Where to start? There are so many stories which result from over 46 years working for the same great company. I'll concentrate on one assignment which has had the greatest impact on my life
and that of my family. In January 1981, I was working in Muscatine as a hydraulic engineer, and was also getting significant experience in project management. My work experience up to that time had taken me to several locations within the U.S., Canada, and even Costa Rica and Jordan. I had only read about such exotic faraway places as Singapore and Hong Kong; had never
been to Hawaii or the Philippines; and knew nothing of Malaysia and Thailand. My geographic deficiency was about to change.
In late 1980 our International Division sold a World Bank financed project to evaluate the hydroelectric potential from small (mini-hydro) sites in the remote parts of peninsular Malaysia. The objective was to bring reliable electricity to villages that had the good fortune of being located in the vicinity of streams with hydro potential. At the end of the 18-month project we were to have completed the study and developed full designs and tender documents for at least 40 small (maximum 1.0 megawatt) hydroelectric plants.
The full-time team in Malaysia for the entire 18-month assignment involved Ken Herold as project manager, Ian McAlister as hydraulic engineer, and Wes Walker as electrical engineer. I was assigned as hydrologic engineer with three one-month trips to this intriguing country. After my first trip in February, it became necessary for Ken to come home for personal reasons. Gregs Thomopulos, as head of the International Division, asked if I would be interested in replacing Ken for the remainder of the project. I was interested but knew I needed to first see if it was a fit with my family. I asked Emma Mae; actually I said to her, "It would be a fantastic assignment but I know you probably wouldn't be interested in going with me." She thought about it for about one second and said, "Oh yes I would!" You see, while I had spent a month in an exotic Far East country with a balmy climate, she had been stuck in Iowa dealing with snow storms, cars that wouldn't start, and four teenage boys whose father was nowhere to be found. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when she readily agreed to the adventure!
I had to go back to Malaysia in early April. Emma Mae waited until our younger two boys, Dennis and Mark, were out of school in June to fly over. The older two, Stephen and Bryan, stayed in Iowa for the summer and then came over to join us. Steve had just graduated from high school and stayed in Malaysia for only about four months before coming back to the States to start college in January. But while he was in Malaysia, he became interested in the Chinese language through some newfound local church friends. He ended up four years later with a degree in Asian Studies and eventually an MBA degree. Not only did he become fluent in Mandarin, but he also married a lady from Taiwan and provided us with two Chinese/American grandsons. Thank you Stanley Consultants!
Let me digress a bit. Three years after the Malaysia adventure, we got another opportunity to go to the Far East for a hydroelectric assignment. This time it was Thailand in 1985. The assignment was for six months, but long enough for Emma Mae and the younger two boys to go with me. I'll give you the short version of this story. Dennis liked the country so wel lthat he went back in 1990 to work with some American missionaries. He came home at the end of the year with a young Thai lady who he married and they have provided us with two Thai/ American grandchildren. Thank you Stanley Consultants!
While I'm talking about grandchildren, our other two daughters-in-law are from Georgia and Texas, and they provided the other seven grandchildren. All our sons were able to go to college and to get advanced degrees. I'm mentioning this so that I can once again say, thank you Stanley Consultants (for being able to afford this)!
Now back to Malaysia. The job involved much investigative work in the jungles of Malaysia. In retrospect, we should have provided Ian and Wes with hazardous-duty pay. And they weren't the only ones. We had many Stanley Consultants representatives who came over to help with the design and to review our work; many of those also went to the jungle to evaluate the hydro potential. One very important visitor was Max
Stanley who came to review the hydroelectric design. What an honor to have this great engineering champion as part of our project team! As an added attraction, Max's trip was during a local holiday and we were able to enjoy a swim together in the Straits of Malacca. Life in Malaysia was interesting to say the least. The country is populated by roughly 1/3 each of native Malays, Chinese and Indian heritage, all
very hospitable and intriguing. We had members from all of these races as part of our field and office team. Even though we hired two local drivers, we all eventually became comfortable driving on the wrong (left) side of the road. We lived in a rented house in a nice neighborhood which came with a maid, gardener and guard. You guessed it; we all went through a tough transition when we came back to Iowa and had to do our own work!
Communication in the early 1980s was a little different than it is today. We used telex to communicate with the Muscatine office. We thought it was pretty nifty being able to send a telex from a local hotel at the end of one day, and get an answer back the next morning (since we were about 12 hours ahead of CDT; Muscatine worked while we slept).
Our children attended the International School of Kuala Lumpur which provided a very high level of education. Children of various international diplomats and business representatives from about 40 countries around the world all came together in this English speaking school. Emma Mae became involved in the school, first as a volunteer, then as their primary substitute teacher. American football was a strange sport for this soccer-loving part of the world, but it was played in Kuala Lumpurand Singapore. Twice a month, our boys, as part of the football team, flew to Singapore to play
the American school there.
At the end of the project assignment we had become quite familiar with the Malaysian countryside, jungles and small towns. We also learned to appreciate the knowledgeable and hardworking local engineering and support staff assigned to our project. We investigated hundreds of potential hydro sites and completed designs to provide electricity to some 45 remote villages. Where else can you get a job that is so rewarding, and at the same time gives you a free trip around the world?