At AKS Engineering and Forestry, business is personal.
“We want our customers to know that every time we work, we feel like our money is at stake,” said Blair Carlson, owner and lead project manager. This type of service ethic has helped AKS grow steadily.
AKS started in 1996 with three founders in the fields of civil engineering, land surveying and forestry / forest technology. New disciplines have emerged along the way, including land use planning, water resources, natural resources, landscape architecture and construction-related services. Today there are 280 employees whose commitment to the company and positive feedback have earned AKS a place as 2021 winner in The Oregonian / OregonLive’s “Top Workplaces” competition, which is now in its 10th year. AKS has been named a Top Workplaces winner for the third time.
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AKS serves customers in a wide variety of sectors: private developers for residential, industrial and commercial projects; public institutions for cities, counties, and states; and special districts, such as ports, schools, and utilities. Although the company does not disclose sales figures as it is privately owned, its average sales growth rate is 30%.
One of the keys to employee growth and satisfaction, according to Carlson, is a relentless focus on personal development. “When we were younger, we didn’t have to create development plans for our employees because it happened organically as teams worked together and learned more about each other’s roles. But as we grew, we formalized training and career path exploration. “
The company supports its employees by giving them courses, certifications, or hands-on experience, like a surveyor who was able to work with skilled arborists to fuel their interest in this potential career path.
Carlson says the key is to have open discussions with each team member about what they want and then help them achieve those goals. One of the options AKS Champions offers is cross-training so that an engineer can go into the field to conduct survey work or construction inspections. Viewing these different disciplines up close not only opens up various possibilities for the employee, but also brings added value for the company and customers, as it helps them to view projects holistically.
That perspective is one of the skills Carlson believes set AKS apart and was critical to its longevity. “While other companies only touch part of a project, we understand the entire process from start to finish,” he says. It also encourages team members to look at the various project needs from someone else’s point of view, which can be more difficult in an isolated setting.
AKS is headquartered in Tualatin and has offices in Oregon in Bend and Keizer and one in Vancouver, Washington, to which the team has been happy to return.
“While we were impressed with the effort everyone put in working remotely, it made everything we do a lot more difficult. One of the values we convey to our customers and what makes AKS a great place to work is how we work together, ”says Carlson. “When we were all working remotely, you may have had to make two calls and send three emails to get the information you need Expert.”
Principal Alex Hurley characterizes the workforce as a team, but emphasizes that they are also on the same team with their customers. “Over the years we have grown and our customers have grown with us. This philosophy enables us to build long-term relationships that have grown over the years, both internally and externally. We see our work as a marathon, not a sprint. “
For more information on top jobs, visit oregonlive.com/topworkplaces.