The walls and tables inside Woodson Engineering & Surveying on North Elden Street are covered with large technical drawings, evidence of the scope of the many planning and engineering projects the company has tackled in Northern Arizona and throughout the Southwest
Through the years, more than 500 clients have come to Woodson Engineering for help. A few jobs have included Ponderosa Trails, a 350-acre planned residential community; A-1 Ranches, a rural 33-lot subdivision on 92 acres; a utility relocation and design survey for the East Flagstaff Traffic Interchange; and work at The Peaks assisted living facility.
“It’s kind of like children in your family,” said owner Mark Woodson, pointing to an engineering map of the new town of Tusayan. “They’re all fun.”
Marking the many jobs well done at Woodson, the company celebrated its 20th year of doing business in Flagstaff with an open house on June 19. “We had a good turnout of clients, friends and former employees, and the mayor stopped by,” said Woodson, who started the business in 1994. “We had a wonderful afternoon getting to visit and talk about the old times.”
Woodson, 61, was born in Madison, Wis., but moved with his family at age seven to Phoenix where his father was an engineer for the city. Woodson went through grade school and high school in Phoenix, but moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s of business administration.
With more than 30 years in the engineering business, Woodson says he and his staff are thankful for the many clients who have made the anniversary possible. “We look forward to continuing to serve our valued customers for many years to come.”
Much of the work is at an expert and complex level, such as land surveys for parcels, splits, right-of ways, subdivisions, as well as topographic, aerial and boundary surveys for counties and cities.
“Most people don’t know what we do,” Woodson explained. “The lay people don’t use our services very often.”
Woodson said his company works frequently with cities and countries and with the Arizona Department of Transportation.
“Projects in Flagstaff include both private and public work, like building a new mixed-used project across from Wildflower Bread Company in Aspen Place,” he said. “We do the site engineering work on the drainage and sidewalks and any changes in the current driving and parking areas around there.”
In addition to drainage, street and parking studies, engineers at Woodson complete grading, storm, flood and traffic studies.
When he decided to start his own business 20 years ago, Woodson ran his start-up out of a spare bedroom downstairs in his home. His wife, Guadalupe (Lupe), handled the finances for the two-person operation.
The couple, who met while students at U of A, had moved to Flagstaff in 1986 after Woodson left his job as town engineer in Eagar. A chance meeting with a professional in his field had alerted him to an opening in a job as city engineer of Flagstaff.
“It was a great move,” he said. “We love being in a cooler climate.”
Seven years later, Woodson decided to start his own business. “I had a plan. I said five years out, I might have 10 or 12 employees,” he recalled. “We exceeded that at two years, and we’ve been like that ever since. Flagstaff has been a really good place to work.”
There are currently 13 employees at the company, but that number has reached as high as 22. Employee morale has remained high through the years, including that of Sue Ohl, who has been the administrative assistant for the company since 2006.
“I’m from NAU where it was a big environment, to this small company, and it’s just been a pleasure to work here,” Ohl said. “I enjoy coming to work every day. The duties I do are broad and the engineering environment is exciting. It’s interesting, and it’s fun to learn all their terms and what a civil engineer does.”
Since the inception of Woodson Engineering, the demand for high-quality engineering and surveying has grown in town. “On any given day, we have 40 or 50 projects now,” Woodson said.
Some of the biggest and most demanding projects have been ongoing work as contract city engineers with Winslow and Holbrook, as well as on-call engineering services with Flagstaff.
While nurturing a growing company, the Woodsons were raising their four children: Kathy, Anna, Robert and John. “They’ve all worked here doing a variety of different things through the years,” Woodson said.
Today, Mark and Guadalupe have five grandchildren and counting. “On the journey of Woodson Engineering, I would say it was one of the major decisions in our married life for him to go out on his own, not only for his family but also for the welfare of his staff and their families,” said Lupe, who is a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner. “The four children grew up knowing more about a business model and the workings of this business and having a parent who had an entrepreneurial spirit. They had a mentor. Plus it allowed him to be flexible to all of their schedules as well. I can tell you, he didn’t miss a football, baseball or soccer game. It was very beneficial. It was wonderful.” FBN
For more information about the company, call 928-774-4636 or visit the website at www.woodsoneng.com or the office at 124 N. Elden St. in Flagstaff.
Betsey Bruner, a longtime journalist and commercial photographer, operates her freelance Words & Images business out of her office in downtown Flagstaff.