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4 April 2021 THEVOICE • rockfordchamber.



Small-firm feel,
By Paul Anthony Arco (Above) Fehr Graham employs a staff of 170,
including engineers, surveyors and landscape
Mick Gronewold remembers distinctly
the catalyst that helped Fehr Graham
to evolve from a small firm to one that (Right) Mick
could compete with the big boys in the Gronewold
engineering world.
“It was 1998, when we lost the trying to do is create
opportunity for a water main job in a firm with capable
Freeport, which was right in our own expertise, the staff
backyard,” said Gronewold, a principal to do large projects, but have them in
owner. “We asked the Freeport public various offices across the Midwest to
works director why we didn’t get the job, maintain that small-town feel,” said
and he said, ‘I didn’t think Fehr Graham Gronewold.
was big enough to handle the job.’ We knew The firm has a staff of 170 that
if we didn’t grow, our chances of securing includes engineers, surveyors and
challenging work for our staff diminished.” landscape architects. “Without our staff
Fehr Graham, an engineering and
we’re nothing to the very core,” said
environmental firm, was formed by
Gronewold. “Our people are really the
two Freeport engineers, Allen Fehr and
backbone of who we are as a firm. It takes
Joseph Graham. The two competitors
grit, the ability to solve problems and
decided after years of competing against
technical experience. When it comes to
each other they could be more successful
our business, our employees are the face
as partners. They opened their first office
of the company.”
in the fall of 1973 in Freeport. Their first
client was the village of Lena, which Fehr Graham continues to grow.
hired Fehr Graham to do curb work. Recently, the firm added 3,000 square
“They were great engineers who feet to its Rockford office in the Prairie
came up with a business model that Street Brewhouse, a former brownfield
encouraged young people to become site that the firm helped the city of
part of our ownership organically,” said Rockford remediate. In Freeport, Fehr
Gronewold, who joined the company Graham in February relocated its office
in 1993. “They created motivation for to the downtown area closer to City Hall
growth early on.” Graham retired in 1987 and the courthouse.
and Fehr followed three years later. Fehr Graham staff are involved
Fehr Graham works with several with several local organizations such as
municipal, civil and environmental Sharefest, IGNITE, Next Rockford and
clients, including the city of Rockford, Transform Rockford. “It’s important to
Loves Park, Roscoe, South Beloit, give back to our community,” Gronewold
Illinois Tollway, Illinois Department of said. “There are so many benefits to
Transportation, developers, architects volunteering your time, but making the
and other private clients in Illinois, Iowa communities better where we live and
and Wisconsin. work, is one of the most important.”
One of the firm’s biggest projects was While the past year has been
the Illinois Tollway’s $12 billion Move
challenging for many industries, the
Illinois program. Fehr Graham was
COVID pandemic has taught Fehr
hired as part of a joint venture to design
Graham some valuable lessons. “We’re
a 7.4-mile stretch of Interstate 90’s Jane
a better firm today than we were a year
Addams Memorial Tollway. The project
ago,” Gronewold said. “Our employees
included replacing pavement structure,
have improved their communication
widening the roadway and renovating
and collaboration skills to work better
ramps to oases and toll plazas.
“Our services are broad,” Gronewold with clients and with colleagues in other
said. “We provide municipal, offices, and that’s a positive.”
transportation, water and wastewater,
environmental, compliance work, FEHR GRAHAM
OSHA training surveying, landscape
Board Chairman, Mick Gronewold
architecture services and more.”
200 Prairie St., Ste. 200, Rockford
Fehr Graham has 10 offices in Illinois,
Iowa and Wisconsin. The firm opened its
first Rockford office in 1993. “What we’re

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