'A good team'
Apr 24, 2013 (Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Jeff Arnold quickly determined that there was something more in life for him than being a survey helper at the Ayrgem mine near Central City.
After working for several years after high school, Arnold found out about his company's grant-in-aid program that helped him go to college to get an engineering degree. He started in pre-engineering at Western Kentucky University and finished at the University of Kentucky, because it wasn't until years later that WKU received certification for a four-year program.
Arnold worked for years for the coal company before moving back to the area in 1986, when he went to work for American Engineers in Glasgow. While there, Arnold had a hand in engineering many major road projects in the area, from Interstate 65 expansions to widening Campbell Lane from two lanes to the thoroughfare it is now.
"My grandson was in Bowling Green, and I just felt like it was time to start my own business," Arnold said of the move to Bowling Green seven years ago.
Since starting Arnold Consulting Engineering and Surveying in Bowling Green, Arnold has had a hand in many other projects, both public and private. He started with a handful of employees and now has 15 part-time and full-time workers, including partners Brian Shirley and John Sewel.
ACES employees help take projects from concept until they are occupied or otherwise in use. That means there are environmental studies, hydrology tests and soil tests beforehand and then tests as a building project progresses.
Last week, ACES employees took to a boat on Drakes Creek to do their job. Adam Leftwich said they were modeling the bottom of the creek bed, a step needed in designing an expanded Cemetery Road bridge over the creek. They will do a computer model of the creek to help determine the design of the bridge piers, but designers need to know the shape of the channel for the computer modeling to work.
When engineers help design a building site, there is a lot of work that goes on even during the site preparation process.
"Most people don't understand all that goes on with just moving dirt," he said.
Lasers are used to make sure the ground is at the proper elevation, and compaction tests are needed to make sure that if much dirt is moved around, the soil is compacted enough to support what will be on top of it.
Arnold said it is fun to see the projects come to fruition.
"The first time I walked out and saw a (Hot Rods) game, it was awesome," Arnold said, referring to Bowling Green Ballpark. "I can't believe Bowling Green has something like this."
He has worked on other projects in the Tax Increment Financing district, including the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, The Medical Center-WKU Health Sciences Complex and the new Dollar General store. Arnold also is working on the Shoppes at Gary Farms, which will include major retail tenants. Ground should be broken for that project within a week.
But perhaps some of the most rewarding work for ACES is what it does for Habitat for Humanity. ACES has donated its time to help on all Habitat Houses and gave a significant discount on the work for designing Habitat's green subdivision, Durbin Estates.
"When we are building a new house, they donate all of the lot surveys and plat layout," said Rodney Goodman, executive director for Habitat. "It's great. Not only do they do it for free, but they do a great job and do it when we need it. We are very grateful to have them as a partner."
Goodman said since becoming director four years ago, ACES has done the work on 14 houses.
"And they were doing it for us before then," Goodman said.
That is money that Habitat doesn't have to come up with even before a project begins, allowing all donations to go toward a project.
The significantly reduced rate on services for Durbin Estates has allowed grant dollars for the project, being done in conjunction with WKU, to be stretched even further.
"They have been absolutely wonderful to us," Goodman said.
Arnold said while the company is strong now, there were some difficult times. At the beginning of 2009, the economic downturn was touching southcentral Kentucky.
"I had 12 or 13 employees then," he said. "I had a meeting and told them that my goal was to see everyone at the table still here at the end of 2009. We did it, but it was tough."
ACES operates without secretaries or administrators.
Business has grown four times to what it was when ACES first opened.
"And we've done it because of the good people here," Arnold said. "We have a good team."
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