The Kleinfelder Group
2.9 of 5 57 reviews
www.kleinfelder.com San Diego, CA 1000 to 5000 Employees

The Kleinfelder Group Reviews

Updated Mar 28, 2014

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2.9 57 reviews

                             

55% Approve of the CEO

The Kleinfelder Group President and CEO Bill Siegel

Bill Siegel

(42 ratings)

53% of employees recommend this company to a friend
57 Employee Reviews
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Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "Great opportunity if you are motivated to take it"
    in 3 reviews
  • "Lots of opportunity for advancement, excellent large projects"
    in 3 reviews
Cons:
  • "This is also an 'old boys' network and politics and favoritism is how you move up in the firm, not necessarily your good work"
    in 6 reviews
  • "Upper management turns a blind eye to the chaos, only to dismiss logical suggestions for improvement from their staff"
    in 5 reviews
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

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Great Place to work and tons of Opportunities

Staff Professional (Current Employee)

I have been working at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 3 years

ProsLots of interesting and challenging project and get hand on experience with all sorts of projects

Conscannot retain good management peoples, have seen a lot of technical people leaving. Management only looks at your utilization. One proposal a week would destroy your utilization down to like 80% which is like 15% away from your goal.

Advice to Senior ManagementListen to what others say, be patience, do not get personal when engineer did wrong or do not listen to you.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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OK

Engineer (Current Employee)
Boston, MA

I have been working at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than a year

ProsOpportunity to grow your career

ConsSome weeks require long hours

Advice to Senior ManagementNone

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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If you can drive your career - great place to work

Project Management (Current Employee)

I have been working at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 8 years

Prosleadership manages healthy balance between profit and employee satisfaction; if willing to relo, willing to work hard - GREAT place to work longterm

Consit's a consulting job .... not a government job.... there are highs and lows

Advice to Senior Managementmore stability needed, too many changes too quickly

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Good company, opportunity, worked here for 3 years

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

I have been working at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 3 years

ProsGreat opportunity if you are motivated to take it

ConsToo much emphasis on hard data rather than human experience and other intangible factors

Advice to Senior ManagementRemember that not all your technical employees are engineers....

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Pretty good place to work

Project Manager (Current Employee)

I have been working at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 10 years

ProsRapid advancement for high performers, interesting projects, easy to relocate within the company

ConsOn-going multi-year restructuring is stagnating growth.

Advice to Senior ManagementGet it together and stick with a plan. Find some accountability within senior management for failed changes.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Great place to work... if you know the right people.

Project Engineer (Current Employee)
Oakland, CA

I have been working at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 5 years

ProsIf you are in an office with key senior leaders and you have good mentors, it's a great company to work for. Lots of opportunity for advancement, excellent large projects.

ConsIf you are in an out-of-the-way office and/or working for a boss who doesn't advocate for you, it can be a dead-end for junior employees.

The company recently discontinued overtime pay for all but field technicians - you'll be salaried with "opportunities for bonuses" that rarely make up for what the overtime would have provided.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Great company with growing opportunities

Staff Professional I (Current Employee)

I have been working at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 3 years

Prosnational clients, supportive management, several avenues for learning, continues to expand delivery lines, performance bonuses, fantastic medical benefits

ConsNot a competitive pay scale, no overtime compensation, no clear direction for lower staff to continue to move up, politics and favoritism plays a role in selection for special opportunities.

Advice to Senior ManagementMake enough room in the performance bonus budget so everyone has the potential to earn the annual maximum, that way by the end of the fiscal year, we can continue to strive for those bonuses without the feeling that we will not be compensated. Additionally, I would look into developing more clear guidance to younger staff on how to achieve promotions to project engineering and project management roles. At times, it can seem as though younger staff is spinning their wheels rather than working toward a concrete goal. Do your research instead of taking the suggestion of other upper management when it comes to selecting staff for spotlight opportunities.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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I missed Kleinfelder's heyday

Senior Engineer (Former Employee)
Sacramento, CA

I worked at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 5 years

ProsThe company has an aggressive, ambitious international growth strategy that creates opportunities for entrepreneurial professionals who have design firm experience, nation-wide and world-wide market exposure, and who are recognized, world-class technical leaders. The professional environment is fast-paced, outwardly-focused, and continually changing. The company is privately-held. Management frequently asserts that the company will remain privately-held. The company is entirely focused on shareholder value, so the potential exists for highly-compensated individuals to become enriched as direct owners of significant equity.

ConsKleinfelder was well known for its commitment to its employees. It was a respected geotechnical and environmental engineering firm with a strong presence in the Western US and long-term relationships with local clients. The company ambitiously expanded operations nationwide through growth and acquisition, with reasonable success. The company could boast of its remarkably low turnover rate and the longevity of its employees. Many, many individuals had been with the firm for ten, twenty, even thirty years. I knew several people who had never worked for another firm. These are the reasons I joined Kleinfelder.

Notice that all the verbs are in the past tense. Around 2008, the company changed its leadership and its strategic direction. The company's stated goal became to multiply revenue by a factor of five, to a billion dollars a year. This was to be accomplished within five years by morphing into an engineering design firm, and would be implemented by re-branding, strategic hires, reorganization, organic growth, aggressive acquisition, entry into unfamiliar markets, and new relationships with clients that represented potential multimillion dollar annual revenues.

Kleinfelder made the conscious decision to forego the opportunities in the local markets that had been its bread and butter, in preference for huge national and international customers. There was no safety net, no Plan B. In fairness, the company succeeded in winning an impressive number of contracts with very large clients. However, the revenues represented by these wins did not offset the loss of revenue from the company's customary work in local markets. Backlog disappeared and the layoffs commenced. Too late, the company realized that transition from a well-respected firm that was "local everywhere" to a nationally-recognized design firm didn't work out as expected. Management decided to pour large amounts of capital into local marketing efforts to recapture clients who had been neglected for the preceding five years. It didn't work very well.

The core of the company is gone. Employees who had been with the firm for twenty years and more were fired or allowed to leave (or encouraged to leave). Good customers were lost. What's left is a "me too" design firm with world-wide aspirations and no name recognition, that is led by management that has never accomplished anything remotely like the firm's stated goals, and doesn't know how.

Despite assertions to the contrary, employees are no longer valued. Loyalty is no longer valued. Only shareholder equity matters, although the organization is curiously inefficient. While the company boasts of a "flat structure", the fact is that this company of 1800 employees has not only a CEO, a COO, and a CFO, but also a chief technical officer (CTO), a chief information officer (CIO), a chief counsel, and dozens of vice presidents and direct owners. To support all this management bloat, utilization goals of 95 percent are the norm. Management spins the condition of the firm as a result of a bad economy, and that the firm's competitors are operating the same way, with similar results. It's unclear whether management actually believes this, but the rank-and-file certainly don't.

The various personality flaws of individual managers won't be discussed, but one anecdote will illustrate the cultural issues at the top of the organization. One manager, during the keynote address at a company-wide technical gathering (attended by nearly 1000 employees), displayed incredible insensitivity when he likened the company's new strategic vision to the Spaniards' conquest of the New World. He stated that the Conquistadors' success could be attributed to Cortez' decision to "burn the boats", which was intended to signify that there would be no going back to Kleinfelder's old business model. I could only imagine what employees of Native American heritage felt at that moment. Unbelievably, the same manager reprised the "burn the boats" comment at the same gathering one year later.

Kleinfelder was once a wonderful place to work in a genuine family atmosphere. Now it is just another engineering company that wishes to be a juggernaut, but bears more resemblance to the Titanic.

Advice to Senior ManagementHire competent management that has already been where you want to go. Your focus is become a world-class design firm. That's admirable; however, your management lacks the experience and expertise to accomplish your ambitious goals. Consequently, the results are predictably amateurish. Your company brand entirely fails to project the image of a competent design firm, much less a nationwide or worldwide leader. You would greatly enhance the value of your equity if you retain skilled leadership and then get out of the way.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Used to be a good company, and still has potential if major changes happen

Senior Engineer (Former Employee)
Pleasanton, CA

I worked at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 10 years

ProsI worked at Kleinfelder for many years and since the early days it was a people oriented company. That has changed now, but if you are entrepreneurial then you may still do well there. The people at the firm are great, at least the ones you work with day to day, and there is some potential for career growth if you play your cards right.

ConsAbout 3 years ago there was a decision to remake Kleinfelder into a design firm. Almost none of senior managment had ever worked at at a good design firm. Progress to that goal is very slow, and company growth has really only been by buying other companies, while the core company experiences layoffs. There has been a major exodus of many of the most talented people, particularly in the senior ranks of the firm, a number of whom have been there 20 years or more. Everytime a key person leaves most of what we hear is why it is good they are gone, not anything about the reasons they left and how there may be something to pay attention to and changes to be made.

The core of the firm has been basically left to molder and the result is the firm is no longer people oriented like it used to be. What was a great people-oriented culture going back to the 1960s has been pretty much destroyed in just a few years. Employees are treated like lines on a spread sheet, nothing more, certainly not like professionals. Pay and benefits are quite poor. Senior managment will even admit this off the record, but are doing essentially nothing about it. The CEO just continually gives out the excuse about how the economy is just not that strong, but other firms are doing very well and their stock prices are shooting up. When it comes to medical benefits, which continually erode adn get more expensive, they keep blaming Obamacare. There is no 401(k) match and the ESOP, so called profit sharing plan, pays at best a paltry sum to emplyees accounts when it pays at all. When I left my compensation went up in every way at a different firm.

Basically what this company needs desparately is a change in senior managment, before the company value drops any more, like the massive drop a year ago. The CEO turned the reins of the company over to the COO and seems to like running around giving speeches outside the company. I really think he is over his head, or just too lazy to do what he should and actually pay attention to running and growing the company. The COO has made the company very bureaucratic and sticking to processes are more important than actually doing the work. Everything has to be tracked and put in the right category or bucket. Employees are no longer treated respectively. Senior managment do not listen to ideas from employees, when what they are doing so obviously does not work, as evidenced by the significant drop in stock value. The Board of Directors is stacked by the COO and CEO so they won't do anything to change things either. It is really too bad to see such a good company sink down, but I guess it is not the first to do so.

Advice to Senior ManagementListen to the employees and start treating them like the smart professonals they are. Then get a new CEO and COO, probably from outside the firm. If they truly cared about he company and its employees something will happen, but I doubt it will.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Acceleration

Special Inspector (Former Employee)
Redmond, WA

I worked at The Kleinfelder Group full-time for more than 5 years

ProsThis is a learning enviroment with a large footprint and a lot of oppertunities. Employee Owned, Profit sharing.

ConsIt can be difficult to be recognized for your individual contributions at times

Advice to Senior ManagementStay away from residential work for 5 more years

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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