You and your wife Claudia were awarded the Arthur C. Daman Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Mining Industry, which recognizes “individuals who have contributed significantly to the image of the mining industry, and have made a significant impact on the mining industry in either property development, equipment design or engineering services.” How did you get started?
Claudia and I grew up in the tiny island of Grenada where we attended elementary and high school. Under the British education system in Grenada, we successfully completed Advanced Level studies in the sciences and mathematics, administered by the University of Cambridge, England. Because there were no universities on the island in the early 1980s aside from one medical school, we both immigrated to the United States to pursue further education. Claudia completed BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering. Everod completed a BSEE degree from Howard University and an MS degree in electrical engineering as well as the Leeds School of Business executive MBA program at the University of Colorado.
How was Samuel Engineering founded?
Claudia started Samuel Engineering, Inc. in 1996 to be able to practice engineering as well as take care of our four children, who at that time were ages five and younger (Claudia refers to Samuel Engineering as her fifth child). This allowed her the flexibility to work and take care of our children. I have been employing my expertise in the mining industry since 1988 for companies such as Minproc Engineers and Constructors, Kilborn and SNC Lavalin, holding positions including chief electrical engineer, project manager, manager of projects, vice president of engineering and project operations. In 2001, I joined Samuel Engineering, and together we transformed it into a full-service, multidiscipline engineering company. From humble beginnings in our home to our present headquarters in Denver, with offices in Wyoming and Texas, Samuel Engineering now has around 300 employees and continues to grow. Over the years, the company has successfully completed several complex and challenging projects worldwide, some of which others did not think was possible. Examples of locations where Samuel Engineering has provided solutions for mining projects include Alaska in the United States, most countries in Central and South America, Canada, Eastern Europe and Africa.
What core values do you feel your company embodies?
Samuel Engineering is committed to its core values of excellence and compassion: excellence in everything we do, and compassion to everyone we meet. These core values and our desire to please the ultimate engineer, God, have been and continue to be the key reasons why we are successful. Samuel Engineering has completed hundreds of mining projects nationally and globally and has done so by providing solutions to clients’ challenges. We do so by following several key principles which include listening to our clients, being creative, using technology effectively, and paying acute attention to detail. These key principles enable us to provide an excellent service, achieving our core value of excellence. It is also very important that all of Samuel Engineering’s stakeholders — clients, banks, vendors, employees, strangers — no matter the title or position, should be treated with respect and compassion. We were able to demonstrate this during COVID when we did not lay off any employees for lack of work. While our billability dropped to the single digits, we assured everyone of a certain level of income security and tapped into our savings to ensure employees were taken care of.
What are some of the professional achievements or milestones that have defined you, or made you proud?
Major milestones include:
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced, and how have they been meaningful?
- Moving from an electrical, instrumentation and controls (EI&C) company to a multidiscipline company in 2001.
- Moving from our home office in 2001 to purchasing our current headquarters building.
- Being able to provide 100% employer-paid medical benefits for our employees and their families.
- Achieving the Engineering Company of the Year award for four out of five years.
- Being recognized by the Denver Post as one of the Top Places to Work, based solely on employees’ responses.
- Addition of Wyoming and Texas offices as well as fabrication/modularization and construction in Texas.
- Most recently the Arthur C. Daman Award — an unexpected and very pleasant surprise.
- Attaining and maintaining a debt-free status for over 14 years.
- Lou Cope Award for best presentation from the Colorado MPD Subsection of SME.
- Receiving the Martin Luther King Jr. “Content of Character Award” in Business.
We believe that there are opportunities in every challenge. For example, during the pandemic, we were able to acquire some talented personnel, and Samuel Engineering grew during the last two years. Some of the biggest challenges have been:
What advice would you give to young engineers starting out in the field?
- Balancing work and taking care of four young children during the early days. It taught us the importance of prioritizing and planning: no wasting time on frivolous activities.
- Meeting financial challenges especially during the growth years. It taught us the importance of saving and investing for a “rainy day.”
- Ensuring there is adequate backlog.
- The global financial crisis of 2008-2009 was a challenge when 11 of Samuel Engineering’s biggest mining projects were put on hold or cancelled in the space of two weeks. Despite this massive collapse of work, Samuel Engineering did not follow the layoff trend enacted by many, but instead held on to its staff by reaching into its reserves to maintain the livelihoods of its staff. Though challenging at the time, it turned out to be a great business decision; Samuel Engineering was able to take significant market share when the market started to turn later in the 2010 timeframe because of its deep bench of retained full-time engineering professionals.
- It can go without saying that the pandemic was a great challenge. We implemented a similar employment preservation philosophy as we did in 2008-2009 and are again starting to reap the benefits as the market heats up.
What is something your SME membership has given you that you didn’t anticipate when you first joined?
- Take pride in the work that you do in any job/position you hold. Each and every position that you hold is preparing you for the future, whether it is in this field or another. We’ve each held jobs/positions that had nothing to do with our current position, but skills from those jobs are still applied to the positions we hold today.
- Focus on being excellent in whatever your current role or job is, not your next job — nothing gets noticed like results! The opportunities and advancements will come…
- Learn to find the strengths in everyone and utilize them — team focused versus “me” focused.
- Complete each task given with excellence even if it means doing extra hours of research on your own time.
- Look for opportunities in every challenge.
One surprise benefit we realized after becoming an SME member is the ready access membership provided to a large group of high-caliber professionals with very practical solutions to technical challenges.
What do you see the future holding for yourself and for the industry?
The future is exciting because we as an industry have the opportunity to really cultivate and solve the challenges of the world.
With the heavy focus on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and the need for energy transition minerals such as lithium, graphite and cobalt, the mining industry, with its wealth of knowledge in mineral processing in other base and precious metals, can use the “knowhow” and expertise to quickly and efficiently solve the need for processing these metals. Samuel Engineering is currently working on several projects to process and purify energy transition metals and minerals.