LJB Engineer Reflects on 40 Years with the Company

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, an individual holds a job for 4.6 years before quitting or moving on to another employer. LJB civil engineer and surveyor Harry Herbst has almost 10 times that tenure. This month, Mr. Herbst celebrates his 40-year anniversary at LJB, where he provides roadway and drainage design, right-of-way plan development, and land surveying.

Throughout his career, Mr. Herbst has had a significant impact on the infrastructure in southwest Ohio. He has worked on the following high profile projects in the area:

  • Interstates 70 and 75 Interchange Reconstruction
  • State Route 202 and Interstate 70 Interchange Reconstruction
  • Interstate 75 and Austin Blvd Interchange
  • Phase II of Interstate 75 Improvements in Downtown Dayton

In his preparation of thousands of legal descriptions in his career, there isn’t much of the Interstate 70-75 corridor that Mr. Herbst hasn’t touched. In addition to this project work, Mr. Herbst has served as the city engineer for many local municipalities and is a past president and executive committee member of the Miami Valley chapter of Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio (PLSO).

In a recent interview to commemorate his milestone anniversary, Mr. Herbst provided the following reflections on his lengthy career.

What have been the biggest changes you’ve noted in your career?

All our design and drafting efforts are now computerized, where before everything was done by hand. Today all our surveys are GPS based, and we could not have GPS without computers. We could not be the surveyors we are today without computers.

What do you miss from the way things used to be?

So much is computerized now that we don’t manually do entry-level work. Plotting field notes was a learning process – a good training and mentoring tool that allowed younger engineers to figure out how things went together or what was wrong. In the industry, we have lost a certain sense of the art in putting drawings together. And, even with advanced technology, there are still errors in GPS. Our surveyors are trained to recognize those errors.

What are some of your most memorable projects?

One of the things I’ve appreciated about LJB is that there always seems to be another opportunity, another challenge. The biggest, most memorable project I can remember was Riverscape in downtown Dayton. It was special because it was a high profile project for the area, and we had involvement from every LJB department. On that project, we also started sharing our work with other consultants electronically, rather than by sending drawings through the mail. Another memorable project was HAM-75, which involved surveying I-75 all the way to the state of Ohio line.  For that project, we had to research a relatively famous court case that set the state line. It was rather unique to follow such a high profile survey.

What are some things that have not changed?

Our mission, our professionalism, and our desire to find the unique solutions – to find something different (obviously with the concurrence of our clients). It’s in our DNA.

I give the founders a lot of credit for finding a way that the firm can perpetuate even after they’ve retired. A lot of engineering firms have gone out of business when the principals are ready to stop practicing. I think that’s a real strength of LJB.

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