Celebrating milestone marks of tenure reached by more CTA team members

By: Travis Estvold
5 November 2015

Eight CTA team members (including Sue Anderson and Randy Freeck, profiled in a previous blog entry), reached notable milestones of tenure in recent months. So we collected a bit of info about each, and ran those who were available through a Q&A that captures a few highlights of their time with CTA.

[ezcol_1half]Ken Richardson [30 years of service!]

Dan Bentson [30 years of service!]

  • Title: HVAC Designer
  • CTA office: Billings, MT
  • Started in Feb. 1985
  • #1 song on Billboard that week:
    Foreigner, “I Want To Know What Love Is
  • Highest grossing movie released that month:
    Witness” ($65.5 million)

Teresa Daniel [25 years of service!]

  • Title: Administrative Assistant
  • CTA office: Billings, MT
  • Started in Feb. 1990
  • #1 song on Billboard that week:
    Paula Abdul, “Opposites Attract
  • Highest grossing movie released that month:
    Hard to Kill” ($47.4 million)
[/ezcol_1half][ezcol_1half_end] Greg Matthews, AIA [20 years of service!]

  • Title: Principal/Healthcare Market Leader
  • CTA office: Billings, MT
  • Started in May 1995
  • #1 song on Billboard that week:
    Montell Jordan, “This is How We Do It
  • Highest grossing movie released that month:
    Casper” ($100.2 million)

Jerry Pimley [20 years of service!]

Brad Feeley, AIA, NCARB [20 years of service!]

  • Title: Design Architect
  • CTA office: Billings, MT
  • Started in July 1995
  • #1 song on Billboard that week:
    TLC, “Waterfalls
  • Highest grossing movie released that month:
    Waterworld” ($88.2 million)[/ezcol_1half_end]

WHAT WAS THE FIRST PROJECT YOU WORKED ON FOR CTA? WHAT STOOD OUT?

  • Richardson: One of the earliest was the Bozeman Airport, with design director and principal Bob Fehlberg. Our directive from the client was to have arriving passengers step off the plane into a “ski lodge.” It was a  highly successful project and met the design criteria very well. Even with the recent additions, it is still plain to see Bozeman Airport is much like being in a ski lodge.
  • Daniel: Billings Logan International Airport expansion/renovation. I started on the very tail end of that project. The client wanted 100 books/drawings, which back then meant sending the original to the print shop. Once the books were returned, we had to punch and bind each book. The specifications were a three-volume book so that meant we punched/bound 300 books. Drawings were produced on a blue-line plotter.
  • Matthews: The first project I worked on was a small clinic renovation in Glendive, MT. It was my first experience using Microstation, so I recall the learning curve being challenging.
  • Feeley: It was the Gabert Clinic in Glendive, MT. Coming from a wood background having worked in a lumber yard, it was amazing to me the level of detail we would get in drawing the steel studs, steel structure, and decking.

WHAT HAS MADE YOU WANT TO KEEP WORKING AT CTA THESE 20/25/30 YEARS?

  • Richardson: Flexibility and freedom, plus great folks to work with! Flexibility: CTA has always been for me a place where you can follow your passions. During my tenure, I’ve had the opportunity to be in the Design department, headed up Interiors for a brief stint when needed, and served as model builder extraordinaire, project manager and on-site architect for several years. Strangely enough, I then moved to Business Development — turned in my hardhat for khakis and a car. Freedom: to pursue BD without a lot of direction. And really good people all around us, to support our BD efforts, build the CTA brand, and help make us all successful.
  • Daniel: My colleagues, the variety of work, and satisfaction for a job well done.
  • Matthews: Many things have influenced me over the years, but culture is probably the number one factor that has kept me at CTA.
  • Feeley: The people I work with in the office. Through it all, I have seen a lot of folks come and go as CTA has grown and evolved. And above all, it’s the close relationships I have formed with my coworkers that keep me going. If you compare CTA to the other outfits in the Billings area, there is no comparison. I am at the right location as the people here are real and down to earth (practical).

WHAT THINGS ARE THE SAME AS THEY WERE WHEN YOU STARTED?

  • Richardson: Not much! Different physical locations, different logo, and leadership has almost entirely turned over (with Gene Kolstad — who hired me — and Keith Rupert, being the last two). Sameness is having the architects and engineers “under one roof” — this is a very strong attribute for CTA. I have worked in architecture-only firms and they are much less able to predict the responsiveness of consultants, something CTA does with ease, comparatively speaking.
  • Daniel: My colleagues, the variety of work (though I only worked in Word Perfect for DOS), and satisfaction for a job well done. Also, my husband and address.
  • Matthews: Editing specs and CTA culture.
  • Feeley: The working process and team communication are still daily efforts, much as they were in my early days.

WHAT THINGS ARE THE MOST DIFFERENT?

  • Richardson: Obvious answer: technology. We originally produced documents with parallel bars on boards, then went to drafting machines, then to CADD. We shared phones and answering machines in the field. Now, mobile/smart phones have shortened the communication flow immensely.
  • Daniel: Many more programs/software to work in (Word, Excel, Access, Adobe, Bluebeam, Vision, CAD, VistaPoint, Outlook, PaintShop Pro). Technology is ever-changing. If we would get a document from another company and needed to use it for our project, we had to retype it word-for-word instead of getting an electronic copy. I had to do the AIA contracts using a typewriter. Fax machines were used on a VERY regular basis as a method of communication. Phones: we took calls, wrote messages on slips of paper, and someone would distribute them every 30 to 60 minutes. Only Support and CAD had computers. Word processing did all typing of correspondence, specs, billing, and any kind of schedules that went on the drawings.
  • Matthews: Projects have much shorter schedules, and changes include our accounting system, the faces of our leaders, and the overall size of the company. When I started, there were two offices and 82 total staff.
  • Feeley: The amount of resources that are available to us as professionals. When I started, nobody knew what the World Wide Web was. And research was done by grabbing a book off the shelf and thumbing through the Sweets catalog to find a product. When you found something close to what you were looking for, you needed to call and find it from a real person — Google wasn’t there to help you. Proper desktop computers were just coming out; they sat me at a workstation with one monitor, gave me a book, and said “go.”

HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT THAN WHEN YOU STARTED?

  • Richardson: I’m more patient; more willing to work through issues and to allow others the time needed to reach resolutions. Starting at CTA, I would have been terrible at business development. Putting yourself out there in public — unheard of! After taking up a BD position, I’ve forced myself to make cold calls, pick up the phone, introduce myself, and attend events where I haven’t known anyone. I’m more outgoing now than ever.
  • Daniel: I’m older (much), wiser (most days), and now an empty nester (my children were 2, 4, and 6 when I started working at CTA).
  • Matthews: I have a lot more grey hair!
  • Feeley: Back in 1995, I was a single, young architect-in-training so the only one I was responsible for was ME. But now I have four wonderful children and a great wife that give me a reason to get up and do GREAT things being who I am. Most in the Billings office know what I have been through and just recently, I am feeling more and more like my old self. In 2004, I was diagnosed with segmental dystonia, which causes shaking similar to Parkinson’s. In 2012, I had an opportunity to have brain surgery (a DBS implant) to control my dystonia. The operation was successful, but I still have the shakes in my head (head bobs, if you will). It is very annoying and fatiguing, but my clients know what I can do for them and are comfortable with who I am. If they didn’t know me, they would think I agree with them all the time. (LOL.)

CAN YOU RECALL A FAVORITE PROJECT IN YOUR TIME WITH CTA? WHAT MADE IT SPECIAL?

  • Richardson: The Billings Clinic expansion was memorable for me. Relatively new to being an on-site architect, I was very fortunate to have a classically great job site superintendent. He would separate the white board into three sections. On the left were questions we need answered today, in the middle were questions to be answered this week, and on the right were questions resolved in a month. He had the clarity to see the job’s future and ask the right questions. That made it really easy for me to keep communications rolling.
  • Daniel: My favorite project (most difficult, but also the most rewarding) was when I built a facilities management database for First Interstate Bank. It was so much more than facilities management. I also programmed the database to track project costs versus budget and had all the leases of the facilities entered so when there was a lease coming due within a certain amount of time, it would prompt them to renegotiate that space, up the rent, etc. Two years later, they came back to CTA and asked us to add an ATM component which I was successful at programming.
  • Matthews: I’d have to say the headquarters for Laurel Federal Credit Union (now Altana Federal Credit Union). This was the first project I ever took from cradle to grave, and I learned a lot along the way.
  • Feeley: RiverStone Hospice was a home taken from the cottage design on the [CTA-designed] St. John’s Lutheran Ministries campus. It was special since I had been involved with the expansion of the south campus development and this one was the latest and greatest cottage at the time. In place of lights on the interior, we introduced natural light through solatubes which added another amenity to the project. Currently, I live in this area; I drive by it every so often and can proudly tell my children their dad was a part of this campus.

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA THAT GOVERNS HOW YOU WORK/LIVE?

  • Richardson: Remain flexible to influence where you can, and accept when it is a different outcome. Opportunities present themselves daily. I did recently hear a modern-day phrase related to decision-making that I found both appropriate and humorous: Is the juice worth the squeeze?”
  • Daniel: The Golden Rule.
  • Matthews: I have this quote hanging at my desk: “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution.”
  • Feeley: Yes, from [CTA principal] Jim Beal. It was back some years when he needed help on a project. I said, “I am a Healthcare guy so I may not be much help.” He said, “Well, first, you’re an architect.” I thought about it, and he was right. It doesn’t matter what specialty you fall into, we all learn differently. But just hearing this made me think “I can do it.” It was a great example of positive reinforcement.

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Recent comments

  • Kendra Santa Cruz 2 years ago

    Amazing work! Truly inspiring to know that this company is in it for the long haul because the PEOPLE are in it for the long haul…and are enjoying themselves along the way!
    Here’s to another 20, 25, and 30 years with CTA!