineers back, they were hiring.
Ever since, DCI has approached each fork in the road with this same gut instinct, from bringing on shareholders to moving into new markets, ultimately going from a portfolio of one-level houses and pedestrian paths to the tallest concrete residential building west of the Mississippi.
DCI Engineers is transforming the urban landscape; and thanks to dedicated leadership and an enthusiastic team of over 300 engineers and support staff, we will continue to transform, ourselves, as well.
Here’s to 30 years of providing Service, Innovation & Value.
And the next 30.
About the Author
Erin Spaulding, Communications Specialist / Erin comes from a journalism background with an emphasis in feature writing. She enjoys capturing the unique details of a story and is a firm believer that every person (and every project, for that matter) has a story to tell. Erin loves running, fly fishing and learning about unique spaces. Back in Michigan, she owns a little studio condo readapted from an asylum into a mixed-use residential building.