Sain Associates Through 40 Years: The 70s

Posted by on Jul 31, 2012 in 40th Anniversary | 4 Comments

In August, 2012, Sain Associates celebrates its 40th anniversary! What started as a small company in 1972, has grown and changed significantly over the years. We thought it would be fun to go back through each of our four decades and reminisce about what has made Sain such a great company over the years AND look toward the future.

Sain’s first office, the Eshelman Building

Sain Associates began growing out of $2,000 and a modest brick building where wide-sideburned employees came to work wearing leisure suits, large wing collars and flared pants. They used typewriters, not computers, and secretaries spent much of their time using dictation machines, mimeographs and filing actual papers in metal filing cabinets.

Charles H. Sain Associates was incorporated in Jefferson County, Alabama in 1972. At that time, the business consisted of consulting engineering services and land surveying.  The initial total of authorized capital stock was $2,000.

These were humble beginnings based on our founder’s vision for transforming the relationship between engineers and property developers to one of mutual respect where the engineer provides leadership and problem solving on behalf of the client.

Our first building was known as the Eshelman Building, located at 1812 28th Avenue South in downtown Homewood.  The firm stayed in that building until 1976 when it moved to larger space in a neighboring building, known as the Benson Building. These buildings were torn down in the early 2000s to make way for Homewood’s downtown redevelopment.

In the first decade, Sain numbered projects sequentially.  This system was changed after several years in favor of a year-based system that we still use today.

Early job list for projects #40-63

Keep in mind, this was the last pre-PC decade. The most advanced technology around was an IBM electric typewriter with a type ball instead of individual letter hammers (known as the IBM Selectric).

Letters and other documentation were dictated and transcribed by a secretary with a dictation machine. All project documents were paper and filed in metal filing cabinets.

Photocopiers were very expensive so many small businesses relied on mimeograph machines.  If more than one copy of a typed document was needed, the secretary inserted carbon paper between the letterhead and a second sheet of paper so a duplicate could be made during the typing process.

The 1970s was the decade of enclosed shopping malls.  Much of Sain’s business during that time was focused on site engineering for construction of regional malls.

Here are a few of the malls we worked on during those years:

  • Macon Mall, Macon, GA
  • Santa Rosa Mall, Mary Esther, FL
  • Greenwood Mall, Greenwood, SC
  • Beltline Mall, Decatur, AL
  • Eastdale Mall, Montgomery, AL
  • Hot Springs Mall, Hot Springs, AR
  • Anniston Mall, Anniston, AL
  • Farragut Mall, West Knoxville, TN
  • Paducah Mall, Paducah, KY
  • Towne Mall, Elizabethtown, KY
  • Kenner Mall, Kenner, LA
  • Quintard Mall, Oxford, AL

Sain Associates, Inc., is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, with offices in Cullman, Alabama, Pulaski, Tennessee and Mandeville, Louisiana. Sain is a site engineering, traffic/transportation engineering and planning and land surveying firm with experience in more than thirty states.


  1. Sain Associates Through 40 Years: The 80s |
    August 7, 2012

    […] Skip to content HomeAbout Sain Associates ← Sain Associates Through 40 Years: the 70s […]

  2. Kaj V Jensen
    August 8, 2012

    Congratulations with the first 40 years.

    Keep on trucking.

    Kaj V Jensen
    Jensen Shipping Company, Inc.
    The Sain Centre
    Birmingham, AL 35209

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