CTA Associate Tom Dietrich began his career as a mechanical/CADD designer with the firm back in January 1991. He started out in the Billings office, secondarily serving as the office’s volleyball manager and trainer for many years during which the team celebrated several tournament wins. In 1998, he transferred to CTA Boise, a move initially difficult for his family, he recalls. His daughter, Madlin (with wife Kathy), was then 5 years old and is now in her final semester at the University of Idaho, majoring in Interior Design with a minor in Architecture. She has previously interned with CTA and he admits he’d be a proud dad for her to join the firm one day.
We ran Dietrich through a little Q&A to get his perspective on reaching the 25-year mark with CTA:
WHAT WAS THE FIRST PROJECT YOU WORKED ON FOR CTA? WHAT STOOD OUT?
“One of my first projects was to do the mechanical design for the new Air Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) building at the Billings [MT] airport. Randy Freeck was the project architect. My big project for the next couple of years was the new Joint Crow Northern Cheyenne Hospital; Sue Anderson was the architect.” [NOTE: Freeck and Anderson were featured in a similar 2015 blog post.]
WHAT HAS MADE YOU WANT TO KEEP WORKING AT CTA THESE 25 YEARS?
“The incredible talent of the people and the opportunity to work on some incredible projects. I worked for seven years prior to CTA with a small mechanical/electrical engineering firm in Billings. The chance to work with architects as team members instead of as ‘consultants’ has kept me here over the years.”
WHAT THINGS ARE THE SAME AS THEY WERE WHEN YOU STARTED?
“The Billings office was the entire CTA office to me, though we had a small group of architects in Boise. I made employee #45, my employee number is 511, and I’m not sure what the newest employee number we are using now for the most current hire.”
WHAT THINGS ARE THE MOST DIFFERENT?
“The number of employees  and locations . There was a time when I knew everyone by name and many of their families. Now there are many CTA offices I have not been to.”
HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT THAN WHEN YOU STARTED?
“As I am getting to the point where retirement is in my not-to-distant future, I am in the position, gratefully, to be viewed as a mentor to the junior team members. I have worked on so many projects, the experiences just keep coming. However, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new.”
CAN YOU RECALL A FAVORITE PROJECT IN YOUR TIME WITH CTA? WHAT MADE IT SPECIAL?
“I have always enjoyed traveling. Since relocating to the Boise office in 1998, I have had the chance to travel extensively in the U.S., from coast-to-coast and border-to-border, and to Central America (Panama) about six times. Actually, the last week of January, I was back in Panama. ‘Miles and segments, baby,’ as those of us who travel frequently say. My family has been very supportive of my time away from home. Thanks, Kathy and Madlin!”
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE TO A TEAM MEMBER WHO MIGHT BE STARTING WORK AT CTA TODAY? HOW COULD THEY FIND HAPPINESS AND FULFILLMENT HERE FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS?
“I always try and coach the younger staff by saying, ‘Become a student of what CTA does.’ Become an expert in what you do, but keep your eyes up and open, and learn what the other disciplines do and what is important to them. Review all the drawings, not just your own, to understand what we are providing for our clients. It is easy to celebrate the day the pens and pencils are down and look back at the hard work we did, but save the celebration until the construction is completed and the client is thrilled!
I am proud having been named a CTA Associate, even though I don’t have a professional education. I place myself as an example that we all have the ability to grow here at CTA.”
Photos of a few projects on which Dietrich has worked over the years:
Main image: Dietrich explains an air flow model for a client server room.