HDL Engineering’s Mark Swenson and Scott Hattenburg on-site. Hattenburg originally founded HDL Engineering with
Lorie Dilley and Dennis Linnell. Photo courtesy HDL Engineering
By Samantha Davenport
Local knowledge, connections give multifaceted firm an extra edge
Sometimes local knowledge — from how traffic flows in problem areas to the current market price and availability of gravel near a project — can make all the difference in how well a company is able to do its job. On several levels, HDL Engineering succeeds at tapping that local knowledge for the benefit of its clients.
HDL Engineering is a locally owned consulting firm that offers its clients a variety of services, including civil, geotechnical and transportation engineering; surveying and mapping; material testing; environmental services; and more.
Jeff Fuglestad, HDL’s general manager and principal civil engineer, has been with the firm since 2002. He previously worked at a competing firm for over a decade when one of his coworkers, Dennis Linnell (the “L” in HDL), joined Scott Hattenburg and Lorie Dilley on their own venture.
“When (Dennis and I) came here, both of us in combination were able to bring to HDL that expertise that they didn’t have at that time, in terms of a lot of roadway-type projects that we were able to propose on with some other agencies,”
Fuglestad said the most rewarding aspect of his job is improving safety.
“What I really enjoy is when we are working on a project where there’s a high number of existing crashes,” Fuglestad said. “When there are some concerns about safety along the corridors, I can work with our client to come up with solutions to improve safety. That, to me, is what keeps me coming to work every day.”
When Fuglestad came on board, there were about 15 people on staff. Today, there are about 70 engineers, geologists, surveyors and employees at HDL Engineering.
Fuglestad isn’t the only one who has been with the company from its early days. Nick Oliveira began working for HDL Engineering when he was 17 years old. At the time, it was HD Engineering. Hattenburg asked Oliveira’s father if he knew anyone who wanted a job involving the airport master plan in Seldovia; he recommended his son. Oliveira spent the summer counting airplanes and otherwise helping on the project.
Soon after, Oliveira graduated from high school and began attending the University of Alaska Anchorage. He eventually began interning as a material testing technician, and a year later, Linnell asked if he could come on full time. Now, he’s a transportation engineer at the firm and focuses on plans involving the Municipality of Anchorage and the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, as well as rural projects. Currently, Oliveira said he’s balancing more than a dozen projects, including traffic calming and speed humps.
Oliveira said that being a member of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska has helped create connections across the state and also lifted a financial burden.
“Because (HDL Engineering is) a member of AGC, we get to participate in certain group insurance stuff, and I think because of that and because of the fact that we are part of the bigger group as being an employee, it really helped reduce the cost of my insurance for my family,” Oliveira said.
Among those connections is K&H Civil Constructors, owned by Matt Ketchum and Scott Hessinger. K&H is a prime contractor and aggregate supplier. Ketchum has known Linnell and Hattenburg since the ’90s.
Two of HDL Engineering’s surveyors on the job. Surveying is one of the many services that the firm provides.Photo courtesy HDL Engineering
K&H worked with HDL Engineering on a project last season. Out of six proposals, Ketchum’s firm won the contract. He thinks a large part of that had to do with their partnership with HDL Engineering.
“They have an office out here in the Valley,” Ketchum said. “They have got a great relationship with the public agencies. They are very in tune with the materials and subcontractors and work that goes on out here. They are really knowledgeable about the local market.”
HDL Engineering has offices in Anchorage, Palmer and Kenai.
Samantha Davenport is a freelance writer who lives in Anchorage.