25 stories for 25 years | Dan Rogers

On October 5, 2020, WSB will celebrate our 25th year in business. Since 1995, we’ve added new service areas, expanded our reach and served our communities.  Throughout our tenure, our dedicated staff has been a constant.

In honor of our 25th year, we’ll be highlighting 25 stories of the people behind the projects.

Story 3 of 25

Dan Rogers, Director of Transportation Design – Texas | Joined WSB in 2018

What do you think is special about celebrating 25 years as a company?

I think it’s very special to work for a company that has survived and prospered for 25 years. Throughout WSB’s entire tenure, it has maintained a high level of passion for providing exceptional services while staying true to the firm’s values. Although services have been added, we’ve remained committed to serving our clients with our expertise. I think this type of approach bodes well for the future of WSB.

What has been the most memorable moment in your career at WSB?

One of the most memorable moments was hearing Bret Weiss, our CEO, speak at the most recent annual dinner in Minneapolis. I felt inspired and energized after the event. Bret brings great passion to his work and I find it infectious.

We believe in building what’s next in infrastructure – how do you live that value in your work?

We’re really on the cutting-edge of embracing what’s next in infrastructure. In Texas, we are very focused on learning, implementing and ultimately excelling at BIM-based design.  Over the next few years, these platforms will help automate construction.  It’s exciting to not only be thinking of future innovations but leaning into the change in our industry.

What WSB value to you connect most with? (Bold, Visionary, Authentic, Passionate, Optimistic)

I connect most with our passionate value. I’m pretty passionate about what I do because at the end of the day, we’re making people’s lives better. We’re facilitating improvements to infrastructure that make the roads and water safer. I appreciate the opportunity to have an impact on the community and the people who live in them.

What is one thing you want to tell the future leaders of WSB?

Maintain leadership’s commitment to our core values.  Keep the ship running and continue to move forward. It’s easy for companies to shift priorities and direction with changes in leadership. WSB has come a long way in 25 years and maintaining those core values will help drive us successfully through the next 25.

Five reasons why construction inspection can make (or break) your project

By Eric Breitsprecher, Project Manager, WSB

Construction inspection is essential for successful project delivery. Whether it’s reviewing project specifications on-site or documenting changes to an existing plan, inspection is necessary to meet industry standards for accuracy, quality and to keep construction work on time and within budget.

Here are five reasons to consider construction services on your next project.

Successful delivery is in the details. Reviewing the contract closely and building out the approved project scope ensures each deliverable is accurately executed for the client. Detailed record keeping and photo documentation is important to ensuring a project is delivered to client standards.

Real-time inspections and instant information sharing. Monitoring project information from the field through real-time data collection provides enhanced reporting, faster processing and improved data management. Cutting-edge tools allow for real-time solutions that minimize risk to both clients and the general public. Quick information sharing and communication between the owner and contractor can be critical in addressing urgent problems.

Infrastructure is built to last. Building a strong framework is important for any project. Quality designs support and build safer communities. Throughout the design and constructability review process, quality construction inspection keeps projects on time and on budget.

Avoid future maintenance costs. Construction inspectors oversee the work and are responsible for anticipating risk, communicating with the contractor and documenting progress and possible construction or design issues for the owner.

Streamline inspection processes with GPS Rover. GPS Rover technology can be applied to improve efficiencies and track site coordinates and measurements for any project. By using GPS technology to track quantities, inconsistencies are reduced by transferring recorded field data and displaying on auto-generated plan sheets.

Eric has over 25 years of experience in road and bridge construction contract administration including quality management of bid-build and design-build projects over the past 18 years at MnDOT. He is certified in MnDOT, ACI, and University of Minnesota disciplines including bridge and ADA construction, and erosion control site management. He has managed several types of construction projects for MnDOT and various counties, most notably the 35W bridge replacement project. His commitment to bring all parties into a collective partnering atmosphere has provided resolutions to conflicts and project issues at a great reduction in project delays.

[email protected] | 507.601.7738

Zweig Group honors WSB with Marketing Excellence Awards and Hot Firm listing

The Zweig Group, the leading research, publishing and advisory services resource for the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, has honored WSB with four awards in marketing and overall firm growth.

Every year, the organization offers an awards program that specifically recognizes outstanding work within the AEC industry throughout North America.

Marketing Excellence Awards

Zweig recently announced the winners of the 2020 Marketing Excellence Awards for outstanding, results-driven marketing. Zweig awards the top five firms in each possible category. WSB ranked first place in two categories and second in another.

Award entries were judged by a team of marketing professionals and evaluated based upon overall creativity, messaging, results achieved by the campaign, and level of design.

External Newsletter | WSB Newsletter | 1st Place

The WSB Newsletter received a first-place award in the External Newsletter category and is our twice-yearly publication that we send to many of our clients. For nearly 10 years, WSB has mailed a newsletter highlighting projects, innovations, techniques and news. After our rebrand in 2018, we decided it was time to re-evaluate our newsletter strategy. We dedicate many of our resources to digital marketing and communications initiatives, but we still believe in the power of a well-done direct mail piece.

Internal Newsletter | Year In Review | 1st Place

The Year In Review received a first-place award in the Internal Newsletter category. The annual internal publication’s goal is simple – to tell the story of WSB to our staff. This year, we decided to take a unique approach to the assembly of our publication. We organized our content based on our firm values and wrote about our regional operations based on these values.

Internal Marketing | Intersection (WSB Internal Portal) | 2nd Place

WSB’s internal portal received a second-place award in the Internal Marketing category. WSB has always believed in creating a company culture that brings people together. As our firm expanded to 500 staff and 14 office locations across four states, we re-evaluated our internal communications to focus more heavily on sharing information and staying connected. The redesigned portal site offers an improved user experience featuring a mobile-friendly design, company directory, easy-to-access resources and enhanced search and navigation.

Hot Firm Award | #72

The Zweig Group announced the 2020 Hot Firm List in early July, honoring the fastest growing firms in the AEC industry. Firms are ranked based on three-year growth revenue, by both percentage and dollar growth. WSB ranked #72 on this year’s list marking our seventh consecutive year on the list.

Winners of the Marketing Excellence Awards and Hot Firm Award will be honored at the 2020 Elevate AEC Conference in Denver, CO, September 30-October 2 and at Zweig Group’s Virtual Elevate AEC Conference on October 16. Winners will also be featured in Zweig Group’s weekly management newsletter, The Zweig Letter, and Zweig Group’s other marketing channels.

The Complete list of Marketing Excellence Award Winners can be accessed here:  https://bit.ly/2W16Nxd. The complete list of Hot Firm winners can be accessed here: https://www.zweiggroup.com/2020-hot-firm-list/.

Main Street

3rd Quarter Budget Considerations for City/County Managers & Administrators

By Bart Fischer, Sr. Public Administrator, WSB

Obviously, it can’t be understated how difficult and challenging 2020 has been for our communities. Challenges usually bring opportunities and it is all in how we, as public administrators, are able to weave strategies together with these challenges and opportunities. That is what we are faced with year after year, month after month and week after week. Opportunities to provide solutions to unique challenges.

Budgets are a local government’s blueprint to fund community amenities and programs that are necessary to maintain and improve safe, healthy and thriving communities. They are one of the most important ways public administrators can influence creative solutions to the unique challenges public organizations face. That is why the theme of this piece is budget focused.

The summer months are when the “meat” of the budget process happens. As the September 30th deadline for the adoption of a preliminary levy approaches, elected officials and public administrators work hard to proactively project future revenues, evaluate services provided, identify priorities and needs, and come up with creative solutions and opportunities for these priorities.

During this particular time, it is also important to think about how COVID will affect future revenue, continued service provision and operations. As I have spoken with public administration colleagues, there seems to be a cautious optimism. Yes, there will likely be delinquent property tax payments as well as lower revenue from fees and sales taxes for those that have this revenue stream. However, lessons learned from the 2008 recession including ample reserves, calculated cuts and strategic human resource practices as well as the possibility of various stimulus packages, have many organizations prepared to weather this storm.

Some calculated cuts and strategic human resource practices being considered include not hiring seasonal staff, the cancellation of recreation programming and events, the cancellation of community-wide celebrations, offering early retirement buyouts to employees, not hiring for vacated positions, and closely evaluating health insurance and benefit packages.

This year’s budget process allows elected officials and public administrators to plan and implement equity, inclusion and social justice initiatives for the organization’s future. Providing a platform to truly listen to the needs and challenges of the entire community as well as be willing to adjust systems and service provisions based on listening to that feedback is vitally important now more than ever.

Focusing on the budget process in the 3rd quarter of the year should feel normal. The difference this year is the effects of COVID as well as the need to create and implement a plan that is equitable and inclusive for all now and in the future. A strategic and equitable approach to the budget process can lead to successful economic, equitable and healthy communities.

As you work to identify priorities during the 2020 budget process, know that WSB stands ready to assist you in proactively seeking solutions and opportunities for your challenges and needs.

Bart has been a City Administrator/Manager in the public sector for over 16 years. He is a strategic leader known for relationship development and connecting people around common themes and goals. Bart’s experience lies in leading and creating an organizational culture of collaboration where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

[email protected] | 651.286.8484

Changing Perspectives

By: Candace Amberg, Sr. Landscape Architect, WSB

Navigating recreational engagement efforts in a post-pandemic landscape.

The importance of parks and trails has become much more fundamental to our communities’ wellbeing since COVID-19 hit and stay at home orders were issued throughout the country. As an escape, many of us have explored parks, trails and green spaces near our homes more than ever before. How will this moment in time affect the value we place on these spaces? How will this change the way we design moving forward? How are perspectives shifting and what is the next recreational trend? While there are still many unknowns, as planners and designers we have a unique opportunity to better understand how we can create recreational opportunities while still accounting for safety measures through creative design.

A quick glance at the news or social media has the ability to instantly highlight differences in opinions, and I feel many of the issues that seem to drive us apart are based on a lack of understanding of the varying perspectives behind them.  As I am writing this article from my home office, I gaze out my window and see the colorful crabapples blossoms against a lush green landscape that is now exploding with life, something I have anxiously awaited all winter. Others may see this as a full-blown attack of pollen ready to aggravate their allergies and altering their ability to breathe or taste for the next few weeks. Same event, different experience and therefore, different perspective.

I also see a neighborhood that, much like the trees coming out of dormancy, is full of life and activity. I see families playing with their kids out on the street, I see more bikes on the roads than vehicles, and I see people flocking to the open spaces to get some piece of normalcy back into their daily routine, as well as for stress relief and a respite from home schooling. How is this changing the perspectives towards our parks, trails and open spaces?

I grew up on a farm in North Dakota and had ample open space all to myself. I didn’t fully understand the value of this space until I moved to Minneapolis. Here, I found dense populations with shared outdoor spaces, but I also found an abundance of renowned public parks, trails and scenic settings like I had never seen before – and trees! Have I mentioned we don’t have many trees in North Dakota?

I discovered that these thriving spaces were the direct result of devoted leaders who worked endlessly to develop high quality parks and trails, expanded recreational programs for diverse populations, built successful community centers, and preserved the natural resources that are fundamental to our Minnesota character. We can attribute many of the quality spaces we have today to their visionary work. Places to socialize, play, exercise, take in a walk, or just sit and watch the world go by.

Our collective group of designers and planners see this “time-out” as an opportunity to reach out to our community members and let them know that not only are we are here for them, but that we can work together to improve their quality of life. Now is the time to be the visionary leaders for the next generations and in order to do so, we must better understand the changing perspectives of the community through meaningful engagement.

While COVID-19 has made our engagement efforts slightly more challenging, we are starting with a great toolbox of methods to keep communication efforts strong. These methods will become even more important as we continue to navigate the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

A few examples include:

  • Interactive Project Maps: Interactive maps, such as Social Pinpoint, are not only convenient and easy to use, they also gather very detailed and relevant information that, in some instances, have aided our design process much more significantly than other engagement methods.
  • Story Maps: ArcGIS and ESRI Story Maps provide a visually appealing method to catch a user’s attention while portraying useful information, including tours, maps, and visual displays.
  • Social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook are a few examples of social media platforms that are being heavily used to reach audiences. They are a great tool to highlight awareness, bolster engagement, and gather quick ideas.
  • Videos: Anyone with a teen understands the TikTok and YouTube phenomenon. We have found success developing project videos as well as promoting them through social media spending to reach a broader, more targeted audience.
  • Virtual Meetings: Virtual meetings and presentations provide a great method to interact with task force groups, commissions, councils, etc., and can also reach a more flexible audience who can engage when and where it’s convenient for them.
  • Engagement Events: With a significant increase in park users during almost all days and times of the week, in-person engagement events that follow social distancing recommendations remain a valuable opportunity.

Let’s keep moving forward and take this moment to reach out to the community members, understand their perspectives and work with them to create tomorrow’s next successful project.

Candace is a registered Professional Landscape Architect in the states of Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas. She has been directly involved in a variety of landscape architectural projects related to parks, trails, system planning, streetscaping, natural resource management, and community engagement since 1996.

[email protected] | 763.231.4848

This article originally appeared in the Summer issue of Minnesota Recreation & Parks Magazine, https://issuu.com/designertp/docs/mrpa_summer_2020_issue_web.

25 stories for 25 years | Kian Sabeti

On October 5, 2020, WSB will celebrate our 25th year in business. Since 1995, we’ve added new service areas, expanded our reach and served our communities.  Throughout our tenure, our dedicated staff has been a constant.

In honor of our 25th year, we’ll be highlighting 25 stories of the people behind the projects.

Story 2 of 25

Kian Sabeti, Vice President of Strategy | Joined WSB in 2015

What do you think is special about celebrating 25 years as a company? 

Twenty-five years is a milestone that defines success.  It’s a testament to the founders staying true to their vision through a commitment to their clients, partners, and employees. Over this period of time, WSB has grown from a small, five-person firm to today’s 500-employee strong company. 

Time is often measured through events and WSB has weathered Y2K, the Great Recession, and now COVID-19, among others.  Each time coming out stronger, which speaks to the perseverance and agility of our staff and leadership to navigate headwinds. 

During my own five-year tenure, I have seen firsthand the fortitude and true leadership of how we responded to the COVID-19 crisis.

What is one thing you want to tell the future leaders of WSB? 

Challenge yourself, be authentic, be passionate, trust your instincts and stay humble. The hallmark of a true leader is to lift and recognize the talented people around you. Know that there is an army of people here to help you build our next great success story.

What about your work gives you energy?

Winning work and satisfying clients, while mentoring the next generation of leaders, gives me energy.

Winning projects is the fuel behind the WSB engine. Strategizing our course of action, assembling the right team and writing winning proposals positions WSB for success and allows our staff and company to grow and prosper.

Mentoring is more than the transfer of advice and knowledge. The satisfaction of sharing skills and experience and developing a relationship with a mentee provides pure joy and stokes the passion to work each day.

The Top 10 Challenges Public Water Systems Are Facing

With new technology and aging infrastructure, communities are adapting to unpredictable changes that affect their water management planning. From risk management to wastewater facility management, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 challenges public water systems are facing and the solutions we’re developing with our clients to solve them.


Many communities rely on water infrastructure that is over 50-years-old, leaving them more susceptible to contamination or water main breaks. To extend the lifespan of aging infrastructure, communities are replacing or modernizing their water systems. Some unique improvements include biological filtration systems or the development of smart water systems that use advanced controls.


The supply of water, one of our world’s most precious resources is one of the most critical issues facing metro areas with high consumption rates. Bustling communities are pumping more from their aquifers, resulting in lower water supplies. We’ve worked with many communities to locate new water sources and develop sustainable water practices and water supply plans that protect their resources and prepare them for future needs.


We often don’t think about groundwater, where it goes and where it comes from. For example, determining how wells will be impacted when implementing a new water source or mitigating a contaminated aquifer with groundwater modeling helps communities improve water system operations.


Public water systems must meet regulations enforced by the Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. Proactive contaminant management and testing are creating opportunities to better manage contaminants and resolve potential problems before they occur.


Understanding the age of a system, how it’s maintained and allocating funds for improvements help a community run more effectively. Developing an asset management plan supports all existing infrastructure within a community.


Many communities cannot make improvements without funding and are hesitant to raise their utility rates, and grants and funding opportunities can be scarce. Exploring potential resources, partnerships and non-traditional funding possibilities creates more access to capital.


Many communities are making great efforts to protect source water such as groundwater, wells, rivers or lakes from potential contamination. This is a progressive, preventive measure to sustain water supply. Creating a quality wellhead or source water protection plan is essential for protecting a community’s drinking water from potential contaminants.


In 2018, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act was signed into law. The law requires community public drinking water systems serving more than 3,300 people to complete or update their Risk & Resilience Assessment (RRA) and Emergency Response Plan (ERP). These plans help communities better understand where risks lie and how to prepare for the unexpected.


Many communities are working towards becoming green, sustainable, smart cities. Water supply plans evaluate conservation efforts while determining where efficiencies should be developed.


Reusing stormwater is a trend that has skyrocketed in recent years. Pumping stormwater into irrigation systems or other water reuse methods conserves water without tapping into the public water supply.

Defining Urban Design

Creating spaces for people.

By Erin Perdu, Director of Community Planning & Economic Development, WSB

How do we design for the urban environment? While the term “urban” may make you think of a concrete jungle with a bustling vibe of major U.S. cities like New York City and Los Angeles, an urban environment is any population center, from small towns to mid-sized cities and beyond. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 80% of Americans live in urban areas. By 2050, nearly 90% of Americans will live in cities. When we talk about urban design, we’re not just talking about skyscrapers and high-speed trains: we’re talking about designing for the communities where many of us already live.

As cities of all sizes are experiencing growth, communities are increasingly looking for thoughtful expertise to foster greater connections between people and places. This can include planning and zoning, economic development, architecture and landscape architecture, transportation and infrastructure, and many other factors that contribute to the look and feel of a space. Urban design can’t be defined by one discipline, project or service. WSB’s multidisciplinary team of professionals helps communities enhance their urban environments through public engagement and thoughtful, holistic design.


Urban design enhances the relationship between public and private spaces by considering a variety of issues, including some of the following questions:


Urban design starts with imagining the possibilities. Typically, we work with clients to create holistic visions for corridors, neighborhoods, and centers in both the public and private realm. We work together to shape cities, influence culture and focus visions.

Communities should look at a specific part of the urban environment they want to make better and take the opportunity to think bigger. Engaging the public in the initial stages is key to understanding how people interact with a place and how these interactions meet their expectations. This results in spaces that are functional, friendly and accessible to the community.

Urban design happens in a variety of places and scales – from a streetscape or alley to a neighborhood, to a district or an entire city. Urban designers create everything from small-scale plans to design guidelines to long-range plans for our communities.

We also consider the economics of the design to create projects that are sustainable, economically viable and even enhance economic productivity within a community. This is derived from conversations with landowners, businesses and developers within the private market that will partner with communities to create these places.

Beyond a single project or discipline, urban design is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach that enhances the environment by creating great spaces for people. Urban design relies on the wider context of an urban environment and all its components, including history, human behavior, infrastructure, the economy, climate, ecology, equity and sustainability. By planning with the wider context in mind, urban design creates people-centered places that raise the quality of life for everyone in the community.

Explore our Urban Design page to learn more.

Erin is a community planner and project manager with 22 years of professional planning experience in both the public and private sectors. She has worked as a staff planner and Community Development Director for multiple municipalities.

[email protected] | 763.287.8316