Garver's Dan Williams on Building Bridges

Garver's Dan Williams on Building Bridges
Dan Williams

Dan Williams leads the largest engineering firm in Arkansas, Garver, which is based in North Little Rock.

Williams has spent more than 30 years with Garver. He has served as executive vice president and chief engineer, as vice president and regional office manager in Tulsa, Okla., and as a project manager for airport and civil projects. Williams earned his civil engineering degree from the University of Arkansas and is a professional engineer in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Q: What sectors are generating the most work for you and your firm these days?

A: Our three largest business lines are transportation, aviation and water. We’re a multi-disciplined consulting firm, and our infrastructure improvements range from local government projects to services for state and federal agencies. Our project drivers generally correspond with growth-related expansion and replacement as well as regulatory-related upgrades.

What steps did Garver take to keep business strong during the economic downturn?

In a few years, Garver will celebrate 100 years of service, and in that time, we’ve witnessed several downturns for our industry. Although no one is fully immune to this, we realize that we can’t be afraid to change and adapt. During the past few years, we’ve rolled out strategic organizational restructuring plans and ventured into new markets and regions.

What are some of Garver’s top projects, projects you are particularly proud of?

During my design and project management days, I’m proud to say that I was a part of numerous airfield improvements at Clinton National Airport and Tulsa International Airport. More recently we’ve worked on iconic projects like the Big Dam and Two Rivers pedestrian bridges in central Arkansas and the Interstate 244 multimodal Arkansas River Bridge in Tulsa. It’s also been important to me to continually improve our work-related technology and give our employees the tools they need.

You succeeded CEO Brock Johnson, who died last year after spending 40 years with Garver. Are there difficulties inherent in succeeding someone like Mr. Johnson?

Brock was a very visible leader, and in many ways, he was the face of Garver. I enjoyed almost 30 years of mentorship with Brock. He taught me a lot about leadership, and he never shied away from doing things that were hard while at the same time striving for excellence. My leadership style is different, but I will be mirroring Brock’s passion to provide quality work and to take care of our employees.

Garver is by far the largest engineering firm in Arkansas and has 16 offices in nine states. What are the top three reasons for its growth over the years?

First, it all comes back to our people and their commitment to delivering superior services. That’s the foundation to our success. We don’t just look for high-quality talent to join our firm; we employ men and women of integrity who share our passion for being successful.

Second, we’ve strived to develop services that benefit underserved markets and reach outside a standard engineering portfolio. Changing our name from Garver Engineers to Garver in 2009 identifies this dedication to developing services related to surveying, construction inspection and administration, architecture and environmental work.

Third, we’re a multi-disciplined firm, and we recognize the value in developing project-specific teams for aviation, transportation, water, federal, energy and development projects.