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updated: 6/19/2017 9:55 AM

Coffee Break: Steve Knowles, CEO of EN Engineering LLC

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Q: Describe your company.

A: EN Engineering provides comprehensive and dependable engineering, consulting, and environmental services to pipeline companies, utilities and industrial customers.

The company was started 15 years ago in Illinois. We have expanded to 17 locations across the country.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: Yes. We anticipate growth in 2017 and plan to add staff. In fact, we are looking for select personnel now.

We will continue to invest in our existing sites and are looking for additional locations this year.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: They are the same every year: to execute our strategy and continue to focus on delivering the highest quality services to meet our customer needs.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: The industry is primarily served by an aging workforce. So there is a strong need to attract and retain new talent.

This talent has the daunting task of keeping up with the repair and replacement of our country's existing infrastructure.

A number of regulations impact infrastructure and our industry, so we are mindful of the changing regulatory environment as well.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

A: Build for the long term; don't lose sight of your vision and mission.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: Something I learned early in my management career that I think is still true today: People with a passion perform, and that yields profits.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: Business leaders who put people first.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: We have 17 offices across the country serving markets as diverse as gas compression installations to pet food.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I am pursuing my pilot's license and I am constantly working to improve my golf game.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: I'm a tablet reader. Right now it's loaded with "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni, as well as training videos and materials for piloting.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Thinking about how we can execute better to win more work to provide more jobs.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

A: I like to build things; teams, skills, projects, etc. So I would be building something somewhere.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: In high school I was paid to sweep the parking lot of a grocery store. You'd be amazed and appalled at the things people leave in a parking lot!

Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?

A: Funny things happen every day, if you look for it. A day doesn't go by that we aren't having a laugh at something.

On a macro level, though, I have found that when looking back on every disappointment, each was followed by tremendous opportunity. Not humorous, but still a funny thing.

Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.

A: I follow sports guys and recently I started following our current U.S. president.

• We are looking for company leaders to profile in our Coffee Break feature. Contact editor Kim Mikus at kmikus@dailyherald.com.

-- Kim Mikus

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