By Karen Ackerman Witter
Mark Vasconcelles and Mark Henderson share more in common than having the same first name. They are both sons of engineers who learned from their fathers at a young age how to hold a survey rod and went on to lead the firms their fathers started. Vasconcelles’ father founded Vasconcelles Engineering Corporation in 1973. Henderson’s father founded Allen Henderson and Associates in 1976, which merged with Veenstra and Kimm, Inc. on July 1, 2015. Effective July 1, 2020, Vasconcelles Engineering Corporation is merging with Veenstra and Kimm, a second-generation family engineering firm that has grown to more than 160 employees.
Veenstra and Kimm is a full-service engineering firm headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, with offices in Springfield and eight other cities in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota. The company is employee-owned with approximately 50 shareholders. Bob Veenstra serves as the chairman of the board, and Forrest Aldrich is president. Seven of the shareholders, including Mark Vasconcelles and Mark Henderson, are in the Springfield office.
The merger was a natural fit, since Vasconcelles Engineering and Veenstra and Kimm have worked together on more than 100 projects over the past 18 years, bringing their individualized expertise together to provide comprehensive engineering services for a wide range of clients. Vasconcelles Engineering’s focus is civil engineering, including land surveying and infrastructure design for highways, dams, wastewater and other facilities. Vasconcelles Engineering works with federal, state and local governments as well as private corporations and commercial developers. Vasconcelles says the merger will allow them to expand the services they can offer clients and to pursue larger projects.
With this merger, three second-generation engineering firms have come together. Henderson and Vasconcelles both learned about a family-owned engineering business from a young age. Henderson says he admired his father’s courage to leave a good job as a structural engineer with the Illinois Capital Development Board to start his own engineering business while supporting his wife and six children. Vasconcelles has a similar story. His father was a city traffic engineer under Springfield Mayor William Telford. Fearful of losing his job during an administration change, he founded his own engineering company in 1973 with four small children to support. Vasconcelles was in fourth grade, and it was the beginning of his journey to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an engineer.
The role of the branch offices of Veenstra and Kimm is to improve local delivery of services to clients. The Springfield branch office will move into the Vasconcelles Engineering office at 2417 W. White Oaks Dr. later this year. Vasconcelles and Henderson say they are committed to delivering a quality product and operating an office where people want to come to work, thus continuing the legacy both men learned from their fathers.
Karen Ackerman Witter began freelance writing after retiring from a long career in state government. She has an appreciation for engineering as her father, brother and son are all civil engineers.