In February of 2015, CNNMoney named Structural Engineering as one of the 100 best jobs in America, with an estimated 20% growth over the next 10 years. For Luckett & Farley’s Josh Bullington, it’s a dream job for someone who grew up with an interest in shop classes and loved “to put things together.”
After graduating from Purdue in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, Bullington joined the Luckett & Farley team as a graduate engineer. “When I started my college career,” he explains, “I went into it thinking I wanted to be a mechanical or aeronautical engineer, but I realized a civil engineering-based degree was really my calling.” Recounts Bullington, “I’ve always had a lot of interest in the sciences, which tie into engineering.” Most importantly, he notes, “I was interested in buildings across the board, not just in their structure, but in an opportunity to work in close quarters with other disciplines to bring a building together.”
Embracing opportunities to do things right
Bullington grew up in Southern Indiana, an hour outside of Louisville. His familiarity with the city was one of the draws for seeking employment at Louisville based’s Architecture, Engineering, and Interior Design firm Luckett & Farley. The other draw was the company’s impressive history. Founded in 1853 as Rogers, Whitestone & Co., Architects, Luckett & Farley is the oldest continuously operating architecture firms in the United States. Explains Bullington, “I was looking at [this fact] as there’s stability there, and they’re doing things right.”
Bullington spent his first 5 years with the firm gaining experience by working under licensed structural engineers, before becoming licensed himself in 2011. This role entailed working as the lead engineer for certain projects and being the engineer of record on design drawings.
“A big project early on for me was the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium at the University of Louisville,” Bullington recalls. “I had the opportunity to work on putting in the new scoreboard, and it was cool to be involved in that. A couple years down the road, I got to be an important part of the structural design team for the stadium expansion, including the upper bowl and the south-end terrace.” Working on such a massive project was rewarding for Bullington, especially because the finished product is a major landmark for the city. “Whenever you drive down Interstate 65 you can see what we did,” he says.
Although Bullington is proud of his involvement with local landmarks, he doesn’t mind when his engineering work is more behind the scenes. “I’ve been involved with projects for Ford Motor Company, including the renovation of a Louisville assembly plant and a facility upgrade for a Kentucky Truck Plant,” he says. “These are industrial buildings,” he notes. “They aren’t glamorous, but this helps create jobs and really impacts our city.”
Greater responsibilities allow for greater impact
Within 4 years following his licensure, Bullington was promoted to senior structural engineer, which meant taking on more responsibilities as a project manager and overseeing multi-disciplinary projects in the industrial market. It also came with the task of being a mentor to newer graduate engineers in the department — a role Bullington welcomed.
In fact, the ability to mentor others is an opportunity of interest for many Luckett & Farley employees. The firm’s website notes, “[We] believe everyone has the opportunity — and the obligation — to think like an owner. We also believe that it is the informal, peer-to-peer leadership that makes a powerful impact on our continued growth and our culture.” This is the mindset that enabled Luckett & Farley to achieve its goal of 100% employee ownership in 2012, as well as what drives the new curriculum for the recently rebranded Luckett & Farley Ownership Institute.
Earlier this year, Bullington became a principal with the company. “The biggest thing here,” he says, “is the ownership mentality. Even before I became a principal and even before the company was 100% employee owned, there’s always been the mentality that, big or small, we all have an opportunity to impact the company.” He continues, “The company is very transparent, so everyone feels closely knit to what’s going on with the firm and like we have some physical level of ownership over what happens here and the work we’re producing. People here don’t feel like a number — what we’re doing is making a difference.”
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