Jackson — After 21 years as one of Mississippi’s most successful and highly respected engineers, Bud Alford recently sold his interest in Alford Engineering to Jerry Tullos and Lee Jones.
But the handing off of the reins at the firm primarily known for its “water” work was not a surprise, spontaneous move. The transition had been in the making for nearly two decades.
“Bud was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1985, only one year after starting the firm,” said Tullos, company president. “He approached me in 1986 to join the firm to assist him. The long-term goal was for me to be here when he could no longer work. Thankfully, Bud was able to work until 2004 before the MS forced him into retirement.”
By 2001, the workload had increased to the point that Alford and Tullos needed to hire another engineer. Jones, retired director of the North Mississippi Engineering Branch at the Mississippi State Board of Health, came on board after 25 years as a state employee and now serves as vice president of the firm. Three long-term technicians also share in the ownership: Alan Hendrix, Carey Aldridge and Mark May.
“Due to having long-term employees — we have seven full-time employees with an average firm tenure of 12 years — we have been able to continue our project work without any significant problems,” said Tullos.
Scratching the engineering itch
When Tullos was a teenager, he spent summer vacations tagging along to work with his older brother, a civil engineer, and quickly “developed an appreciation for what he did and decided to follow in his footsteps.”
After graduating with an engineering degree from Mississippi State University in 1970, Tullos joined the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) as an assistant project engineer in his hometown of Philadelphia. He moved to the private sector when he joined Batson & Brown Inc., Consulting Engineers, and was a partner with Brax Batson, P.E., and Wayne Brown, P.E., now the Southern District Transportation Commissioner, before joining Alford Engineering.
“These two men (Brax and Wayne) took a chance on a young engineer and provided valuable mentoring,” said Tullos. “I credit them for my training as a consulting engineer.”
For two decades, Alford Engineering specialized in designing, building and repairing rural and municipal water and sewer systems throughout Mississippi.
“We have chosen to focus our practice on civil/environmental services related to water and sewer systems,” said Tullos. “We have expertise in other areas such as streets and recreational projects. However, we typically provide these services to existing water and sewer clients.”
Municipalities and non-profit utility associations or districts represent the majority of Alford Engineering clients.
“Several large regional and national firms are available that can provide services in all engineering disciplines,” said Tullos. “They could be compared to the Wal-Marts of today, but we have chosen to operate more like the local ‘mom and pop’ store. When a client hires Alford, he will be dealing with an owner of the firm and receive personal service. We are not looking for a one-time project with a client but a long-term relationship with many future projects.”
Among Alford Engineering’s high-profile projects:
• Brighton Park in the City of Clinton. Under construction, the $3-million, 22-acre family neighborhood park will feature six tennis courts with room for four more, a 6,000-square-foot building with meeting rooms for city and community functions, paved courtyards for outdoor activities, sand volleyball, shuffleboard, a playground, walking path, disc golf, pavilions, roads and parking.
• Traceway Park in the City of Clinton. The $3.2-million revitalization project involves 123 acres of existing baseball and soccer fields. Work includes renovation of existing office space for the Parks and Recreation Department, three new buildings each with restrooms, concessions and pavilions, one new international soccer field, maintenance building, multi-use pathway, two playgrounds, street and parking improvements and drainage work.
• The City of Vicksburg Sewage Collection System. When the city obtains the rights-of-ways, it will build a new $4.5-million sewage collection system to serve approximately 350 customers in South Vicksburg. The fifth and final phase serving the area were annexed in the early 1990s; the design work is completed.
“All of our clients are important to us,” Tullos pointed out. “The large projects make our bottom line look good. However, it is the smaller projects that pay the day-to-day bills.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.