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WSB Welcomes Rick Johnson, Vice President of Operations, to Leadership

February 28, 2024

Johnson’s addition elevates the firm’s national presence and operations across the country.

Rick Johnson

Oklahoma City, Okla. – Design and consulting firm WSB today announced the strategic hiring of Rick Johnson. Johson has joined WSB’s leadership as vice president of operations and is based out of the firm’s Oklahoma City office.

In this role, Johnson will support Jon Chiglo, WSB’s chief operating officer, in leading operations across the firm with a primary focus in Oklahoma. He improves operations, furthers project management and will integrate design and construction aspects in all regions moving forward. His guidance helps the firm build an even more consistent approach in its operations.

“Throughout his career, Rick has excelled in project management,” said Chiglo. “He has an extensive network in Oklahoma, and his local leadership ensures that we sustain our commitment to clients in the region. Rick’s collaborative efforts, attention to detail and ability to provide high-quality services make him very valuable to WSB and the future of this firm.”

Johnson holds 27 years of industry experience with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (DOT), including many years on leadership. Throughout his career, Johnson has lead project delivery and design. Some notable projects include the I-244 Arkansas River tri-bridge and State Highway 51 Cottonwood Creek accelerated bridge construction (ABC).

“I have a long history supporting projects throughout Oklahoma and the region,” said Johnson. “Seeing the growth, potential and drive WSB brings to the table made me very excited to join the firm. I look forward to supporting operations across WSB as we continue to forge ahead.”

WSB is growing across the U.S. supporting communities in every region. The firm acquired EST Inc. in fall of 2023 and recently acquired AE Engineering in early 2024.

Young Engineer of the Year Award 2023

Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers Recognizes Rachel Scheu with the 2023 Young Engineer of the Year Award

February 21, 2024

Each year, the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers (MnSPE) recognizes an outstanding individual with the Young Engineer of the Year Award. The recipient is selected based on their achievements of a licensed MnSPE member under the age of 35. We are proud to announce Rachel Scheu, Graduate Engineer, was selected as the 2023 recipient. Rachel was awarded this honor at the MnSPE Luncheon Awards on February 21.

Rachel was selected as the 2023 Young Engineer of the Year award for a variety of reasons. She supports municipalities with any civil engineering needs they may have, and she demonstrates many technical and soft skills. Rachel’s leadership among her peers also makes her an excellent choice. Not only did she serve on our internal LEAD committee, but she is also a member on the MnSPE Board of Directors and leads the Young Engineers committee group.

This is a great accomplishment for Rachel early in her career, and we are proud to have her on staff.


WSB, Minneapolis-Based Design and Consulting Firm, Announces Acquisition of AE 

February 20, 2024

AE’S strong footprint solidifies WSB’s presence in the Southeast U.S. 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — WSB LLC (“WSB”), one of the nation’s fastest growing infrastructure engineering and consulting firms, today announced the acquisition of AE Engineering, Inc. (“AE”), a high-growth transportation infrastructure engineering firm based in Jacksonville, Florida. The strategic addition of AE will solidify WSB’s presence and service offerings in the southeastern United States. WSB is a portfolio company of GHK Capital Partners LP (“GHK”), a leading middle-market private equity firm based in Greenwich, CT.

“WSB is moving forward in building a national brand,” said Bret Weiss, WSB’s president and chief executive officer. “The Southeast is an important market for transportation infrastructure engineering given the significant population growth and infrastructure investment present in the region.  AE has an outstanding reputation, and their leaders match our culture with their approach and entrepreneurial spirit.  We are eager to build on the success of AE by introducing expanded services to complement their already successful program.”  

The acquisition of AE brings 13 offices and more than 170 employees into WSB across the Southeast. Combined, WSB now operates 49 offices with more than 1,250 employees nationwide to serve its clients across the government, commercial and energy markets.  

“WSB is a strong and growing firm that is an excellent match for AE and our clients,” said Rod Myrick, AE’s president. “We’ve always tried to represent the best in the industry and to be a trusted asset to our clients and partners.  AE is joining a firm with that same commitment.  We are eager to build on the strengths and success of WSB by introducing expanded services to complement our existing operation in Florida and throughout the Southeast.”   

WSB and AE will work together to develop a single go-to market approach as WSB in the coming months. This represents WSB’s second acquisition in the last twelve months. In September 2023, the firm acquired Oklahoma-based EST, a 350-person transportation infrastructure engineering firm. 

About WSB  

WSB, a design and consulting firm providing engineering, planning, environmental and construction services. Its staff improves the way people engage with communities, transportation, infrastructure, energy and our environment. WSB offers services in more than 50 complementary areas to seamlessly integrate planning, design and implementation. Its coast-to-coast client base is served from 49 offices in 9 states. WSB’s staff is inspired to look beyond today and capitalize on the opportunities of tomorrow. Guided by a strong vision and an authentic passion, WSB is a company that strives to forge ahead. To learn more, visit 

About AE

AE Engineering, Inc. (AE) is a client-focused transportation infrastructure engineering firm founded in 2006, and provides professional services to governmental agencies including State, County and City, as well as private sector clients. Headquartered in Jacksonville, FL, AE’s core capabilities include Construction Engineering & Inspection (CEI), Civil Engineering, Construction Management, Laboratory & Materials Testing, Contractor Quality Control (CQC), Asset & Infrastructure Maintenance, Building Inspection and Planning services.

About GHK Capital Partners LP

GHK is a leading middle-market private equity firm focused on making control investments in industrial companies across North America. More information about GHK and our team is available on our website

WSB Branded Backgrounds

WSB Strengthens Leadership Team by Adding Two Directors to Growing Transportation Team

Robert Doty and Brittney Davis expand the firm’s leadership team and capabilities.

February 15, 2024

Minneapolis, Minn –Design and consulting firm WSB announced the expansion of leadership within their firm. Robert Doty has been hired as director of transportation design, and Brittney Davis has joined as director of transportation planning. The addition of these roles place WSB in a strong position as they continue to support infrastructure needs across the state of Texas. 

“Robert is key to our growth as we strive to expand our national presence,” said David Balmos, vice president of strategy. “He is well-rounded with backgrounds in planning, design, business development and community relations. His leadership will help our transportation division excel. We know we have to have the right people to succeed, and we have found that in Robert.”

Doty joins WSB with over 24 years of experience and an extensive history in the Houston market. He supports WSB with design within Houston and the surrounding areas and business in the Government market. His technical background and leadership are valuable to the firm.

“I was drawn to WSB because of the possibilities and the people,” said Doty. “Every interaction I have had with the staff proves they are excited to make a difference. I look forward to the future of this firm, and I am excited to be part of it.”

WSB also welcomes Brittney Davis to the Texas transportation leadership team. She has taken the role of director of transportation planning, specializing on federal projects requiring the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). With over 15 years of experience in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry and a primary focus in NEPA, she brings immense value to WSB.

“The stars aligned when hiring Brittney,” said Steve Lindsey, director of transportation design. “Her expertise provides a tremendous opportunity to better support our clients and complements our existing staff and services well. Her hiring falls in line with our goal of expanding nationally, and we are excited to see the bright future of WSB with the addition of her experience and guidance.”

Davis assists with increasing environmental transportation projects in Texas and provides mentorship for emerging leaders and young professionals.

“I am excited to be here,” said Davis. “I have only heard great things about WSB from friends and clients, and after meeting current staff— I knew this was a position I wanted to take. I look forward to pursuing work and continuing to build the impressive legacy of WSB.”

WSB recently acquired engineering firm EST, a design firm headquartered in Oklahoma City with a strong presence in north Texas. Adding staff, offices, regions and a handful of services, WSB continues to expand on a national level. The firm’s presence across the United States includes increased collaboration and services to better support communities and advance infrastructure.

Brittney Davis
Director of Transportation Planning
[email protected] | 281.850.2836

Robert Doty
Director of Transportation Design
[email protected] 

WSB Construction

WSB Elevates Leadership within Construction Division

The firm expands leadership opportunities with the promotions of Chris Kester and Mark Watson.

February 15, 2024

Minneapolis, Minn – WSB, a forward-thinking design and consulting firm, announced today they have expanded leadership in the construction division. Chris Kester has been promoted to director of project controls and Mark Watson has been promoted to director of materials engineering.

The promotions of Kester and Watson support WSB as the firm grows its national presence. Kester and Watson both have many years of experience in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, bringing immense value to the firm.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Chris to grow the team,” said Andy Kaiyala, vice president of technology & controls. “In this role, he will connect design and construction, creating a solid foundation to better support our clients. He is well-positioned to provide leadership in this new role at WSB.”

Kester has worked in the AEC industry for nearly 15 years with a background in field work, estimating responsibilities and more. Combined with the Digital Construction Management team, Kester focuses on delivering new methods and procedures, discovering how things are most effectively built and employing tools to optimize projects.

“We are uncovering what the future of the industry looks like,” said Kester. “This is an exciting time to work in the AEC industry. I look forward to using these advancements to serve communities across the U.S.”

Watson oversees quality management of materials for heavy civil, commercial, and vertical construction projects. In this role, he supports pre-letting services, design and post-letting construction related to material and quality control.

“It’s fulfilling to work toward expanding the role of field services at WSB,” said Watson. “My career began in materials, so I am eager to focus more attention on this area.”

“Mark has an extensive background in materials, design and construction— he’s very diverse,” said Mike Rief, senior vice president, construction. “Combining his experience with his passion and drive for his work sets up the construction division for success.”

Kester and Watson bring industry experience, strengthening WSB’s construction division. As WSB continues to grow, their leadership is a major asset to the firm.

Chris Kester
Director of Project Controls
[email protected] | 651.492.3853

Mark Watson
Director of Materials Engineering
[email protected] | 612.248.9365

Developing Resilient Transportation Systems with Emergency Traffic Management Plans

February 12, 2024
By Saeed Sobhi, Regional Design Manager, WSB

Emergencies will happen. Disasters will happen. Communities must have thorough plans in place to prepare for and respond to a multitude of potential emergencies, ensuring public safety and preservation of property.

As communities face more extreme weather and other climate change related events such as fire, flooding, and mudslides, exploring resiliency and sustainability of assets and advance planning in emergency response and evacuation are critical. Will a road or a bridge need to be expanded? Are current facilities like local schools capable of providing shelter during an emergency? If tragedy strikes and thousands of vehicles need to go through one road to evacuate, can that path handle the strain? Are communication tools and protocols in place to effectively and efficiently notify residents to give them instructions? Do response agencies have the proper tools and resources? Properly developing emergency response traffic management plans is critical to safety.

Recent investments from the federal government like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) have provided renewed opportunities for becoming more resilient to extreme weather events, but also to tackle sustainability goals. For example, the IIJA provided $110 billion for repairing and updating infrastructure. In the process of constructing an emergency response plan, roads and bridges and other key infrastructure that require updating can be noted allowing the city or county governments to apply for this newly accessible aid. The IIJA also provided an additional $50 billion with the explicit goal of making infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events. The combination of these types of investments both in repairs and weatherizing updates provides ample opportunity for communities to take initiative in formulating emergency response/traffic management plans and ensuring their infrastructure will hold up in the face of disaster.

Here are some ways that communities can think about building robust emergency response plans that are smart and sustainable.

Think About Roadways

Just as the average student grows up learning where to go during a fire drill, a community needs a clear picture of how to respond in case of an emergency. This is where an emergency response plan comes in.

Using Colorado as an example, communities faced severe natural fires, flooding, and mudslide events that required extensive response work and evacuations. Communities in mountainous regions are especially susceptible as a severe mudslide can cut off road access. The size of these recent events and the damage caused has led more communities to recognize the need for sustainability and resiliency measures both to defend themselves from climate related disasters, but also to attempt to prevent future events. Proper design, routine inspection and systematic maintenance of roads and bridges is a key component of preparedness.

Preparedness also requires detailing clear evacuation routes and easily accessible paths for emergency responders. Making note of not only the best currently available paths, but also what areas may be improved or expanded. If a specific bridge is developed to include additional lanes for traffic, would it become a higher priority evacuation route? Also, are there roads where counterflow can be implemented to expedite evacuation? Having a detailed perspective of the roadway system and its capabilities is tantamount in emergency planning.

Navigate Available Facilities and Capabilities

Environmental threats can come in a wide variety of forms like power outages during freezing temperatures, wildfires that encroach on communities, or heavy rains that flood residential areas. These environmental hazards, among others, are affecting people and communities all over the country. One matter that all of these have in common is what happens once people have evacuated? These abnormal weather events like the recent freezing temperatures and power outages in Texas reveal a greater need for facilities that can handle the strain of housing evacuees and are designed with the goal in mind of weathering the storm.

Emergency plans need to include the capabilities for people to reach shelter, but also the ability for facilities to handle becoming a shelter. Event centers or schools are evaluated on how many people they can accommodate as an impromptu evacuation shelter. Do the facilities have enough capacity and the necessary amenities like cooling or heating systems? Knowing a facility can provide space and heating when a nearby residential area faces power outages in subzero temperatures will be a life saver.

Collaborate to Build Success

The resiliency of emergency planning requires collaboration across local governments. The different stakeholders in the development of an emergency plan include local city government, city emergency responders like police and fire rescue, the state’s department of transportation, neighboring municipalities that share the primary roads and bridges used during evacuations, and counties for when the plans extend beyond the reach of one individual community.

Collaborative efforts come in the forms of understanding what equipment is available for communicating during emergencies or for emergency responders to properly respond. On many occasions the local department of transportation holds jurisdiction over specific roadways or can aid in developing plans for parking and access to highways. These evacuation zones can be made digital so communication is fluid through the various agencies and the residents affected can be notified as soon as possible.

How WSB Can Help

With more attention being placed on sustainability and eco-friendly construction projects, attention should be given to maintaining and improving resiliency for the growing number of extreme weather events brought on by climate change. From designing sustainable infrastructure to helping communities create in-depth emergency management plans, WSB is here to help.

Our team has rich experience covering a variety of specialties that can help communities prepare. Our team has meaningful experience developing and supporting implementation of incident management plans and emergency traffic management response plans, as well as facilitating collaboration and consensus building among stakeholders.

Saeed has 25 years of experience with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) where he worked on transportation planning, project design and delivery, transportation system management and operations, planning for operations, incident management, traffic engineering, and asset management and maintenance. He has special interest and focus on Transportation System Management and Operations (TSM&O), and application of technology in Transportation..

[email protected] | 720.512.2891

Making Public Infrastructure a Catalyst for Economic Development and Community Prosperity

Making Public Infrastructure a Catalyst for Economic Development and Community Prosperity

February 6, 2024

By Jay Kennedy, Vice President, WSB

In the vast landscape of economic development, one key piece often remains hidden in plain sight: infrastructure. It’s not just about building roads and bridges; it’s about constructing the foundation for thriving communities and enticing businesses to bring jobs and investment.

Communities that invest in infrastructure with an eye to the future ensure they are the place that people and businesses want to be. Infrastructure is the lifeline that sustains economic progress. From utilities to public transportation to drinking water facilities, when these essential components are robust, designed with intention to the future and well-maintained, they create a fertile ground for businesses and communities to thrive.

Communicating with Businesses & Planning for the Future

The ‘build it and they will come’ approach, although powerful, isn’t the sole ingredient for sustainable growth. Communities need to actively engage with businesses and create an environment that welcomes investment.

Businesses looking for a community in which to invest can bring millions, sometimes even billions of dollars with them. Effective communication between communities and businesses is critical when it comes to infrastructure development. When local leaders say, “we are open for business,” they need the infrastructure and planning to back it up. 

When communities have plans that account for future development, population growth and supporting infrastructure, businesses can see a vision of why they should place their investment in that community.  

Relieving Infrastructure Stress & New Opportunities

There are also situations where upgrades and redesign can alleviate pressure on existing infrastructure and open new opportunities. Improving efficiency in public transportation and redirecting traffic from small community roads to major roadways, for example, can benefit both residents and local businesses. What starts off as one project opens the door for developers wanting to be a part of an up-and-coming area.

As infrastructure pressure is relieved and economic growth continues, it is critical to have a dedicated team that can manage an expanding community. It sends the message that the community is dedicated to growth, attracting even more investment.   

The Ideal Community: Balancing Residential and Commercial Zones

An ideal community strikes a balance between residential and commercial land uses, as well as public spaces. People prefer to live close to work and amenities. A blend of both residential and commercial spaces not only enhances convenience for residents but also attracts businesses looking for a customer base and workforce in proximity.

Collaborating Across the State and Region

Cities looking at their long-term community plans must ensure they also align with county-level planning and broader regional plans. Cooperation and coordination among various levels of government means that an infrastructure project is not operating in a silo, but instead part of a larger plan to drive people and businesses to the region.

How WSB Can Help

In Texas and beyond, the success of public infrastructure projects and planning is driving economic development. WSB is playing a pivotal role in communities throughout Texas, where expertise in smart infrastructure planning and execution has significantly reduced stress on resources while actively attracting businesses to the area.

WSB’s team can help with everything from community planning to public engagement to designing major infrastructure projects and more. We can help your community find ways to bolster economic growth and build infrastructure that fosters the long-term success of your community and region. 

Jay is a Vice President leading Texas operations. He has over 30 years of experience overseeing the management, planning, coordination, design and construction of municipal and civil engineering projects. He works with staff and clients seeking new business opportunities and developing local staff.

[email protected] | 512.518.1819