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Celebrating 35 Years with Century West: An Interview with President Joe Roshak

In a remarkable journey spanning 35 years, Joe Roshak has risen through the ranks at Century West Engineering from a fresh graduate to the company’s current President. His dedication, commitment, and leadership have played a pivotal role in the growth and success of Century West.

What motivated you to choose Century West Engineering and the engineering field in general?

My journey into civil engineering and Century West Engineering began through a combination of family influence and the promising opportunities that the field offered. My father’s role in heavy construction planted the seed of civil engineering early on in my life. When I encountered Century West at a career fair in 1987, I was drawn to its wide spectrum of services. The Bend office’s location, near my relatives, was also a significant attraction. Despite the economic climate of the late ’80s making job hunting a challenge, I was determined to be part of the Century West team, and ultimately, my persistence paid off.

Former Century West President, Ned Dempsey and Joe

Can you tell us about mentors who played a significant role in your career growth?

In my career, several mentors have been monumental. Ned Dempsey, the company’s founder, imparted valuable insights into leadership and business ownership. Ron Weigel, who gave me a great opportunity, helped me hone my project management skills, technical knowledge, and taught me how to interact with clients effectively. Pete Capel, my first boss, guided me into aviation projects and grounded me in project management. Lastly, Dennis Fuller, a wise and even-tempered individual, influenced my approach to leadership and mindful decision-making.

Reflecting on your career, can you share a particularly impactful learning experience, whether a success or failure?

I recall two critical experiences that shaped my perspective. First was learning from both the mistakes and successes of senior colleagues while handling troubled projects; it underscored the importance of meticulous contract management and attention to technical details. No one wants to see a project failing, but it happens. Watching and participating in the course correction of those projects was a great learning opportunity. Second, I absorbed essential leadership lessons during some challenging financial periods for Century West, seeing firsthand how critical decisive and adaptable leadership is during those times. It’s fairly easy to run a company when everything is going well, and the money is coming in, but that’s not always the case. Those experiences were instrumental in forming my approach to handling successes and setbacks alike.

You’ve been involved in numerous runway projects. Can you share a challenging project and how you navigated through it?

A notable challenging project was the Redmond Airport Runway. This required closing the airport for a whole month to carry out the necessary work. Securing client buy-in and managing public relations were early hurdles we had to cross. The meticulous planning and innovative solutions we devised not only ensured we met our deadline but also enhanced the community’s infrastructure, turning initial skepticism into a successful reality.

Joe and Family

How has your leadership style evolved over the years, and what experiences shaped it?

My leadership style has a lot of influence from the sports teams I played on in my youth; I have a natural tendency towards loyalty and what you might call a coaching approach. I have learned to value teaching others to take on my role, fostering a culture of growth and opportunities. I believe strongly in empowering team members, promoting a collaborative environment where excellence is the goal rather than perfection. The trust placed in individuals to carry out their roles and valuing diverse communication styles have become central to my leadership philosophy.

What advice would you give to individuals entering the engineering field today?

For the newcomers in our field, I would emphasize embracing the many opportunities it offers. I advise patience and dedication, because experience and wisdom come gradually over time. I like to think it’s around the 10-year mark that most engineers gain a deeper sense of competence and understanding, so trust the process.  My path from a novice graduate to the role of President shows the possibilities and rewards the civil engineering field offers.

Joe speaks to the Century West team, as Dennis Fuller looks on

To 35 Years!

Joe’s loyalty and commitment to Century West Engineering are evident in his 35-year journey with the company. His dedication to nurturing talent, embracing challenges, and maintaining a growth mindset have contributed significantly to the firm’s success. Joe’s remarkable career journey serves as an inspiration for both aspiring and experienced engineers. As Century West celebrates this milestone in Joe’s career, we look forward to the continued success and growth of the company under his leadership.

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