Apr 5, 2022
"I can't think of a single day I dreaded going to work!"
Words spoken by a truly passionate man who helped build this multi-million dollar mechanical/electrical engineering firm from the ground up. Ron Mead was one of the four founding partners (along with Al Casey, Joe Straub, and Bill Liberto) who started M/E Engineering on July 11, 1991. They succeeded in growing M/E from four engineers sitting in one room to a $30M company with offices in four cities. From those humble beginnings, the firm has become a regional Northeast MEP business that consistently ranks in the top 100 MEP firms. He and all his colleagues over the years worked with passion, challenged one another, and helped make M/E into the great organization it is today. Within some of the challenging moments, Ron said, "I know some people might say I was a little negative at times...but when you start with nothing, you need to challenge people to do it right, so you never have to go back to nothing. Success is never guaranteed!"
Responsibilities As A Partner
"As a partner in the firm for 30 years, I strove to lift employees up and create a positive atmosphere that allowed each person to grow to their potential, design meaningful projects, and provide for their families." He stressed that when you run a business, you are responsible for everything from technical expertise on projects, guiding/training employees and ensuring the company is run in a fiscally responsible manner. With a sense of humor, he added "Oh, and occasionally taking out the trash. No job can be above or below you!"
Relationships Built On Longevity
M/E Engineering is proud of its diverse client roster which spans throughout the markets of healthcare, higher education, K-12, industrial/manufacturing, mixed-use, research/laboratories, government/institutional, and hospitality/entertainment. Since the beginning, Ron developed many of the client relationships M/E continues to maintain today. Among them are Monroe Community College, Rochester City School District, SWBR and Monroe County. He believes this, along with providing career guidance and direction to most of the current senior staff and partners, was the most crucial impact he had on the firm during his tenure.
The minute he started interviewing a candidate he thought to himself, "Is this a person I'd love to work with the rest of my life?" Ron always interviewed new staff with the expectation that this would be their job for life and treat them like this was their home. He recognized the responsibility of being a good employer and his goal with a new employee was to provide them with the opportunities and support to make them successful in their careers, as well as placing an importance on fostering healthy family and community relationships beyond the workplace. "I strived to lift employees up to the highest level and offer them challenges that would translate into stronger self-worth and pride in their work as engineers, providing solutions for their clients". He recognized that in an industry/society where it is easy and sometimes the norm to change jobs several times, he is incredibly thankful and appreciative for the loyalty people have shown to M/E over the years. "I'm proud our firm was able to provide work for a lot of families and to ultimately know we made their lives a little better!"
As an owner of the business, Ron was proud of all the projects with the M/E name on them. His kids could tell you, whenever they drove around NYS, he always pointed out the projects with pride. He said, "I truly believed that everyone put in their best effort and knew that I could brag about anything with the M/E name on it!"
Two jobs in particular that stand out to him were the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (Omega/Omega EP), and the Rochester Institute of Technology Central Heating and Cooling Plant. The Laboratory for Laser and Energetics because of the tight Temperature/Humidity/Cleanliness requirements, for what was at the time the worlds' largest direct drive fusion laser. The RIT Central Plant because of the sheer magnitude of the job. M/E designed a 9500 ton cooling/175MMbtu MTHW heating plant and a complete new hot/chilled water distribution system that served the entire 5M SF campus.
Ron deeply understood the value of enjoying life outside of work with his employees and colleagues. He helped to establish activities such as the Year End Celebration, Rochester Jazz Festival party, competitions with SWBR, etc. that encouraged interaction that would result in more meaningful work relationships. "I thought they were all important because it gave everyone a chance to know each other as people outside of the daily work environment. Sometimes we get so caught up in the projects that we lose sight of each other as individuals with families, and our own personal needs and interests. I particularly enjoyed the events that included clients for the same reasons."
When asked about a particular cause that stands out in his mind as having a positive impact on the community and perhaps changed his perspective, Ron answered: "Through my involvement with the Monroe Community College Foundation, I realized the only true way to change the trajectory of young disadvantaged people's lives is through education. The heartwarming success stories I heard as part of the Foundation made me realize how critical scholarships and financial aid are to improving people's lives. I helped establish the M/E Scholarship for AVID students and my wife and I plan to continue supporting it with our own funds."
Fond Memories Built On Hard Work, Humor, And Passion
"There were so many times laughter came easy. I think if you ask the people who worked at Humboldt Street and 150 Chestnut, they will tell you my laugh carried through the office…especially when Al and I got on a roll. The one story that puts the start of M/E in perspective is this: We had started M/E, were growing and chasing work hard. Because of the growth, the partners had not taken a paycheck in about a year. One day I came home from work and my wife had our standard low cost macaroni and broccoli dinner on the table. Remember, at the time, I had four kids and my wife did not work. She calmly said to me, 'I know you're having fun with your friends, but our credit cards are maxed, the cash from the home loan and the money we borrowed from your parents is gone. You need to either bring home a paycheck or get a REAL job!' We did start taking a modest paycheck after that!"
The M/E Experience
Ron's enthusiastic comments about his experience with the firm went something like this: "The whole thing was memorable…I couldn't have dreamed 30 years ago how successful we would become! It's funny, but I never dreaded going to work. Don't get me wrong…there were some tough problems and rough days, but I was always excited and knew the tougher the problem the more proud we would be of the outcome. We're in the business of solving problems and there's nothing more rewarding than completing a job with your team that made a difference in the world!"
"Lastly I would like to thank Joe, Al & Bill, the partners at M/E, the great engineers and staff, my clients and most of all my wife Jean and our family for the support and the opportunity to make a dream come true…thanks!!"
"Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." By that measure, Ron certainly has made a wonderful full life. Always giving to those around him.
I'm proud to have worked with him, proud to say he was one of my best coaches/mentors, proud of the work and the relationships with staff and clients he helped foster, but mostly proud to call him a friend.
You've always been a dedicated business partner, a compassionate friend, and a source of encouragement. Your positive attitude will truly be missed. I hope this next chapter in your life is as rewarding as the last."
- John Dredger - President