At Larson Design Group, we believe that our employees are our greatest asset. This spotlight is on James Patil, Sr. Project Manager in our Transportation group.
What is your position here at Larson Design Group and when did you join LDG?
I work as Senior Project Manager for the Bridge Department. I joined LDG in June of 2015 when the company was approaching the 300-employee mark. At the time, I had one of my kids in college and two at home, but now all three have essentially flown the nest.
Describe a typical day in your role:
Typical days have become quite rare in the past year. Even before that, I didn’t – and would venture to say that most LDG Project Managers don’t – have a typical day, but I have similar components that could comprise any given day of my planned week including, but not limited to communicating with staff and delegating tasks; preparing scopes, schedules, budgets and status reports; holding team meetings and reporting at department meetings; business development and project pursuit meetings; and meeting, calling or emailing with clients.
What attracted you to join Larson Design Group originally?
I spent the early part of my career working for a smaller ESOP engineering company and later moved to a large publicly traded engineering company with around 2,500 employees for several years after that. Bigger projects were interesting for a time, but having spent several years in both settings, I found that I preferred the culture of an ESOP, where employees have both a vested interest in the ongoing success of the company and more of a voice in expressing ideas. When I learned that LDG was looking for a PM and was a partial ESOP (at the time), I investigated more, met with Quentin Rissler, and learned that LDG had the thriving culture, values, people and variety of projects I would appreciate. Even better now that we are “All In”!
How has Larson Design Group helped you in your career development?
LDG is intentional about investing in professional growth, training, and career development. As a result, I have been able to keep pace with industry changes and hone my skills in managing projects and people. The leadership and people I work with here are simply excellent at what they do. Iron sharpens iron.
What is your proudest moment at Larson Design Group?
There were several, but two stand out for me:
One was when I submitted a winning proposal for a multi-bridge package with District 5. LDG was deemed to be a low probability selection, since we had just won a multi-bridge package the year before. Another was when the colleagues and staff on my team collectively won an award for Employee Engagement. I was very proud of them!
If you could switch places with anyone else at Larson Design Group for a day, who would it be and why?
If there were to be a “Freaky Friday” moment for me here at LDG, I think I would really enjoy the actual perspective of being a top LDG client interacting with the people at LDG for a day (as long as I didn’t get any invoices from LDG’s accounting department that day). We are all asked to put ourselves in our client’s shoes from time to time, and this would be the ultimate way to have their perspective.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I once had a side hustle. Back in 2009, a college buddy and I were frustrated that we couldn’t find kid-sized gloves for our young daughters who were getting blisters on playground equipment. So, we formed an LLC to develop and sell outdoor playground/activity gloves for grade school age kids. With the commissioned help of an online specialty glove retailer, we had a prototype manufactured and after having our kids and their friends test them out and making a few refinements, began selling gloves in three different kid sizes on the retailer’s site. In addition, we were able to get the gloves placed in a few local proprietor shops on consignment. Online sales were better than expected the first couple months; however, our efforts to move beyond that into larger retailers proved challenging for various reasons. Only a few of the retailers would even let us pitch the product, and the ones who were interested required price points, placement costs and a share of the margins that simply didn’t allow us to return a profit. Facebook and Google Ads were helpful, but after two years or so, the online sales decreased below a breakeven point, so we decided to “hang up the gloves” and chalk it up to a fun learning experience. My 10-year old daughter had hand-modeled the girls’ version in our online marketing photos, and my teenage son helped develop the “Kidskins” brand logo. He also helped me develop a tagline for marketing the product. He went on to major in Marketing, and though he hasn’t said so, I think that some of this experience may have spurred that interest.
Despite the business challenges, in strictly engineering terms it was a success, because our daughters liked the solution we provided to address the problem.
What advice do you have for a prospective candidate considering Larson Design Group?
I would simply advise candidates to take a good look at the vision and values of LDG, check out our new website, be free to ask questions, and take some time to talk to some of the great people they’d be working with here and see if this is the kind of growing, vibrant, employee-owned company they would want to engage with. I would assure them that coming to LDG was one of the better decisions I made, and that here at LDG, we do our best to “walk the talk.”