John Sayles


December 2, 1963 was my first day at Stanley Engineering Company. I had interviewed with the company the previous month and was hired by Dick Stanley, Head of the Report Group. My family joined me on Christmas night and wanted to know what the smell in the air was. (Muscatine has various smells associated with different local manufacturing facilities such as Heinz and the Grain Processing Corporation.) I told them the locals say, "It is the smell of money."

I have many memories of working at Stanley Consultants and wrote down a few to share.
When working domestically:

  • My first time charges were to project 3447, the Bedford, Ohio Planning Program and 3599, the Lower Des Plaines Valley Water Resources Study.
  • Late at night, I found myself scraping ice off the wing of the company plane. We were in Spencer, Iowa and needed clean wings to get back to Muscatine without a crash.
  • Lowell Titus spent time educating me on how wastewater plants worked, so I would know what to look for when viewing and writing about utilities for the Corning/Adams County, Iowa Comprehensive Plan.
  • Working with Mike Knott (Muscatine) for 17 years on the same environmental impact statement.
  • My ride in a police car to the local airport in Mentor, Ohio was diverted when there was a reported robbery. Instead of going to the airport, we rushed to the scene, the officers with their shotguns drawn.
  • Losing a lot of good members during the company cutbacks of the 1980s.
  • Hosting Japanese clients on two tours of the Mississippi River in 1993.
  • Working with the Phoenix and Salt Lake City offices on environmental reports for highway projects.
  • Power plant siting studies in Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
  • Working all night to dictate two environmental reports for the Postal Service.
  • An airplane landing on Highway 3 (the main road between Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska), so the pilot and passengers could eat and drink at the Healy Roadhouse.
  • Delivering comprehensive plan reports to the Carroll, Harrison, and Shelby Counties Iowa Planning Commission in my VW Microbus; while Ron Gear and Dean Johnson played gin rummy on the stacks of boxes in the back.
  • Leading master planning efforts for the Iowa State University Research Park.
  • Sunday dinner at Bob Jacobs' home in Salt Lake City.

When working overseas:

  • Attending the first underground mass since World War II in one of the world's largest caves at Postojna, Slovenia.
  • Having mortar rounds land within 200 yards of the Presidential Palace in Baghdad, Iraq on a Sunday night.
  • Deep sea fishing from a client's boat on the way to do a hurricane damage assessment on Andros Island, Bahamas.
  • Seeing a Muscatine company, Bandag, tire service shops in Jamaica and Slovenia.
  • Meeting the manager of the power plant at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic with Lowell Titus; and finding out he was an Iowa State graduate like Lowell.
  • Exploring the country of Slovenia on weekends.
  • Find new HON file cabinets in government offices in St. Kitts and Nevis, from the Muscatine HON company.
  • Jogging and walking in Alaska, Dominical Republic, Iraq, and places in between.
  • Resisting urging from a passenger to drive through a gate where there were armed guards, so we could view the Port of Haina, Dominican Republic, where the company had designed several projects.
  • Mike Knott and I losing our way when following abandoned railroad tracks that could be an alternative to the North Coast Highway in Jamaica. We asked two farmers along the road if the track was nearby. The older farmer said, "See that goat down there? Go to the goat and turn left, and you will find the railroad."
  • Being part of the Stanley/Baker team that developed and prioritized projects funded by the United States to rebuild Iraq after the 2003 war.

Two things stand out during my Stanley Consultants experience. The first is working with great clients on great projects. The second, and most rewarding, has been working with outstanding company members on a variety of projects for over almost 50 years.

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