This month, a respected member of the LDG family will retire after spending 41 years with the company. Kurt Hetrick, Senior Project Designer in our Williamsport headquarters, has been with LDG since it was known as Robert W. Ferrell Engineering and Surveying, and as Hunt Engineers. He has served as a member of the LDG board and as an ESOP Trustee, worked and had leadership responsibilities in several departments (surveying, municipal, highway, and site included), and even met his wife at LDG.
The impact Kurt has had on Larson Design Group is immeasurable. While his quiet wisdom and placid demeanor will be missed, this is a retirement well earned, and we wish him the best.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your career?
To keep satisfied clients, listen more than you talk. And really understand their needs. Generally, they’re in their worlds 24/7, and you’re just a visitor. So, they know as much or more about what’s going on as we do.
What advice would you give to someone struggling to maintain a work/life balance?
Schedule your work. Make priorities. And generally, you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed. By scheduling, you may work 10 hours one day, but then you have the opportunity to work 6 or 7 hours the following day and go to that baseball game or coach that baseball team.
What was the proudest moment of your career?
I think when the employees got together and bought the company. That was quite the accomplishment.
What do you think is the most important trait for success in engineering?
It goes back to understanding the clients’ needs, and then conveying that to contractors on paper and by specifications. I think it’s very important to have that extra set of eyes do that QA/QC, because the PM gets so familiar it all looks good to him.
What advice would you give to people who hope to follow a career path similar to yours?
Get a good education. Try to position yourself to be working with a good project manager, one that likes to listen and teach. And then get that experience in the field.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at LDG?
I think one of the most memorable projects I participated in was the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, PA. We basically did all the up-front work. We didn’t actually design the center itself, but we did a lot of leg work. I had a chance to witness how the elk herd is managed in PA. I didn’t realize what a tourist attraction that part of PA is. I was able to witness the fact that a major player in this center bowed out at the midnight hour, and how the people of PA pulled together and still made it happen.
What do you hope is your legacy with LDG?
I’m proud to say I left behind a fair amount of young people that I worked with, offered what I could, and some of them will be future leaders at LDG.
What are your plans for retirement?
I’ve got some carpentry projects to do. I’ll spend a lot of time with my grandkids and a lot of traveling around the U.S. And also, working in my garden, boating with friends; now I can go during the week when it isn’t so crowded!