What one step can your business take that will –strengthen internal relationships, positively impact recruitment and retention, drive sales, increase visibility, and help create better places to live and work? According to volunteeringinamerica.gov “Altogether, 62.6 million Americans volunteered nearly 7.7 billion hours last year. Based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour, the estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $173 billion.” What better way for a business to connect to the community than volunteering time and resources to make it the best it can be? This is especially true in the A/E/C industry. As those responsible for shaping the physical landscape of cities and towns, professionals within the industry share the responsibility of helping to shape the civic landscape as well. To understand fully the needs of the community, you have to be part of it. In addition to traditional volunteer activities – giving to charitable organizations, collecting and distributing goods, serving food to those in need, mentoring and coaching – there are many opportunities to effect change by becoming involved in the local government or Chamber of Commerce. As Executive Vice President of Energy Services at Crafton Tull, it was an honor to be named Chairperson of Conway Chamber of Commerce. This position allows me to further share how community involvement benefits local businesses and the community as a whole.
Following are my top three examples:
– Increase Recruitment and Retention / Increase Visibility
It’s no secret that people want to work for a company that is visible in the community, and visible for the right reasons. Just like in many areas of life, reputation is everything when it comes to recruiting and keeping a talented workforce. I am proud to say I work for Crafton Tull for many reasons; top of that list is that we walk the walk when it comes to living our values of: Integrity, Respect, Excellence, Responsiveness, Teamwork, and Safety. In February of this year we were thrilled to be named Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation by the Arkansas Business Journal, as well as recently being named a finalist for Oklahoma’s Journal Record Beacon Award. I strongly believe that by engaging your employees in community outreach you increase morale, which in turn increases retention and exposure to a broader base for recruiting new talented employees. In fact, many recent graduates see working for a company that gives back as a job benefit. United Way also states that one-third of millennials surveyed in the 2014 Millennial Impact Report take a company’s volunteer policies into consideration when deciding whether to apply for a job. Having had the pleasure of joining in green initiatives and charitable contributions as a Crafton Tull team member, I have seen the positive impact community involvement has from both the private and public sector. The bonding that occurs when talented, committed people come together for a common purpose is second to none.
– Drive Sales
As well as the obvious personal and professional benefits that come from giving back, I have seen community involvement and positive exposure directly affect a company’s bottom line profit. When employees are proud of their company’s contributions, the more they are willing and eager to give back to the community both financially and charitably. A 2014 study by Nielsen found Fifty-five percent of global online consumers across 60 countries are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that commit to positive social and environmental impact. It really is a snowball effect. When companies use their positive reputation to encourage community involvement, it draws positive attention. Our Mission is: Improving communities through professional design and surveying…one project at a time. I’ll tell you, we put a lot of thought into that statement. Crafton Tull wants to make money like any other business, but we know firsthand consumers want to be in business with companies that give back on a real and consistent basis. The positive exposure gained through philanthropic efforts is immeasurable when it comes to actual sales. However, being honored nationally for our year-long outreach program certainly shines a light on what we do in our communities, which in turn highlights our professional design and survey capabilities.
– Help Build Better Communities
This is your town and your involvement is what makes it strong, and a strong community can withstand whatever is thrown at it. I speak to so many folks and business owners around Conway who are interested in becoming more engaged with the community. The Chamber of Commerce is the place to start. By joining the chamber you gain access to resources you simply cannot find anywhere else. This town is brimming with progress in the form of job opportunities, diversified churches, schools, events, and festivals. When businesses decide to sponsor Toad Suck Daze, Business Expo, Taste of Conway, Bowling for Business, Women in Business, or Minority Enterprise Development, they tap into that progress in a real way. These are just a few of the events that make the City of Conway the close-knit community it is. By volunteering time and financial resources, you build better communities; it’s that simple.
To find out how to get involved in your local chamber of commerce, visit:
For more information, visit:
Crafton Tull supports the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project to construct a power line that will transmit electrical power from wind farms in western Oklahoma to points in Arkansas and other places in the southeastern United States.
Our firm has a master service agreement with Clean Line to provide land surveying on an as-needed basis. To date, we have set the primary control along the proposed 700-mile Plains & Eastern route in Arkansas and Oklahoma and done other preliminary, miscellaneous surveys. We are impressed with the professionalism of the Clean Line staff. They have gone “above and beyond” to treat all landowners as well as our staff with the utmost courtesy and respect.
Whether provided by our firm or others, we believe there may be as many as 50 land surveyors who will work on this project once it proceeds. This workforce will have approximately $1.5 million in direct salary impact on our state over the life of the project. Those surveyors will eat meals, stay in hotels and shop in the areas they are working.
Crafton Tull supports the Plains & Eastern Clean Line for the following reasons:
• Arkansas needs more low-cost clean energy. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line would enable Arkansas to double the amount of wind energy currently acquired in the state. That’s enough to power over 160,000 Arkansas homes every year.
• Wind power reduces harmful pollutants and leads to cleaner air and better health for Arkansans. Wind power saves consumers money and helps to stabilize electricity rates against escalations due to fuel price increases.
• The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will boost jobs and economic development in Arkansas. Building this transmission line will support hundreds of construction and manufacturing jobs in Arkansas.
• Jobs could include: surveying, trucking and hauling, equipment operation and fueling, site grading, framing and drilling foundations, pouring concrete, building temporary access roads and more.
• The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will pay millions annually to local communities that host the transmission line.
• Clean Line will compensate landowners fairly by offering 100 percent of the fair market value of the land within the easement area for the transmission line, in addition to payments for each structure on their property.
• Clean Line has followed an extensive review process and sought input from the public to route the transmission line so that it avoids and minimizes impacts to sensitive environmental resources and existing land uses.
• Clean Line is committed to building and maintaining long-lasting relationships with landowners by working in a respectful and collaborative manner, and in minimizing impacts to existing uses of their property.
Crafton Tull is a 260-person architecture, engineering and surveying firm with six offices in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Our firm was founded in Rogers in 1963. We have an energy division, headquartered in Conway, with over 100 office and field surveyors.
We hope our fellow Arkansans will also support the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project.
– Matt Crafton
President & CEO
For more information on how you can help support the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, please visit:
Define. Promote. Protect. Those of you who have had an opportunity to review the NSPE Strategic Plan know that these words have been adopted as the organization’s Statement of Principles. I wanted to begin my tenure as ASPE President by giving my take on the benefits of having a simple, unifying message for ASPE and engineers in general. It is easy to become distracted by the many differences between disciplines. However, learning to focus instead on the numerous similarities is critical to maintaining relevance. The Strategic Plan is designed to do just that: put the spotlight on member engagement and involvement. The reality is that membership numbers are slipping across the board. This is due in part to other organizations offering other places for engineers to spend their time and money. In order to stop the trend currently splintering our membership, it is essential that we deliver this concise new message explaining who we are and what we do.
DEFINE. In order to successfully implement a strategy based on the idea of raising awareness about being a Professional Engineer, you must first have a clear and concise definition of what it means to be a PE. Along with the requisite education, technical competence, and registration maintenance, a PE has an obligation to the health, safety, and welfare of the public at large. This type of responsibility calls for a high measure of professionalism and dedication to quality service; not only service to clients, but also to improving communities through public involvement, volunteerism, and philanthropic acts.
PROMOTE: As we all know, engineers don’t just drive trains. We know this because it is our chosen profession. As such, it is our job to educate the public on the dozens of practices that fall in the category of Professional Engineer. When a registered PE becomes involved in programs such as Engineers Week and Project Lead the Way, they help shape the public understanding regarding the integral role engineers play in providing meaning and value to communities where they live and work. Social Media is becoming an indispensable tool for exposing students, educators, and the general population to opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM.) Twitter campaigns like #BeAnEngineer and #ilooklikeanengineer are promoting the diversity of the people and careers available to Professional Engineers.
PROTECT: Perhaps the most important of these Principles is the responsibility we have to defend the engineering profession through active opposition to practice by unlicensed individuals. As Professional Engineers, it is imperative that we take the time to educate legislators and lawmakers from all levels of government on the fundamental need for PE registration. It is critical to our profession that we protect and support high standards for obtaining licensure. Just as critical is the support for high standards in ethics and professionalism. The NSPE is the only professional engineering organization made up of engineers from any discipline. A desire to maintain the integrity of our profession is a common thread among all areas of practice.
We know that ours is a profession that, when done properly, often goes unseen by the public at large. Many outside the engineering industry are not aware of the vast difference in skill and training that exists between licensed and unlicensed practitioners. It is the primary goal of the NSPE to draw attention to these differences by advocating the benefits of licensure. The organization uses its national platform to encourage leadership training, multidisciplinary networking, and education as a way of effectively raising awareness. It is then up to us to strengthen that impact through involvement on the national, state, and local level.
To honor the opening of The Crossing at Angel Court, Arkansas’ first fully accessible park, we want to post an article written by our own Dave Roberts in January of 2014. As a park planner and landscape architect, he knows just how possible it is to build parks that are 100% inclusive. As father to a wonderful daughter who happens to have special needs, he knows just how necessary these accessible parks are to the health and happiness of all families. Municipal League City & Town Dave Roberts
In August of this year, The City of Camden, Arkansas adopted their Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan. Similarly, the City of El Dorado recently started the planning process for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations throughout their town. Both communities chose Crafton Tull to guide these efforts. According to Julie Luther, senior planner and project manager at Crafton Tull, “These plans don’t just focus on recreation; it’s about providing transportation alternatives for pedestrians and cyclists.” Residents want neighborhoods that connect to schools, parks, and other destinations in town. When well planned and phased over time, a bicycle and pedestrian network will meet those needs.
El Dorado is enthusiastic about the prospect of connecting more with the downtown entertainment district. When patrons can walk or ride to get where they’re going, parking around the square becomes less of an issue. Dave Roberts, Crafton Tull’s Vice President of Planning, often reminds each community, “We are all pedestrians.” Whether you walk or use a wheelchair, like his daughter Alex, providing access is the key to getting people out and about. Upcoming public meetings in El Dorado will provide citizens the opportunity to express their goals for the plan, while a steering committee will guide the team’s efforts throughout the process.
Camden Connections, a local foundation, is raising money for a rails-to-trails project to link downtown’s old train depot to existing bike lanes two miles away. The money raised will also go to fund the first phase of the citywide master plan. The depot, which now houses the Chamber of Commerce, is the perfect trail head for visitors who wish to walk or bike the paved trail connecting neighborhoods to all four schools. Once completed, the two-mile multi-use path will include lights, benches, and interpretive rest areas. To find out more on the future trail visit their website at www.camdenconnections.org.
Bicycling and walking in South Arkansas is alive and well, thanks to innovative municipal leaders and residents taking an active approach to planning. In addition to improved connectivity, the added benefits of staying active and healthy cannot be overstated. Communities that invest in recreational and transformative opportunities for their citizens are taking steps in the right direction.
This article is one of several great pieces featured in the current issue of Bike Arkansas Magazine.
Crafton Tull is now a League of American Bicyclists recognized Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Business (BFBSM)!
We are thrilled to join a cutting-edge group of more than 1,000 local businesses, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies across the United States that are transforming the American workplace.
“The business community’s investment in bicycling is playing a central role in making the country a safer, happier, and more sustainable place to live and work,” said Amelia Neptune, League Bicycle Friendly Business Program Manager. “We applaud this new round of businesses, including Crafton Tull, for leading the charge in creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone.”
Find the full list of recognized businesses at http://www.bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/BFB_Full_List_through_Summer_2015_1.pdf
Learn more about the League’s Bicycle Friendly Business program at bikeleague.org/business.