Technology alumnus builds a foundation of success

May 15, 2014

Tim Govert may have graduated from Indiana State University 20 years ago, but he's still leaving his mark on campus - literally.

One of the five founders of Patriot Engineering, Govert has conducted soil and concrete testing for Indiana State since 1990. The Dyer native has played an important part in the construction and renovation of iconic buildings on campus - the Landini Center for Performing and Fine Arts, John T. Myers Technology Center, Student Recreation Center, University Hall, Federal Hall, Pickerl Hall, and most recently, the Larry Bird statute and Reeve Hall, the first new residence hall in 40 years.

The testing that Govert and Patriot Engineering provide has made a fan of Steve Culp, construction project leader at Indiana State.

"Tim and his crew at Patriot are thorough in their testing to ensure we get the proper mix of concrete for our projects," Culp said. "That attention to detail ensures that our foundations adequately support the structure and last a very long time."

But that's only a small part of his world.

Govert got his start at Atec Associates, where he worked for seven years alongside three Indiana State alumni.

"In March of 1995, five of us broke off and formed Patriot Engineering," he explained.

"We didn't want to be a big company," he said. "We had experienced the corporate mentality. We wanted to be employee-centered, selective and offer high quality service."

Govert is amazed he made it through that first year.

"1995 was a huge year for me - I got married, started a new company, started a family and landed my first major client in Public Service Indiana, now known as Duke Energy. My head was spinning."

Govert had worked on the company's Wabash River Generating Station in the early 1990s, where he met his wife. In 2008, he was working on what he calls his most rewarding project - Duke Energy's Edwardsport facility, where he once again had the opportunity to work on a project with his wife.

"It was a $3 billion project," Govert explained. "We constructed cutting edge technology on a several hundred acre site."

Despite the site challenges and working seven days a week and holidays, it is still a project that Govert recalls fondly as a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

A close second would be as a member of the design-build team of the United States Penitentiary II at Terre Haute in 2002. Govert's involvement in building the new high security facility went from pre-bid, through geotechnical engineering and the completion of construction with a team of nationally-recognized construction managers and contractors.

"I still like getting dirty," Govert said, grinning. "It keeps me grounded and it's a good management style. The most enjoyable part of my job is that I get to be both on the business side and out in the field."

Patriot's work extends beyond Indiana. In addition to offices in Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Evansville, Lafayette and Fort Wayne, the company has locations in Carmi, Ill.; Dayton, Louisville and Nashville.

Greg Lacy, one of Govert's partners, manages construction projects and the newest office in Plaquemines Parish, just outside of New Orleans.

"We've been down there for 3-4 years rebuilding schools wiped out by Hurricane Katrina," Govert said, adding Patriot's newest office will be located in New Orleans.

"We are just rebuilding the structures; we're making them hurricane-proof so they can withstand future storms."

Govert is working with Enbridge Inc. on the Flanagan South pipeline project, a nearly 600-mile interstate crude oil pipeline running from Pontiac, Ill. to Cushing, Okla.

"It is currently the largest construction job in the United States," he said.

In addition to providing concrete and soil testing, quality control and maintaining an on-site lab, Patriot Engineering is also constructing eight pump stations along the pipeline, which is scheduled to come online this summer.

"The stations are located roughly every 100 miles," he said. "There are two each in Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma and one in Kansas."

Working in the field on this project has entailed a lot of driving, which Govert doesn't mind.

"I enjoy driving the route and enjoying Americana," he said.

Govert and his partners recently started a new business, Patriot Testing & Inspection, LLC, which is affiliated with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 in northwest Indiana and northern Illinois.

"It expands our current business by allowing us to provide union technicians in those areas," said Govert, who serves as the firm's president.

"Twenty years later and I'm starting something new again," he added with a chuckle.

Govert has seen many changes during his 25 years in the industry.

"Electronic transfer of documents has been huge," he said "The industry has gone from paper blue prints to downloading designs from web sites or receiving them as email attachments.

Modern convenience has its downfalls, Govert added.

"Paper blueprints were 98 percent accurate. Electronic blueprints are roughly 80 percent accurate and you figure out the rest on site."

But there is one thing that hasn't changed.

"Some of our soil tests were developed in the 1950s and they have stood the test of time," he said.

In talking to Govert, you'd think a career in construction was his childhood dream. Instead, it has been a journey of discovery.

His dad was an operating engineer and his childhood was filled with "way too many Tonka trucks and G.I Joes." Govert started out at the University of Wisconsin majoring in wildlife forestry but realized that wasn't what he wanted to do. He began working in construction when his best friend encouraged him to go back to school to get a degree. Govert found his way to Terre Haute in 1986 and has never left.

"Terre Haute has been a great place to live and do business," Govert said. "In 25 years in the business I've only lost money once - and that was just $30."

Indiana State gave him opportunities, in and out of the classroom.

Govert, a 1994 alumnus, participated in Army ROTC, receiving a commission in air defense artillery, and served the Indiana Army National Guard for six years. He was also a member of Sigma Chi fraternity.Looking back, he's grateful the curriculum was geared toward management and supervision and the opportunity to learn from knowledgeable faculty.

"Dr. Dennis Sapp was the smartest man I ever knew," Govert said. "He taught statics and strength of materials in the construction technology department. He was amazing. I learned so much from him."The class size also helped.

"At Indiana State I was one of 10 guys in a classroom," Govert said. "It was a much better atmosphere than a class of a couple hundred people."

The Sycamore bloodline can be found running throughout Patriot Engineering.

"Four board members are Indiana State grads. Three of us were classmates - Lacy and Jeff Young and I," Govert said.

A fourth alumnus, Richard Kraft, a 1975 chemistry graduate, works in the environmental consulting side of the business.

"It's been a company that was formed out of friendships," Govert said, adding that alumni of Indiana State's construction management program have been very successful in the industry.

"It makes me proud to be a Sycamore and an alumnus of the College of Technology," he said.

Govert and his partners are in the position to pay it forward - routinely employing Indiana State students as interns to give them valuable hands-on industry experience and networking opportunities.

"You can't expect them to be technicians all their lives," Govert said. "If I can get them on a job site to apply knowledge, network, learn management skills and see our managers in action, that will help them succeed in the industry."

 

Writer and contact: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3783 or paula.meyer@indstate.edu