by Alison Bailey | Photos courtesy of KPFF
KPFF is a civil and structural engineering firm founded in Seattle in 1960 that now has offices dotting the west coast and employs over 1,200 people. The Thurston County branch is a tight-knit 32-person office based in Lacey.
“We’re unique in that we are a large firm, but we’re locally managed and owned, so we’re able to make all the key decisions that need to be made for the business,” explains Mark Steepy, principal owner of KPFF’s Lacey branch.
Mark’s team specializes in civil engineering, surveying and the environmental permitting required to support their clients’ projects. They work with private developers, contractors and architects around the state, but 70% of their revenue comes from public agencies. “Our biggest client is the state of Washington,” Mark says.
Currently, one of their largest projects is a new facility for the Washington State Department of Transportation. The department is located in Tumwater, but this summer they’ll relocate to a new building in Hawk’s Prairie that Mark and his team have been working on since 2019.
The team at KPFF has also been busy with renovations and infrastructure upgrades on the Capitol Campus, among many other projects around the state. One of their most memorable projects was the historical restoration of the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Ocean Shores.
Mark’s team is made up of associates, project managers, design engineers, AutoCAD (computer-aided design software) technicians and administrative staff. He emphasizes that the lines between these roles aren’t always distinct. They move depending on the project, and if the project is small, one person could take on all of those roles. It’s a culture that values collaboration while empowering the individual to excel.
“The most important things to us are our staff and our clients,” Mark explains. “If we have happy staff and happy clients, we feel that everything else falls into place.” What’s the best way to ensure his team is happy? Encourage them to do work that they are passionate about and uniquely skilled to do.
Three years ago, the Lacey KPFF office did not design or construct fish passages. Since then they’ve hired individuals who had experience in this area and wanted to start seeking out these types of vital conservation projects. “Because we had a couple of people that wanted to do it and had the experience to do it well, we supported them in marketing that expertise,” Mark explains. “It’s been very successful.”
“We are a family-oriented company. Aside from the work we’re engaged in with clients, we focus on each staff’s family and what their needs are,” Mark explains, “It makes all of us really tight-knit.”
From a mental health standpoint, the pandemic had an impact on his team. Losing that daily office culture was a challenge, but they’ve built new ways to connect as the months have worn on. New standards around remote work and hybrid options have allowed Mark and his team to strike a new work-life balance that strongly aligns with their values.
Our local KPFF office is a valuable team of hard-working engineers bringing expertise and a positive attitude to building projects of all kinds in Thurston County, Washington State and beyond!