Two promising young engineers found themselves faced with a decision in the early 1980s.
Neal Kuehl and Bob Payer were working for Otto & Culver Engineering in Storm Lake, but when that firm sold out to Associated Engineers out of Fort Dodge, the firm quickly developed issues and its people started to depart.
Neal and Bob decided that they didn't want to leave Storm Lake, and so in 1983, they decided to form Kuehl and Payer and make a go of it on their own.
This month they are celebrating the 25th anniversary of that venture.
The office started with four people that year, and later purchased Chuck's Surveying and Mapping in Storm Lake and two other northwest Iowa companies. Kuehl & Payer Ltd. now employs 38 in Storm Lake, Algona and Sac City.
As a civil engineering firm, they don't actually build anything - but they plan and design and provide construction administration for all kinds of things. Streets, highways, water towers, airports, swimming pools, ballparks, water treatment plants, sewers, rural drainage and then some.
"I personally get a lot of satisfaction whn I'm driving through the area and I start seeing all of the projects we've had a hand in," Neal says.
If addition to infastructure, this company has played a major role in lifestyle improvements too - everything from a youth skate park in Spencer to the new aquatic center in Cherokee.
"We even did some of the site work to help get Project AWAYSIS off the ground," Neal notes.
While there are competing companies in places like Sioux City and Fort Dodge, Kuehl & Payer makes a necessary service available in rural northwest Iowa and strives to be affordable for the needs of even small area communities.
"Cities and towns around here have infastructure problems, and they don't have the ability to solve it. They trust us to come in as a consultant and help find the solutions, and then follow through with the design and administration of the construction," Neal said - sort of a one-stop shop for community development needs.
In a quarter of a century, the community needs haven't changed all that much, but the means for meeting them have.
"When we started, our projects were all drawn by hand, and we used tools like levels and transits. We got into the Apple Lisa computer, which came out even ahead of macintosh," Neal remembers. "Now all the design is done by computer using CADD technology, and almost all of the information is gathered by GPS and other electronic data technology."
The needs for such a firm continue to grow. Infastructure is showing its age for many towns. "We have a lot of street projects ready to go, and we are planning a bunch of water treatment facilities that will be necessary under DNR required improvements," Neal said. A major project is under discussion this month in Alta, for example.
Kuehl & Payer hosted an open house Wednesday to celebrate the anniversary, but the namesakes of the company don't have much time to spend looking backward.
"The next day, it's back to business," Kuehl says.
* For more information, see the company's website at www.kpltd.com.