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From left: Shawn Barry, VP and civil engineering manager; Jeff Mueller, VP and planning department manager; Adam Toth, president; and Matt Miller, VP and civil engineering manager
Tawnie Wilson | SBJ
From left: Shawn Barry, VP and civil engineering manager; Jeff Mueller, VP and planning department manager; Adam Toth, president; and Matt Miller, VP and civil engineering manager

2024 Dynamic Dozen No. 8: Toth and Associates Inc.

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SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Adam Toth: One is just general industry growth. We’re in infrastructure mainly. There is more infrastructure going on in the country than historically. There’s been, in our civil group, quite a bit of (American Rescue Plan Act) money that is funding quite a bit of infrastructure improvements. On the electric utility side, there has been a push through some of those infrastructure bills for more transmission lines to serve carbon-free power. We’re doing a lot of work for 7 Brew all across the country. We are doing the site development for hundreds of 7 Brews.

SBJ: Toth and Associates recently was named as one of the top places to work in engineering by Best Companies Group. Can you talk about your employee satisfaction philosophy and how you’re accomplishing that?
Toth: I recognize that people spend a third of their waking life at the office. I want to create a culture where people don’t dread going to work. We try to encourage community. We have a Ping-Pong table, free sodas and an espresso coffee bar. And then we have several company outings a year. Part of that also is we really encourage people to suggest that we hire their friends – and family even – and that kind of bucks the trend a little, but it has worked for us. The idea is ... it’s hard to quit your work. It’s harder to quit your friends. That’s really helped with the loyalty of our employees. When they create friendships at the office, they’re not only loyal to the company, they’re also loyal to their friends. People usually recommend really high-performing friends or family because they know it’s a reflection of them. Another thing is just general business sense. I try to manage with a people-first mentality. We are a consulting engineering firm. We don’t own any patents. We don’t sell any products. If half of our people left, we probably lose half of our business. Our people are our product.

SBJ: Do you see your company’s growth as being sustainable?
Toth: We’ve never acquired anyone. Our growth has always been organic. I don’t see it slowing down for a while. A lot of engineering firms are getting acquired by venture capital or by large engineering or construction firms. When that happens, their level of service typically goes down. Their personal touch typically goes down. We have found opportunities in picking up work in areas where a longtime consultant sells to somebody else. We’re able to go in and provide better service to those clients. That really happened with our growth in the Pacific Northwest. I’d say we’ve added 20 utility clients in the Pacific Northwest in the last couple of years, which has been a key to our growth also.

SBJ: With your industry, is there such a thing as growing too quickly?
Toth: The way that we temper that is we diversify across various end clients. We’re diversified enough that if one unit of our business pulled back, we would reallocate employees to other parts. In 20 years, we’ve never had a layoff for lack of work, and I want to continue that.

SBJ: What is the best or worst business advice you’ve received?
Toth: The worst advice I was given was don’t become friends with your employees. That is said by a lot of people, and I just don’t believe it. I don’t live by it. I care so much about my employees that how could I not see them as my friends, and really my family. The best advice ... I’ll give two: Care about people and do what you said you were going to do.

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