Client Focused and Business as Usual

Client Focused and Business As Usual

 

By Ron Wathen, PE

 

A message From president & CEO

March 24, 2020

External Message to Clients, Teaming Partners and Vendors

Last Thursday March 19, 2020, as Governor Newsom implemented a shelter in place policy, simultaneously QK was transitioning to a fully remote workforce (TELEWORK).  Given the implications of the COVID-19 public health crisis and the need for reducing the spread, QK has the ability to work effectively with YOU (our clients and Agency Partners) through Microsoft Teams and other collaboration software from a remote work environment.  Our remote workforce and use of collaboration technology allows QK to advance your projects and maintain a safe work environment during this unprecedented time.

QK remains focused on YOUR projects, deliverables and schedules.  Through utilizing a team approach with our clients and agency partners, I know we can continue through this difficult public health crisis together!  With that in mind, I want to share the following:

  • QK is open for business, our teams are working remotely and ready to continue serving you.
  • Our focus is on your project: The times have changed but our focus remains the same and that is getting your project completed and providing innovative solutions to your needs.
  • We continue to be one connected team with our clients and agency partners.  We are available to meet using Microsoft Teams, other video conferencing tools as needed to keep you connected.
  • QK can still be contacted via office phone, cell phones, email, or text at any time.  QK is committed to making this transition and collaboration easier for everyone.
  • Our field operations will CONTINUE for construction observation, biological monitoring and land surveying and YES, we are practicing appropriate social distancing practices for a safe work environment.
  • WE CAN DO THIS!

Whether it’s project specific or something we can do to support your overall organization, we are here for you.

A Decade Of Community Service

A decade of community service

 

By Mike Ratajski

 

Extreme Makeover: Home Addition

 

QK and its team members have been active participants in community service activities in the central valley for more than a decade. There are numerous reasons why we should volunteer. Studies show that volunteers are happier and healthier than non-volunteers. Volunteers establish strong relationship. Volunteering is good for your career and good for society.  Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose.  Many QK’ers have offered time and energy to make the communities they live in a better place for their neighbors and, in many instances, total strangers, some of whom they may never meet.   The following represents a decade of our volunteer activities.

In August 2019, several Clovis QK’ers braved the brutal summer heat and helped build a new home from the ground up for a deserving family in Clovis. A local fireman lost his wife during childbirth and was forced to raise his children, with the help of their grandmother, in the small space they live in. With the leadership and generosity of DeYoung Properties, a new home was built complete with in-ground swimming pool and playhouse for the kids.   Not many QK staff members know this, but a decade earlier, QK helped build a home in central Fresno for the remake of that same television show in 2009. Led again by our generous client, De Young Properties, QK was involved with assisting 5,000 volunteers who demolished a 1955 ranch home that was in serious need of repair and renovations. The homeowner, born without legs and only one fully developed arm, needed a wheelchair friendly home for her and her four children. This project began a decade long list of community involvement and public services that QK has been unselfishly engaged.

I spoke with members of the QK team who helped the television show achieve a better environment for the homeowner, and here is what they remember about that event. Jessica Louie: “It was a very cold day as we waited for the television crew to set up and film the episode. The QK volunteers arrived early in the morning and spent the entire winter day shivering while waiting for the big reveal…and I never met Ty Pennington”. She added, “I saw him, but never met him”. Scott Zaayer: “De Young Properties was the true hero here. They devoted an incredible amount of time and resources for the new home”. He added, “We had to jump through hoops just to get the house staked on the lot.” The home was completed in less than ten days from tear down to opening day. The new home was one of the earliest in Fresno that included a solar energy system cutting electricity use by 75 percent.

Ace

 

The ACE Mentor Program is an afterschool program that introduces students to careers in architecture, construction management, and engineering and oftentimes, other related disciplines. QK’s involvement with ACE mentorship began in 2011 and ended in 2014. I first became involved with ACE in 2012 teaching the students at Edison High School in southwest Fresno all about planning. Other mentors assisted with engineering, architecture, construction, estimating, and even biology. The Aquarius Aquarium Institute, a 501(c)(3) organization, establishes environmental teaching programs utilizing aquariums to help bring educational parity to central San Joaquin Valley students and citizens of all backgrounds and cultural groups in addition to being the organization behind the Fresno Aquarium project. A ten-acre site was donated at the intersection of the San Joaquin River and Highway 99 – a gateway entry site to the City of Fresno. In 2011, the Fresno Aquarium became the selected project to be studied by the Edison High students. The students developed 3-D models and presented their projects at a special event hosted by the Central California Builders Exchange. The previous project was the Dickey Park Youth Center near downtown Fresno. Following the aquarium project, students later chose to select their own projects for detailed studies. The selected project in 2013-14 was a Family Entertainment Center, an all-in-one arcade that included golf carts, video arcade, trampolines, batting cages, laser tag and more. Teaching high school students all about planning, architecture, engineering, and construction can be a rewarding experience.

 

Lowell Community Gardens

In 2012, QK worked with City of Fresno, Caltrans, PG&E and the Fresno Metro Ministry to develop a community garden for the Lowell neighborhood north of downtown Fresno. QK provided the preliminary site plan, topographic survey, grading plan, permitting, irrigation plans, construction staking, and even helped with construction of the facility. Designed with raised beds for the disabled and thirty garden plots, the community garden “brought people from different walks of life together” and “helped the community spirit bloom” said PG&E representatives. The gardens won a 2012 Green Dot Award in the Service category for designing a resource for green living and a 2012 San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Award of Excellence.

Caltrans State Roadway Clean-Up

In 2012, QK worked with City of Fresno, Caltrans, PG&E and the Fresno Metro Ministry to develop a community garden for the Lowell neighborhood north of downtown Fresno. QK provided the preliminary site plan, topographic survey, grading plan, permitting, irrigation plans, construction staking, and even helped with construction of the facility. Designed with raised beds for the disabled and thirty garden plots, the community garden “brought people from different walks of life together” and “helped the community spirit bloom” said PG&E representatives. The gardens won a 2012 Green Dot Award in the Service category for designing a resource for green living and a 2012 San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Award of Excellence.

Imagine U Children's Museum

The Imagine U Children’s Museum is located one block east of the transit center in the City of Visalia. The museum first opened its doors in October 2015 with a mission to inspire children through interactive educational experiences by providing multicultural, hands-on learning through the sciences, environmental conservation, and the arts. By empowering children and their families in a fun environment, they seek to transform lives and enhance the community. The 15,000-square-foot building was paid for by a $5.4 million Proposition 84 grant.  The facility, known for its indoor tree house and kid’s auto repair clinic, is in need to expand for additional interactive activities in its outdoor space.   The 18,000 square foot outdoor space represents a great opportunity for the facility to expand as its membership grows. Led by Ron Wathen, QK CEO, Dan Garber, Steve Brandt, and I assisted in the conceptual planning for the unique outdoor space. An additional 15,000 square feet east of this space represents another opportunity for future expansion. The QK Team prepared a plan in late 2018 that includes an outdoor amphitheater, barn, maze, themed play equipment, and unique bio-fuel exhibit so children can learn about energy alternatives at an early age. The project is currently seeking funding.

Much More

These five projects represent specific activities or events. We won’t overlook the many QK staff members who took the initiative to run a charity drive or fund-raising activity and the many employees who donated. In addition, every Christmas season, needy children and families have seen our QK Team fill the boxes in our lobbies with generous toys and gifts that have put smiles on local faces for many years. QK has truly been a leader in volunteerism and charity drives. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of the generous giving of time, money, clothing, food, and toys. Lets keep up the great work!

Harry A. Tow, PE, AICP – A Visalia Legend

Harry A. Tow, PE, AICP

 

By Mike Ratajski

 

A Visalia Legend

It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we share the peaceful passing of QK co-founder Harry Tow, PE, AICP. He was 94 years old.

Throughout his 48 years at Quad, Quad Knopf, and now QK, Harry shared his insight and wisdom with those of us who had the privilege to work with him. He was an incredible mentor, friend, and positive influence, and was devoted to service of his community through his consulting work, literally for as long as possible.

Over the last 60+ years, Harry established an extraordinary record of service to our Central Valley community as a city official, professional engineer and planner, business owner, mentor, and church, and community leader. He has been recognized for his professional skills in civil engineering, environmental planning and city management, as well as his personal contributions in leading young adults and passion for creating economic growth in the Central Valley.

As an ASCE Lifemember (ASCE member since 1974), Harry was a tireless ambassador for the engineering community.  He served on many boards and engineering committees with professional organizations where service to the ASCE organization was leveraged ten-fold by his professionalism and involvement with other services to his profession.

Harry had been on the water engineering front decades before the California water crisis and was a key member of the State Water Resources Control Board (the “old” statewide unpaid board, which included representatives from industry, districts, environmental community, etc. and preceded the present structure). He was also:

  • Chair of the League of Cities Environmental Committee
  • President of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA, previously known as WDCF)
  • President of the Water Environment Federation (WEF)
  • A Lifemember of APWA as well as long-time member of environmental and planning organizations

As a child in 1938, Harry moved with his parents to Long Beach, CA, from his small town of Marshalltown, Iowa. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Navy V-12 fliers program while concurrently attending university. Harry graduated with a bachelor’s degree from USC in civil engineering in 1947, as well as a master’s degree in 1952 in the same field.

After receiving his undergraduate degree, Harry secured his first professional employment with the County of Ventura as an assistant hydraulic engineer in 1947. Within a year, he had advanced to the City of Los Angeles as a design engineer, and provided supplemental design work to the private international firm of Daniel, Mann, Johnson, and Manderhall.

In 1956, Harry and his family moved to Visalia, where he remained a public employee as the City Engineer. In 1958, Harry became the City Manager for Visalia, where he remained for 14 years. Harry’s tenure as a City Manager included the revitalization of downtown. The emphasis on preserving downtown during Harry’s time as City Manager was very important because that was when downtown was first being challenged economically by the first shopping centers and malls along Hwy 198 and Mooney Blvd. in Visalia.

Harry Tow’s tenure as a City Manager for Visalia oversaw incredible improvements and development for the community. Along with a number of dedicated city councils and exceptional staff members, Harry was instrumental in helping to shape the community as it stands today. Among the achievements that he takes pride for his share in their evolution are: the successful creation of the downtown Visalia convention center; the transfer of Kaweah Delta Hospital from the City to the Kaweah Delta Hospital District and the further development and expansion of the current facility; the revitalization of the North Visalia community; the preliminary steps to protect, preserve, and revitalize the City’s downtown area, as well as provide crucial parking capacity.

Even though Harry’s schooling was in engineering, he is also an expert in California environmental law (CEQA) and earned his AICP certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners. He had been preparing EIRs since CEQA first became law in 1970 for projects throughout the Central Valley as diverse as hospitals, shopping centers, colleges, large dairies, and manufacturing complexes. He used his engineering and planning expertise to help lay the groundwork for City’s plan policy and the development of the Plaza Regional Park Facility.

Eventually, in 1972, Harry left the City and co-founded Quad Consulting to provide engineering, planning, and management assistance to both public and private clients. In 1998, Quad merged with Knopf Engineering and formed what is now operating as QK (an employee owned company) with offices in Visalia, Clovis, Merced, Bakersfield and Porterville. Harry continued his lifelong mentorship to others while continuing working almost full time as a Principal Engineer and Environmental Planner until the age of 94.

Harry gave selflessly of his time and experience by helping people in the art of professionalism and ethical practices.

During the formation of Quad Knopf, Harry took a firm stand of the ethics and values that one must possess while representing a client as a City Engineer or a hired consultant. With the Board of Directors, they established that the company would operate as “uncompromisingly ethical” in all business endeavors. At times when contracts were vague or lines were unclear, the guidance that Harry provided centered on the question “which decision is morally sound?” Harry would rather lose business or profit than compromise the integrity of the firm or the staff employed.

As a community member, Harry instilled these ethics into our youth as a Boy Scout Cub master and committee member of a local service club-sponsored troop.  His enduring mark is imprinted on the lives of all who were fortunate enough to work with him.

In addition to his lifelong leadership with the Boy Scouts, Harry served on the board for the College of the Sequoias Foundation, Kaweah Delta Hospital Foundation, St Paul’s Episcopal School, and Diocese of Camp San Joaquin. He was also the former President of the Tulare County Industrial Park, Visalia Rotary Club, and San Joaquin Valley City Manager’s Association.

Harry and his high school sweetheart, Shirley, were married for 73 years. Together they had three sons; their late son John, Bill who resides in Australia and works as the head of the Department of International Relations and University of Australia, and Robert who owns an electronics business in Three Rivers, CA.

Harry left an incredible legacy – one our Central Valley community will forever be grateful for. We will miss him very much and cherish the time that we worked alongside him.

Thank you, Harry. For everything.

Happy 94th to a Visalia Legend, QK’S Own Harry Tow!

Happy 94th to a Visalia Legend, OK's Own Harry Tow!

 

By QK

 

Happy 94th Birthday Harry

 

You might have heard that QK founder Harry Tow, PE celebrated his 94th Birthday last week.  In recognition of Harry’s many contributions to QK and the City of Visalia, the tribute below was run in the Visalia Times-Delta newspaper on Saturday, March 14th.   The tribute was funded in partnership between QK and the Kaweah Delta Medical Center (which Harry formed while in his role as the Visalia City Manager).

It is a fun read with some nostalgic photos and great memories.

Happy 94th Birthday Harry!!

Thank you for all you have done as a part of our team and as a business leader for QK and the City of Visalia.

 

Covid-19 Message to Clients, Partners, and Friends

Covid-19 Message to Clients, Partners, and Friends

 

By Ron Wathen, PE, President & CEO

 

Covid-19

To our clients, partners, and friends,

Our mission at QK is to be an indispensable partner to our clients, communities and each other.  With the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), we recognize that many daily activities continue to be disrupted.  At QK, we embrace our role in minimizing the negative impacts of COVID-19. Our highest priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, clients, and vendors, as well as families and friends. This communication outlines measures implemented in order to do our part to help contain the outbreak while maintaining service to our clients.

QK intends to continue working on projects, meet deadlines and deliverables, and more importantly, reach your vision for your projects.  We have a fluid and flexible workforce that is fully equipped to work offsite as needed.  This capability will help us continue to serve you as we all work together to get through this public health issue. We will continue to serve you as always with your best interest in mind.

In addition, QK is taking the following steps to urge staff to proactively observe the following health guidance to prevent the virus spread:

  • All employees have been educated about proper hygiene and social distancing.
  • We have reduced in-person meetings, opting instead for video and audio conferencing as the norm.
  • We have educated staff on the latest CDC guidance on best practices to prevent the virus spread.
  • We have minimized or stopped all non-essential travel. Travel considered essential must be pre-approved.
  • QK is also advising employees to avoid large gatherings and implement social distancing.

We thank you for your continued partnership.  We feel confident that together, we will get through this public health event and come out stronger on the other side. 

We look forward to remaining an indispensable partner to you, our communities and each other. 

Respectfully,

Ron Wathen, PE
President & CEO

2019 Notice of Funding Availability: Local Early Action Planning (LEAP) Grants Programs

2019 Notice of Funding Availability

 

By John Quiring

 

Local Early Action Planning (LEAP) Grants Program

 

Many jurisdictions have applied for and received assistance under the SB2 Planning Grants program. In a continuation of the State’s efforts to expand housing production, a group of programs were passed under the Local Government Planning Support program passed in the last budget. A key feature of this package of programs is the LEAP grants program described below.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development is pleased to announce the release of this Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for approximately $119,040,000 as part of the Local Early Action Planning Grants Program (LEAP or Program). The Program provides funding to jurisdictions for the preparation and adoption of planning documents, process improvements that accelerate housing production, and facilitate compliance in implementing the sixth cycle of the RHNA.

Program Timeline Grants will be available to eligible applicants on a noncompetitive, Over-the Counter (OTC) basis. Applications will be accepted from the date of the release of this NOFA until July 1, 2020.

NOFA Application Webinar: February 14, 2020
NOFA Application Workshops: February and March 2020
Final Due Date for OTC Applications: July 1, 2020

The maximum amount that a jurisdiction may receive shall be as follows:

Jurisdiction Size (in pop)        Maximum Award Amount
750,000 or greater                              $1,500,000
300,000 to 749,999                             $750,000
100,000 to 299,999                             $500,000
60,000 to 99,999                                 $300,000
20,000 to 59,999                                 $150,000
Less than 20,000                                 $65,000

The list of eligible activities is lengthier than those allowed under SB2 Planning grants. Actual activities can be found on pages 5-6 of the NOFA found at the NOFA web link below. Full application package is now available at the website below.

LEAP Resource Page: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/grants-funding/active-funding/leap.shtml

LEAP NOFA Page: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/grants-funding/active-funding/leap/docs/LEAP_Final_Clean.pdf

For further information, please contact John Quiring, QK’s Director of Community Development and Infrastructure Funding, at (559) 449-2400 or John.Quiring@qkinc.com.

 

QK Wins ACEC California Engineering Excellence Commendation Award

QK Wins ACEC California Engineering Excellence Commendation Award

 

By QK

 
 

American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) CA

 

Visalia, CA – Quad Knopf, Inc. (dba QK) is happy to announce our selection for an American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) California Engineering Excellence Commendation Award.

The profession of land surveying has experienced a technological sea-change. The latest new technology to emerge in the mapping world is UAV/UAS. UAV stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone), referring to the aircraft itself, while UAS stands for Unmanned Aerial Systems.

QK is harnessing this technology to advance the civil engineering and land surveying professions, as well as reduce our clients’ bottom line, and we currently employ nine (9) FAA Licensed Part 107 Commercial UAV Pilots.

We used this UAS in the area of Rexland Acres, a disadvantaged community located just south of Bakersfield in Kern County, California which needed a topographic map, hydrology and hydraulic reports, and preliminary design for the future Rexland Acres Community Sidewalk Improvement Project.

There were several underlying components to the project that resulted in the decision to use UAS in addition to traditional surveying methods: the size of the area encompasses more than 400-acres, and the overall project has a limited budget, and every dollar saved in the initial survey could be diverted to construction of the much-needed infrastructure improvements. By incorporating UAS technology, and using modified drones to obtain enhanced aerial imagery, QK was able to drastically reduce the number of man hours required in the field, thereby saving money, and increasing the safety of our field crews.

 
 

One additional project for which this technology was incorporated was the Sequoia Springs Water slides addition to Visalia Adventure Park in Visalia, CA. For this project, QK used more than just standard UAV technology available to everyone. QK surveyors attached a Real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning unit to our drone. At the time, in April 2018, manufacturers weren’t making drones with capability of achieving the level of accuracy we felt was necessary for the project. As a result, our surveyors innovated and improvised by purchasing a 3rd party RTK unit so that we could obtain extremely accurate geotags.

UAS technology provides a significant impact to the engineering and construction fields for years to come. With better and more accurate data, the design, plans, specifications, and estimates on the deliverables end of a project, are much more accurate. The traditional deliverables to the client can be supplemented with highly detailed imagery, and we can also provide new deliverables, like 3D models of a site, GIS-based products, and dense point clouds if needed. All the while having drastically reduced client costs during survey with minimal crew time spent in the field.

The team at QK is proud to be recognized by ACEC California for our work in developing these innovative advancements and we look forward to continuing to serve our communities with this technology in the future.

For more information on QK’s UAV/UAS Services see below.

  • Do I really need a Land Surveyor’s license for that?
  • More information on Advanced UAS