Wood Rodgers’ Reno office shows signs of a rebirth
The Reno office, Wood Rodgers has operated in sync with the peaks and valleys of the northern Nevada economy
When the area was booming in mid-2000s, so too was business for the multi-disciplinary engineering firm.
But when the recession hit, a good chunk of potential projects disappeared and hit the company hard. Since then though, the company has experienced a rebirth.
Wood Rodgers recently moved into a build-to-suit 20,000-square-foot flex space off of Corporate Boulevard in Reno, signifying its continued growth. (NNBW published a press release on Dec. 5, 2016 announcing Wood Rodgers’ move. For the full story, click here: https://www.nnbw.com/news/newsletter/reno-engineering-firm-invests-in-culture-centric-20000-square-foot-building/.)
Steve Strickland, Wood Rodgers’ vice president of civil engineering, explained its previous office didn’t quite fit the company’s needs in size and in culture.
“The last building we had a public works group and a private works group that were separated by other rooms in the middle,” Strickland said. “We found there’s too much collaboration between the two groups and we’re not going to thrive being separated like that.”
He added that the other facility was too small to adequately house all of Wood Rogers’ field operations and lab departments and had to be housed at another site a mile away.
“The new office is all open and not your traditional office with closed doors,” Strickland said. “Offices separated with big sliding glass walls and we open them up if we need to. It’s much more transparent and interactive.”
To design the new office, Wood Rodgers experimented with its own developmental technology, including headsets that offer 3-D views of plans. Strickland and Andy Durling, a principal in the firm’s planning department said Wood Rodgers tries to stay ahead of the curve on technology, with a staff that customizes the company’s programs.
“Wood Rodgers has programmers in house so we do more sophisticated things than the average engineering firm can do,” Durling said.
They said its advanced GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping technology and its AutoCAD software, Strickland and Durling said, have drawn raves from others in the industry.
We want to be on the cutting edge of technology, (maybe not on the bleeding edge) but we want to at the front of the line,” Strickland said. “At the end of the day we see a set of plans and see how it should be done faster.”
In addition, Wood Rodgers uses drone technology for its mapping and surveying disciplines. The firm is also one of the few engineering companies that study soils used for asphalt for parking lots and roads for a longer life span.
Some of its local projects are Rancharrah and the Park Lane Mall redevelopment. It also won a contract for the Stead airport runway project and is involved in the development of several apartment complexes.
“We’re just about ready to break ground on the (Regional Transportation Commission’s) Fourth Street project, we started actually as a pro bono in 2009 and finally now it’s coming to fruition,” Durling said. “That’s going to be huge.”
Wood Rodgers was founded in 1997 by engineers Rich Wood and Mark Rodgers and is headquartered in Sacramento.
The company started as a land development firm, but as the company grew it also expanded its disciplines and outreach.
In April of 2003, Wood Rodgers acquired Mountain West Consulting in Reno, its first presence in northern Nevada. Strickland moved from Sacramento to help up the new Reno office.
The acquisition, coupled with Wood Rodgers desire to expand its services and the economic boom, allowed the company to grow to as many as 100 employees in Reno. But during the recession, its workforce shrunk substantially. Today, the Reno office employs about 70, of which nine returned to Wood Rodgers after working for the company during the good times.
According to Strickland and Durling, the company is a trendsetter. Unlike other companies in the industry, employees including its principals are paid by the hour instead of by salaries. They said an hourly wage system lends itself to a more flexible work schedule.
“They’re not stuck at 40 hours a week,” Strickland said. “If they want to work 30 hours a week they can do that. If they work 50 hours in one week they can do that too. If one person wants to work ridiculous hours and another person doesn’t that’s fine.”
Durling added, “We got people who telecommute from Gardnerville, we got parents with families, so (they) work from home. If there’s awesome snow powder in Tahoe, they can go for it.”
Strickland said the hourly wages gives employees more incentive to work harder and limits some bickering in the workplace.
“If you’re salaried, one person may be upset because one person may be paid the same even though they may work a lot of hours while another person isn’t working those hours.”
Along with its Reno office, Wood Rogers has locations in Las Vegas and California.
Wood Rodgers disciplines include civil engineering, land planning, surveying, and geotechnical services.
For more information on Wood Rodgers, go online at: http://www.woodrodgers.com.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.