For Mike Moll, department manager of mechanical engineering at Luckett & Farley, it wasn’t necessarily elaborate new construction or cutting-edge design that led to his career at an architecture/engineering firm.
It was his desire to have an impact on the environment.
“Forty percent of all energy consumption in the U.S. is from commercial and residential buildings,” says Moll. “People tend to get caught up in the transportation industry, but this is even more than that.”
Moll says a big part of his job is to present clients with options that meet their needs, but also to educate them on new technologies they may not know about — particularly solutions that are both energy efficient and cost-effective. A win-win for the client and the environment.
About Luckett & Farley
One of the oldest continuing architectural firms in the country, Luckett & Farley is responsible for some of Louisville’s most historic landmarks — including the City Hall Clock Tower and Churchill Downs.
More current and very recognizable examples of their work can be seen all across the city and state. From facilities at both University of Louisville and University of Kentucky, to bourbon distilleries and whisky cooperages across the region, to the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion, local hospitals, and the Norton Commons and West End YMCAs, — so much of our cityscape can be traced back to Luckett & Farley.
“I love passing buildings on the expressway that I worked on and that we were a part of,” says Moll. “But in my time here I’ve worked on buildings from Alaska to Florida. We certainly have national reach.”
The firm’s work not only spans the nation, but also many different types of industries.
“Some firms in our industry are more niche-oriented, we have a broad client base” says Moll. “We’ve got industrial facilities, commercial spaces, higher education, healthcare. It’s a wide variety of projects that come across my desk; not all the same industry or building.”
All under one roof
Often, when organizations pursue building projects with different firms that each specialize in a different trade, they act as subcontractors to the architect.
“You can imagine how that work flows a little differently,” says Moll. “Here, I’m sitting five feet away from the architect or structural engineer. There’s no coordinating by phone or email. We’re right at the same desk. That’s a good thing when you think of how complex a building really is to construct.”
And it’s not just the clients who benefit from this integrated approach.
Moll continued, “I understand buildings and the construction industry so much better having worked elbow to elbow with other trades. I’m getting to learn about their specialty, about project management for the whole design team, as opposed to being in my engineering bubble getting tunnel vision.”
The ME team
So what exactly does the mechanical engineer do at an architectural, engineering and interior design firm?
Moll uses a body anatomy analogy. “We’re almost like the heart and lungs of a building — air conditioning, heating, plumbing, and ventilation.”
As Moll puts it, “Building systems have come a long way since fireplaces and box fans in windows. It’s up to us to stay on top of new technologies and distill that down to a level that makes sense to an owner, so they can make the best, most informed decisions.”
“Then when they cut the ribbon on their new building, it’s everything they’ve wanted and more.”
So what does Moll look for in an employee?
“Engineers are generally smart folks. They have to be to get the degree they’ve gotten. What makes the difference for me are social skills. Translating our clients’ vision into efficient and cost-effective systems is critical. Even as engineers, we’re interacting with the client, informing them, teaching them.”
Moll describes the culture as one of “professionalism” but is quick to clarify, “Professional but not stuffy. It’d say ‘relaxed professionalism.’”
Folks are eager to help each other out and work together he says, thanks in part to their office’s open floor plan (located in the evolving south of Broadway area downtown).
The company has also been repeatedly recognized for its next-generation people practices. They’ve earned seven consecutive “Kentucky Best Places to Work” awards no doubt due to programs like the Luckett & Farley Leadership Institute and their impressive employee-ownership.
Moll, who’s been at the firm eight years and a graduate of the Leadership Institute, is a testament to the firm’s talent philosophy. Now in a manager role at the firm, he describes his leadership style as one that enables and equips his team.
“Everyone’s plate is full of multiple projects,” he says. “Where I’m most effective is giving autonomy to manage day-to-day activity and making sure folks have the tools, resources, and time they need.”