Unlike most kids his age, Bill Baird was certain that he was going to be an engineer starting in the fifth grade. His passion for math and science pointed directly towards a career that would serve the clients and community in and around his hometown of Arlington, Texas.
After graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor’s in civil engineering, Bill landed a position that laid a solid foundation for his future in the AEC industry. This included the opportunity to learn the many facets of becoming a civil engineer consultant.
Moving to his second career venture, Bill spent the next 15 years mastering “the importance of standing behind your work and making things right. Keeping your client’s best interest at heart, performing ethically, and just doing what’s right.” Little did Bill know, these basic principles would form the fundamental structure of his own multi-disciplinary firm, Baird, Hampton & Brown.
In the years that followed, Bill met coworkers and future BHB cofounders Merlin Hampton and Les Brown. Having worked closely together, Bill recognized the strength and reputation of both his colleagues. Luckily, these attributes came in handy after one particularly difficult year in 1992. After making the decision to leave their current employer, Bill and Merlin decided it was time for them to break off and start a firm of their own.
Starting with no work, no clients, and no money, Bill and Merlin had to solely rely on their reputation in the area. “The first thing we did was to start calling everyone we knew.” When Les joined three weeks later, the team began evolving from smaller designs to larger and more significant projects. Although the increase in workload was good for business, Bill, Merlin, and Les quickly realized three people could not produce all the work.
After only 12 months, the BHB staff grew to 10 employees. Bill saw the importance of hiring a top-notch staff that not only added value to their work, but helped maintain and grow a strong client base in DFW and surrounding areas. His efforts paid off, as BHB now has over 100 employees and counting.
As a continuous effort to develop his employees, Bill is now chairman of BHB’s Mentoring and Nominations Committee. Focusing on identifying and growing future leaders, Bill and the other committee members provide hands-on experience in the form of site visits, client meetings, or City conferences. “When we hire young people out of college to be engineers or surveyors, we have to teach them the full gamut of what our business is and how we do what we do.”
Bill credits many of his skills to the excellent mentors he had as a young engineer. As a way to pass on their knowledge, he finds time to provide face-to-face training for the company’s upcoming professionals. “Fairly often, I will go out with our EITs and I’ll just have a lesson. Whether it’s prompted by something I’m doing or a phone call I received, I enjoy sharing information and lessons I’ve learned.”
Aside from internal development, Bill is also heavily involved with the BHB Business Development Committee. As business development is a never-ending process, this committee centers their attention on long term success. As Bill describes, “Business Development is when you’re looking way down the road and thinking, ‘what are we doing today so that we’ll have business opportunities a year, two years, even five years down the road?’.” Because the impact of COVID-19 has affected the way we connect with current and future clients, Bill believes it is more important than ever to build on the strong network of contacts and referrals managed by this committee.
For Bill, life outside of work includes time spent with his wife of 45 years and his wonderful kids and grandkids. He has recently taken on the job of driving his five-year-old grandson to school twice a week. Similarly to his work with BHB’s future professionals, Bill says this time with his grandson is “a teaching and learning experience for both of us that I thoroughly enjoy.”