We celebrated JMTE’s ninth birthday this week by doing something we’ve always done well – preparing (and consuming) a feast. On the menu was macaroni and cheese, and lots of it, in honor of our owner and founder Mark Teague. Staff members brought spicy mac n’ cheese, multiple-cheese mac n’ cheese and family favorite mac n’ cheese, from recipes handed down through generations. And salads, lots of salads. A fun time was had by all.
Fun is a recurring theme at JMTE and it’s been that way from the beginning. In the past nine years, we’ve had fun working on hundreds of traffic and transportation projects mostly in the Southeast, but as far away as Texas and Alaska. We’ve had fun developing relationships with the best civil engineers, developers, attorneys, and local governments around, partnering and problem-solving through all kinds of unique and challenging community situations.
J.M. Teague Engineering and Planning began on March 1, 2010 in the back of Fun Things, Etc., a toy store in downtown Waynesville, NC, that was owned and operated by Mark’s wife Denise. The firm was conceived by Mark, who’d spent the previous 18 years as an engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. That background with NCDOT was instrumental in helping JMTE get going. Many of our first clients were folks Mark met in the Waynesville community, or even the toy store, who needed help obtaining a driveway permit or navigating NCDOT requirements.
As word began to spread about us, we focused on providing traffic engineering to local governments under 10,000 population, small businesses, schools, community colleges and community associations. Our initial service area encompassed roughly 30 counties west of Interstate 77 in North Carolina. Today our network extends throughout the Southeast and we provide more than 20 transportation and traffic-related services across eight distinct business areas: Forensic Engineering; Transportation, Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning; Land Use and Community Planning; Wayfinding and Mapping; Education and Training; Facilitation and Collaboration; Traffic Engineering and GIS and Infrastructure Assessment.
We’ve been fortunate enough to grow steadily. In mid-2010, we hired our first employee other than Mark, who worked part-time to assist with field data collection. In 2011, we added another data technician, a part-time office assistant and we got our first forensic case. By 2012, we’d outgrown the toy store space, so we moved to a larger office space, and we hired an additional engineer. Now we have a staff of 18 and are continuing to grow.
These days, in order to keep staff members in the loop about things, Mark sends out a group email about the past week’s activities and what lies ahead in the coming week. Sometimes it arrives early Friday evening, sometimes around 10 p.m. It usually begins by acknowledging what a whirlwind week it has been and ends with a reminder to hold onto our hats for another wild ride starting Monday. But just like a mac n’ cheese feast, wild rides are fun, too. We love the challenges and the opportunities that spring from the work we do, and the folks we get to work with. You never know who you’re going to meet or what they are going to mean to you.
We learned that lesson early, while it was still just Mark working out of the toy store. One of the activities Denise set up to engage her customers involved attempting to shoot a flying monkey toy through a hula hoop. One day, a gentleman named Dave Gildersleeve came in the store and tried his hand at the game. Today, several years later, Dave is our business developer and the newest member of the JMTE team. Small world, huh.
It’s been a great nine years and we thank everyone in our network for being a part of it. One of these days, you should come over and celebrate with us. There’s plenty of feast to share.