Advocacy for the Engineering Industry

We sat down with Jim and Joe Meads to discuss why advocacy is important to building and maintaining relationships. Joe serves as a Sr. Principal of Sain, and Jim is President and CEO. This year, Sain celebrates its 50th year and our success has been due, in large part, to our relationships and how the Meads have advocated and contributed to the growth of the business.

How would you describe your leadership and business philosophies?

Joe: My leadership and business philosophy is built around investing in relationships so that staff and clients know we care about them. I believe if I can help others succeed, then I am successful. Success always comes back to how well you build and develop relationships as well as leaders.

Jim:  Integrity is vitally important to being an effective leader and businessperson. I strive to set a positive example that reflects Sain’s core values and my personal Christian beliefs. Communication, collaboration, and a strong work ethic are keys to effectiveness. I genuinely want to be a Servant Leader, and I consider myself one. I serve others to help them in any way I can so they are successful. That includes my work family and our customers. I genuinely care about people.

How do you empower your employees to step into leadership roles?

Joe:  We provide training and mentoring until a person has reached a level of empowerment and feels comfortable stepping into a leadership role.

Jim: We encourage our staff to be strong leaders, which includes being leaders within their home, community, and at work. We provide training, coaching, and support. I love coaching our staff to become the best that they can be.

Why is it important to take on leadership roles in organizations outside of Sain?

Joe:  Being involved in leadership roles outside of Sain has helped me to grow personally and professionally. My leadership roles have raised the company’s stature, which has benefited Sain and me personally.

Jim: Anytime that we take on a leadership role in outside organizations, whether that be in our church, community, or a professional organization, we grow and learn from those experiences to become more effective leaders. We encourage our staff to give back and take leadership roles in outside organizations. Many staff have heard me say, “Be on the playing field, not just sitting in the stands.”

Jim became active at the national level in ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies) so we asked him how he got involved and what his responsibilities are.

Jim:  I have been actively involved in ACEC at the state and national levels for over ten years. I started attending meetings and chaired the ACEC Alabama Transportation Committee for about ten years. I am a Past President and serve as the National Director for Alabama. In that role, I serve as Alabama’s voting member on the ACEC National Board and as a liaison between the state and national organizations. I have also been active and serve on the ACEC National Transportation Committee.

Joe is active in ASCE Alabama (American Society of Civil Engineers), and we asked him why it is important to be a member of this organization.

Joe:  Being involved in ASCE has been a huge part of my professional career. I first became involved at the local level by being President of the Birmingham branch. Then I held positions on the state level before becoming President of the Alabama Section ASCE. Since 2015, I have served as the state advocacy captain of the AL Section ASCE. For over 20 years, I have represented the AL Section ASCE on the committee that makes appointments for the engineering board of licensure in Alabama.

We then asked why it is crucial for Jim and Joe to take on roles in advocacy.

Joe: As engineers, we have a duty to protect the health, common safety, and welfare of the public, so we must advocate for our profession to stay true to that purpose. It is also important to advocate for funding for future infrastructure projects and improvements. As the Advocacy Captain for ASCE Alabama, it has been an honor to lead press conferences in 2015 and 2022 for the release of the State of Alabama Report Cards. This has given me other opportunities to speak around the state and advocate for infrastructure funding.

Jim: I remember when I made my first group visit with ACEC to the Senate and House Office buildings in Washington D.C., I came away thinking that there is a revolving door of people visiting Congress to discuss important issues. If we are not talking to them about issues that are important to us, then who is?  ACEC is the voice of the engineering industry at the state and national levels.

We promote the business interests of the engineering profession. We have had some great successes in the last few years, including helping pass the Rebuild Alabama Act, passing an Anti-Indemnification Bill that helps with contracts, and Qualification Based Selection legislation for engineering firms. I also serve as the Trustee of the Alabama Engineers PAC. This PAC supports pro-business candidates who will advocate for business and engineering in Alabama.

How does Sain encourage others within the organization to become involved in community and professional organizations?

Joe: We financially support our employees to be involved in professional or volunteer organizations. Our owners set the example for our employees by modeling involvement themselves. We help them see how their involvement can help them grow personally and professionally.

Jim: We actively encourage our employees to become involved in other organizations. We support them and the organizations in those efforts.

In closing, we asked Joe and Jim how Sain’s involvement outside the organization will evolve over the next 50 years. They said that the leadership team would continue to mentor and support younger employees to become involved outside the company as part of their journey and growth within Sain.