Employee number thirteen

Nov 07, 2016

Jon F. Lindberg has been at the same firm for 36 years, so it’s safe to say he has a roof over his head and a room with a view.

By Liisa Andreassen Correspondent

He says he was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, and no doubt he was. Jon F. Lindberg, president of Massachusetts-based Gale Associates (Best Firm #4 Multidiscipline for 2016) began his career as a technician directly out of college. His role was to conduct evaluations of exterior building enclosure systems and observe construction repairs to those systems and assemblies (roofs, walls, windows, waterproofing). He was given opportunities for advancement as the firm grew – that firm was Gale – and this is his 36th year working there. He has been president since 2009.

A conversation with Lindberg.

The Zweig Letter: How have you seen Gale evolve over the past 36 years?

Jon Lindberg: When I started with the company, I was employee number 13. Today, we are 110 and growing. Gale was pretty much a two-discipline firm providing civil/site engineering and roof consulting. Since that time, we have grown to a five-discipline company (building enclosure design and consulting, athletic facilities planning and design, civil engineering, airport engineering, and planning and structural engineering). We are staffed with architects, engineers, planners, and other professionals in six offices along the East Coast (New Hampshire to Florida).

TZL: What are your key strengths? What do you feel the key strengths are for an effective leader?

JL: I believe my key strengths include the ability to listen, weigh the options, and make a decision. My decisions may not always be the best, but it keeps the firm moving. Staying organized, focused on goals, and hiring intelligent, driven employees are all important to successfully lead a firm.

TZL: How would you describe your leadership style?

JL: Involved, responsive, supportive, and committed.

TZL: To date, as president, what has been your greatest challenge?

JL: We have two ongoing challenges:

  • Finding, hiring, and retaining staff
  • Ownership transition – past and future

TZL: What is your vision for the future of Gale?

JL: Growth and creating opportunities for our staff. We will achieve this by bringing all of our disciplines to each of our offices, while remaining open and nimble to consider new opportunities for expansion.

TZL: Tell me about a recent project you are especially proud of and why.

JL: Honestly, I would have to choose at least five projects to represent our five disciplines. I am most proud of our ability to grow client relationships, which fuels our success.

TZL: How have you helped your firm to outperform some competitors? What do you feel sets you apart?

JL: We find and hire the best talent, invest in that talent, retain that talent, and then let them do their thing. Our people, our service, and our specialization are what set us apart from our competitors.

TZL: Is there any news you care to share about Gale projects or anything else?

JL: As mentioned above, we are expanding and growing Gale to bring all five disciplines to each of our six offices. When we initially decided to expand geographically, we did so as a specialist in building enclosure consulting. Now that each of our offices is established, we are successfully introducing aviation/civil/athletics to Florida and athletics/civil/structural to our mid-Atlantic offices. Our next goal is to expand services in our New Hampshire and Connecticut offices.

TZL: Are you married? Do you have children? Pets?

JL: I have been married for 36 years and have two successful, grown children. Currently, we have two dogs, but I would not rule out the potential for more in the future. My first grandchild is due to arrive this fall.

TZL: What’s one thing most people at the firm don’t know about you?

JL: I am pretty much an open book. It’s my nature to say what’s on my mind. I guess most would not know I have an allergy to melons – go figure.

TZL: Do you have a favorite vacation spot or a dream destination?

JL: So far, my best vacation has been to a Dude ranch in Wyoming. I took the vacation with my family years ago. We slept under the stars halfway up a mountain; it was memorable. Dream vacation? Anywhere off the grid.

TZL: What’s the last book you read (digital or print)?

JL: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (digital).

TZL: What’s the last movie you saw?

JL: Star Trek with my son. It seemed the same, only different.

TZL: What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

JL: “Relax, pause, and consider.” – Charlie Gale, the firm’s founder

TZL: Who is a leader you admire and why?

JL: My associate and friend, Ed Stewart. We have worked together for 30-plus years. He has helped grow Gale to what we are today. Ed has shown exceptional vision on how and what Gale needed to do to be a national expert in enclosures. Staff stays and has fun because of Ed. He doesn’t know it, but he helps to lead all of us, in one way or another.

TZL: When you’re not working, what types of activities do you enjoy?

JL: Hiking, fly fishing, biking, and golf. I guess if I can disconnect for a while, I want to do it.

TZL: What’s your favorite lunch?

JL: Basil pad thai or grilled cheese and tomato.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.