Member News: Froehling & Robertson celebrates 140 years
Although the company started as a tiny operation in a chemist’s lab in the 1880s, Froehling & Robertson, Inc. went on to shape the construction of massive infrastructure and iconic buildings around the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. As F&R turns 140 years old, Sam Proctor – Chief Executive Officer of the Native American, veteran and woman-owned company – revels at the company’s legacy and potential.
“We do 4,000 to 5,000 projects a year,” Proctor said. “We have worked on outstanding projects – the National Museum of the American Indian, the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History & Culture, the Pentagon, the Flight 93 Memorial, Dulles Airport, the bridge tunnels for Hampton Roads, projects for the military around the world, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center, which is a stellar work of architecture and one of the greenest structures in America.”
Amid all those high-profile developments have been countless and equally important projects at schools, hospitals and other facilities.
Two of the factors that have contributed to F&R’s success and growth throughout 140 years have been its commitment to technology and people, said Shambi Eubanks, Director of Communications. F&R has steadily adopted emerging technologies that improve its capabilities and responsiveness to clients, she said.
The company has also fostered a culture that values employees, supports their growth and convinces many to stay for more than 30 years, Eubanks said. “They strive for excellence and they express a sense of appreciation for a company with such a rich legacy and so much opportunity for them to make impacts on things that will last generations into the future.”
Proctor’s own family has been part of the company since 1918 when his grandfather, Dr. Sam Scheib, joined F&R. When Scheib died in 1938, Proctor’s grandmother took a leadership role in the company “at a time when women were rarely in business and certainly not in the engineering business,” Proctor said.
Today, F&R operates by the belief that “we want people from the broadest spectrum we can get working together with the shared purpose to deliver sound engineering and construction practices,” Proctor said. “Our staff is comprised of GEDs to PhDs. If you have a driller who doesn’t have a college degree, and an engineer with a PhD, they will look at situations differently and come up with solutions.”
As the construction industry increasingly wrestles with challenges created by climate change, Proctor believes that diversity of talent will be essential to “creating the buildings and infrastructure that will serve our grandchildren well into 2071.”