Sometimes giving back is a personal mantra. And sometimes, as is the case with Hallberg Engineering, it’s a company culture that starts at the top and filters down to all the employees. When Rick Lucio and Paul Fettinger bought the engineering business in 2013, where they both had worked for more than 17 years, that giving-back mentality was as important to them as the engineering principles that guide them. And they were both happy when that opportunity presented itself.
“I think we just got to a point where we both wanted to start a business, or take over a business, or do some kind of ownership,” Lucio says. “We kept the name because it’s a very well-known name in the engineering field here in the Twin Cities.”
“And even within the White Bear community,” Fettinger adds. Most of the 38 employees, including Fettinger and Lucio, live in the community and have kids going to White Bear Lake schools—buildings where Hallberg helped design the mechanical and electrical systems.
“The lighting, HVAC ventilation, air conditioning systems, anything mechanically, electrically, that is needed to support a building … that’s what we design,” Lucio says. And they design for everything from schools to retail buildings, with clients like the White Bear Lake Area schools, Hamline University, Essentia Health in Duluth and various private retailers.
While they love their out-state projects, Lucio and Fettinger make a point to give back here in town.
“I’ve worked very hard to get where I’m at in my career,” Fettinger says, “but I’ve been very fortunate along the way to be surrounded by good coworkers, good mentors. So it’s important to me to try to give back to employees and the community.”
Fettinger and Lucio both have kids going through the school system. And though Lucio grew up in south Texas, his wife grew up in a house on Eighth Street and went to the same schools as his kids are in right now. “We could be anywhere in the Twin Cities but we prefer to stay here in this community,” Lucio says. “That’s why, when we see an opportunity to sponsor the scoreboard at the high school, we do it.”
“Our families are here, our business is here,” Lucio says. “We want to support White Bear in everything they do, and all the functions they put out and all the fundraisers. That’s why we do it.”
Aside from scoreboard sponsorships, Fettinger is a board member of the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, along with marketing coordinator Andrea Loppnow, and Lucio recently completed a three-year term on the board for the 916 Education Foundation. The company funds an engineering scholarship and employees volunteer for countless school activities and community fundraisers.
“If the school district we’re working with (and we work with over 50 school districts in the Twin Cities on their projects), if they ask for sponsorship or vendor,” Lucio says, “we say ‘yes.’ We say ‘yes’ no matter what.”
Lucio sees giving back as an opportunity to set an example for his team. “If our staff sees us, the two owners of the company, give back to foundations and to organizations and volunteering here and there, it spreads throughout [all the] 33 people out there,” he says. “They know we’re trying to do a good job here.”
And, Fettinger adds, “it puts energy back into the staff.”