DB: We work to differentiate the firm by offering unique solutions, so there is always a demand for our expertise and services. We use new technology, tools, and software to be efficient and accurate with data collection. We produce a work product that is easy to understand and communicate which is needed for breaking down and explaining complex incidents to non-technical people such as members of a jury. Technology includes 3D laser scanning equipment, drones and a variety of powerful analytical software packages. Another unique solution is making sure that there is constant collaboration within our expert team in order to provide consistent and thorough investigative services. “We do not have an organizational chart. Those who have good organizational skills are asked to lead certain projects or groups. Simple.” TZL: Are you using the R&D tax credit? If so, how is it working for your firm? If not, why not? DB: No. We do not meet the eligibility requirements. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? DB: As a manager, I try to listen to all sides of a story and fully investigate a situation before jumping to conclusions. No one can fault you when the result is truly fair for all parties. We do not offer any formal training because we don’t have any other managers in our small firm outside of Randy and I. We do not have an organizational chart. Those who have good organizational skills are asked to lead certain projects or groups. Simple. TZL: When you identify a part of your business that is not pulling its weight in terms of profitability or alignment with the firm’s mission, what steps do you take, and what’s the timeline, to address the issue while minimizing impacts to the rest of the company? DB: I will have a meeting with the person/ group and reiterate that they must drive projects and their clients. Be the one to make the call, not wait to receive it. The focus needs to be on exceeding the clients’ expectations and always finding a solution
to ensure we deliver what they request. TZL: How do you handle a long-term principal who is resting on his or her laurels? What effect does a low- performing, entitled principal or department head have on firm morale? DB: One negative attitude effects the entire team’s morale. People will begin to question their own dedication to the team and their place on it. It makes people question even if there is no true issue or concern. Meet the problem head on and act quickly as needed. TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? DB: You must set goals and make plans years in advance. You cannot be over prepared for an ownership transition. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? DB: When there is a tough decision to be made, you need to make it and not look back. First and foremost, trust your instincts. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO? DB: Manage and organize resources. “When there is a tough decision to be made, you need to make it and not look back. First and foremost, trust your instincts.” TZL: What happens to the firm if you leave tomorrow? DB: Schaefer Engineering operates and is structured so that the loss of one person does not cripple it. There is a collaborative effort in every key element and program in our firm. TZL: Diversity and inclusion is lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? DB: Schaefer Engineering, Inc. is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise See EXCEED EXPECTATIONS, page 8
HEADQUARTERS: Wentzville, MO NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 15 YEAR FOUNDED: 2002 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 1 SERVICES: Fire and explosion causation, product and system evaluation, vehicular accident investigation and reconstruction, materials and metallurgical engineering, and forensic engineering testing services MARKETS: The firm provides quality forensic consulting services nationwide to law firms, manufacturers, insurance companies, independent adjusting companies, third- party administrators, truck lines, municipalities, and individuals. EXPERTISE: Mechanical and metallurgical engineering expertise includes: vehicular accident investigation and reconstruction analysis with emphasis in commercial vehicles. Experts also provide product failure analysis including structure mechanical systems and equipment, vehicle and marine components/systems, mechanical machinery, plumbing and fire-sprinkler systems, and fuel gas equipment as well as solid fuel-burning appliances for fire causation. Carbon monoxide exposure investigations are also performed. Electrical engineering expertise includes evaluation of electrical products, components and systems. Additionally, it includes investigation of electrical arc blast, shock, and electrocution incidents. Experts provide equipment damage assessments due to water or lightning, and investigation of electrical artifacts potentially involved in the ignition of a fire.
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ch 16, 2020, ISSUE 1336
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