By Dan Shingler | Crain’s Cleveland Business | Published November 11, 2018
Sit down with David Krock and one of the first things you’re likely to notice is how easily he connects and engages in conversation. You probably wouldn’t guess you were talking to an engineer if you didn’t know ahead of time. He takes civil engineering to a new level.
Hailing from near Toledo, working on infrastructure was in Krock’s blood — his great-grandfather graduated from Ohio State University as a mining engineer and his father was a planner at Toledo Edison.
Krock’s taken it a step or two further, though. As director of OHM Advisors in Akron and Cleveland, he works
on and manages infrastructure projects large and small. Often, they’re critical projects for cities in Ohio that aren’t big enough to have their own civil engineering departments, but are big enough to have engineering challenges.
He lives in New Franklin, south of Akron, where the suburbs turn farmlike and there’s room for wife Tiffany’s passion for horse riding. His daughter, Ellie, attends Manchester High School and his son, Mitch, attends the University of Cincinnati.
You’re running offices in Cleveland and Akron, and you live just outside Akron. But where are you from exactly?
Toledo — Oregon, right outside of Toledo. The east side, right along the lake.
And what were you like growing up? What was high school Dave like?
High school Dave was certainly into sports. Baseball, basketball. I played in the band a little while, but I didn’t last there. I had a little too much fun. … It’s high school, you enjoy your friends!
You help people build things. So are you really an architect or an engineer?
I’m a civil engineer — an Ohio State graduate.
What sort of things do civil engineers do in Northeast Ohio?
In our world, at least with our firm OHM, a civil engineer could be doing wastewater treatment, highway work, bridge work, working in communities on other infrastructure, or they could be doing development work. Anything that has to do with earth and infrastructure is civil engineering.
So, a lot of stuff you do goes underground. People don’t get to see it?
That’s true. I joke that we’re so proud of our work, we bury it!
Would you recommend civil engineering to a young person today?
Absolutely. If you like working with people and making life better for people, it’s a great place to be.
Does the nature of your work mean that most of it is for government at some level?
Most of our clients here are communities. We call ourselves a community advancement firm, and we work with 11 different cities here. We help them find money, help evaluate their systems and really just things that help improve the viability of their cities and the lives of residents.
What are some communities you work with, where we’ve probably driven over some of your work?
Our Cuyahoga (County) communities are Garfield Heights, Newburgh Heights and East Cleveland. In Summit County, we work with Reminderville, Boston Heights and Clinton. And we also work in Massillon, in Stark County and the city of Huron out west. We have a few smaller ones, too. It’s really the core of our business (working with small cities). … It’s typically a city that doesn’t have its own civil engineering department.
You recently moved your Akron office to downtown, and the city is working on a sewer project costing more than $1 billion. Are you hoping to work with them?
We just moved down there in April, and we’d love to work with the city. They’re somebody we think we can do a great job for. But another reason we’re downtown is that talent is so important. … The younger engineers and kids out of school love working downtown.
Do you like being in downtown Akron?
Love it — it’s fantastic. The city has really done a great job downtown and is transforming it. I can walk to meet clients, whether it’s lunch or a beer after work. It’s great being downtown. … And we feel very strongly about investing in the communities in which we work.
When did you start thinking about becoming a civil engineer?
I was always the kid who loved to play in the dirt. I loved Tonka trucks. But engineering goes back in my family to my great-grandfather, who was a mining engineer out of Ohio State.
Now, you’re a CEO, too?
I’m the director of our Northeast Ohio office, so I’m in charge of Cleveland and Akron for OHM.
Do you miss engineering?
Ha! How did you know? It is funny. I do get excited now when I get time to brainstorm on a project or I get to walk out on a construction site and get my shoes dirty.
You merged your firm Krock Esser Engineering with OHM in 2015. Has that been a good move?
Yes. In a 20-person firm, it’s hard to find the right kind of talent. Now, as a 500-person multidisciplinary firm, we can, and it’s great to be able to find the kind of talent you need.
How many in your two offices?
We have 26 in Akron, and we have 18 in Cleveland.
You played baseball in high school and were a pretty good pitcher. Any regrets you didn’t pursue baseball?
That’s funny, but nah. I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.
The Krock file
Favorite thing to watch on TV
Ohio State football
Favorite baseball pitcher, all time
Favorite weekend activity
“Sporting events, whether it’s the Indians, Buckeyes or whatever.”
Favorite thing about his job
“The communities and the people we get to work with.”
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