Engineers Week '21 is upon us, so we took a few minutes to visit with Garmann Miller electrical engineer and CEO Eric Baltzell, PE. Read below to gain perspective on Eric's leadership path, the growth and success of the firm, and changes he has experienced in his 20 years at the firm.
Q1: You started with Garmann Miller 20 years ago as an electrical engineer. Talk about your path to being CEO and what has been your greatest challenge.
A: I started with the firm in 2001 as its first engineer hired. A month later, I was able to get our now chief operating officer, Chris Monnin, to join me at Garmann Miller. I was electrical and Chris was mechanical, and we led our departments, working hand in hand with our founders, Brad Garmann and Bruce Miller, who ran the company. When they decided to begin the succession process, the leaders of the firm met to discuss how the firm would look long-term and who would serve in leadership positions. I was voted as CEO, and Chris as COO, and we began our roles in early 2017. When it comes to challenges, you can’t compare anything to what we’ve experienced in 2020. We’ve had to be flexible and try our best to adapt to the changes, which we are still doing on a daily basis. We all were learning new things—how the pandemic was going to impact us, our families and our clients, how we communicated with the team. My approach was to provide clarity to our team and effectively communicate the plan and procedures we had put in place.
Q2: Zweig Group named Garmann Miller its No. 1 full-service firm to work for. What do you most attribute that recognition to?
A: Our culture. We aim to maintain the culture that Brad (Garmann) and Bruce (Miller) started in 1993, which at its foundation was to create quality design, provide exceptional service and always do what’s right. And we’ve been very intentional with whom we want as part of our team. When we talk with job candidates, we dedicate a significant amount of time in explaining who we are and what we’re about, as well as the day-to-day responsibilities. We also put time into getting to know them and their goals and making sure that they understand who we are, sharing our vision, our why, making it very clear who we are. As for what separates us, I believe it’s our exceptional service, responsiveness and listening, which leads to fully understanding a client’s challenges and needs. We then are committed to providing solutions and answers to those needs. Everyone here is willing to jump in; there are no egos, everyone works together to do what’s best for the client.
Q3: Since you started with Garmann Miller, what are some of the more significant changes you’ve experienced?
AutoCAD to Revit, modeling in 3D design, has been significant. I’m really proud of our group, they’ve embraced this technology, and I’m amazed with how talented they are working in it. 3D animations, laser scanning, drones, all are part of this modern tech we’re using, and it continues to advance. For our policies, I like to always encourage family first and keeping a good work-life balance. Even before the pandemic, we adjusted our policy to allow more flexibility in working from home and investing in the hardware and software for our team to do that. It benefits all of us if we give our people freedom and have the resources to be productive, not only in the office but at home as well. Finally, opening two offices outside of Minster, Columbus in 2018 and Indianapolis in 2020, has been exciting. This has allowed us to expand our reach and enter into new markets.