At AKS Engineering and Forestry, business is personal.
âWe want our clients to know that with every job, we feel like it’s our money at stake,â says Blair Carlson, Owner and Senior Project Manager. This type of service ethic is what has helped AKS grow steadily.
AKS started with three founders in 1996, offering civil engineering, surveying and forest / forestry engineering services. Along the way, he added new disciplines that include land use planning, water resources, natural resources, landscape architecture and construction support services. Today there are 280 employees, whose dedication to the company and positive reviews earned AKS a spot as a 2021 winner in the Oregonian / OregonLive Top Workplaces competition, now in its 10th year. This is the third time that AKS has been named a Top Workplaces winner.
> Here are the 119 best places to work in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
AKS serves clients in a multitude of industries: private developers for residential, industrial and commercial projects; public agencies for cities, counties and states; and special districts, such as ports, schools and utilities. Although the company does not disclose its sales figures since it is privately owned, its average revenue growth rate is 30%.
One of the keys to both its growth and employee satisfaction is a relentless focus on personal development, explains Carlson. âWhen we were smaller, we didn’t need to create development ‘plans’ for our employees, as this happened organically when teams worked together and learned more about each other’s roles. But as we grew, we formalized training and exploring career paths.
The company supports employees by allowing them to take courses, obtain certifications or gain practical experience, such as a surveyor who has been able to work with seasoned arborists to reinforce their interest in this potential career.
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 opportunities offered to AKS Champions is cross training, so that an engineer can go to the field to do survey work or construction inspections. Seeing these different disciplines up close not only exposes the employee to different opportunities, but also brings value to the company and clients as it helps them see projects in a more holistic way.
This perspective is one of the abilities, according to Carlson, that sets AKS apart and has been essential to its longevity. âWhile other companies may only touch one part of a project, we understand the whole process from start to finish,â he says. It also encourages team members to consider the different project requirements from someone else’s perspective, which can be more difficult in a siled environment.
Based in Tualatin, AKS also has offices in Oregon in Bend and Keizer and one in Vancouver, Washington, where the team is happy to be back.
âWhile we were impressed with the effort everyone put in working remotely, it made everything we do that much more difficult. One of the values ââwe bring to our customers and, frankly, what makes AKS a great place to work is our collaboration, âsays Carlson. âWhen we were all working remotely, you might have to make two phone calls and send three emails to get the information you need. expert.”
Manager Alex Hurley describes the workforce as a team, but emphasizes that they are also part of the same team as their clients. âOver the years, we have grown and our clients have grown with us. This philosophy allows us to build lasting relationships that have lasted over the years, both internally and externally. We see our work as a marathon, not a sprint.
See more coverage of the best workplaces at oregonlive.com/topworkplaces.