This week, Larson Design Group celebrated the hiring of its 300th employee.
LDG’s growth has been steady since it was founded in 1986, when Ken Larson retired from PennDOT and teamed up with Hunt Engineers as they merged with Ferrell Engineering and Surveying to start an office in central Pennsylvania. In 1988, Hunt Engineers merged with John Hoffman Architects to create the premier engineering, architecture, and surveying firm in the region. Officially born as Larson Design Group in 1993 through an employee stock buyout, LDG has grown from one office in Williamsport, PA, to 13 offices in five states. Keith Kuzio, President and CEO, joined the firm in 1992 and became CEO in 2003.
We sat down with Keith Kuzio to discuss growth, challenges, and what’s in store for LDG’s future.
What changes have you seen during your time at LDG?
When I joined LDG in October 1992, we had about 40 employees. Since then, in addition to growing our number of employees, we’ve grown a lot geographically. We now have 13 offices across five states.
We’ve also diversified by expanding into new markets. Energy is one area that we’ve added in response to changing market needs. We’ve broadened our capabilities in areas such as facilities engineering, and narrowed the scope of some of our other services, such as with architecture. We’ve tried to adapt our business model to the opportunities that have become available to us as we’ve grown as a company. So overall, we have had some service additions and some changes in service focus, but we’ve always remained growth-oriented.
Why is growth so important?
Our industry is maturing; there are a lot of firms out there serving a lot of clients. If you grow, you’re able to invest in new technology, bring new talent into your firm, bring new capabilities to your clients, and you’re able to provide challenging and rewarding work for your people so that you can retain them over the long term. I believe that most people inherently want to continually improve. That continual improvement is strong in our culture. We want to be high-performing, and part of obtaining high performance is to continually develop ourselves, our services, and our level of service to clients. Our commitment to this is proven through our growth.
What has been the greatest challenge of running a growing company?
There are two. First, maintaining the core values of the organization, because as the firm grows, you bring in new people. With that, you’re growing geographically and spreading out offices while trying to maintain the same culture in new areas. The second challenge is communication and keeping everybody aligned with the values, mission, and organizational goals.
What’s in store for LDG’s future?
A lot more growth. We plan to double our size and revenues in the next four years. I’d like to see us strengthen and grow our branch offices into well-established, multi-disciplined offices.
However, even though we’re getting bigger, I want to see us continue to stay close to the roots of the organization, and I think we’re doing that. LDG started out with Ken Larson leading what was a longtime local municipal office, Bob Ferrell Engineering and Surveying. We recently acquired Daniel C. Baker Associates, a similar firm with a similar leader, Craig Baker. Craig shares the values that LDG was founded on and he’s very well respected. As we’ve grown, we have come closer to our roots. I think that by bringing a firm of that type into the mix, it helps remind us of where we came from and the important things that differentiated us and allowed us to grow the way that we have. My goals are for us to not lose sight of those opportunities and to stay connected to where we were as a small company.