Mining for Gold...
Celebrating 50 Years!
As we embark on our 50th Anniversary year, we have a new project to add to the nearly 100,000 we’ve completed since 1971.
No engineering prowess needed.
This project will focus on YOU -- our employees. You are the most important piece of CTL | Thompson’s success, and that has been true since my father, Bob, founded the company. Your predecessors and current co-workers have and continue to trailblaze our path to success.
In a monthly series, we will highlight stories from CTL’s rich past, along with commentary and predictions for our present day and future success. We’re calling the series “Mining for Gold,” because we have so many precious and rich stories that highlight our industry-leading expertise and entrepreneurial culture and reiterate how we live out our values of thoughtful, time-tested and thorough engineering.
Bill Hoffmann and the history of CTL|Thompson’s Colorado Springs branch are inextricably linked.
The bond began in the early 1980s when Bill was called into Bob Thompson’s office. His title going into the meeting was Field Operations Manager. A few short minutes later? He was Colorado Springs Branch Manager.
Bill wasn’t vying for the job. He didn’t even know the job existed. But Bob saw the growth potential of the then-sleepy military town and the need for CTL’s technical engineering prowess.
“It wasn’t a discussion,” Bill recalled in a recent phone interview. “Bob said: ‘We are going to open an office in Colorado Springs, and Bill, you’re going to run it.’”
At that time, Bill had eight years under his belt at CTL. He’d started as a draftsman before going out in the field, doing technician work during the day and drafting at night. He ultimately worked into his role managing field operations for the Denver office, which represented the majority of the firm’s then-50 Denver-based employees.
Once he got over his initial shock at the boss’s pronouncement, Bill grew to love — and over time, make his mark on — southern Colorado.
Speaking of making a mark: We opened the office in 1984 with just four employees — Bill, two technicians and a secretary. By 2005, the office had more than 60 employees and had expanded its engineering and testing capabilities to a total of 15,000 square feet of office and lab space. Today, Colorado Springs employees total 30, and we’ve also added a Pueblo office to service the growing Arkansas River Valley. (More on that in a later edition.)
Staff growth matched the growth in projects. Though we began with geotechnical engineering consulting for the growing residential market, today the team manages major commercial, institutional, industrial and residential projects. Bill estimates that CTL engineers advised on 75% of the land development in Colorado Springs between about 1992 and today.
That estimate may sound high, but consider the project list over the last 36 years.
Bill has been the principal reviewer and project manager on varied facilities, including the recently completed 38,000-square-foot Pikes Peak Summit Complex , the highest publicly accessible construction project in the United States today. The team managed geotechnical work at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center and was
integral in designing a new peloton at the Center.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus, which has grown 10 times in the past 30 years, have been longtime clients, too. Bill estimates CTL has managed about 95% of the site work for UCCS’ expansion and redevelopment.
Through a strong relationship initially with GE Johnson and, ultimately, Phil Anschutz, CTL has managed several iterations and expansions at The Broadmoor resort hotel , including nontraditional projects such as the Wilderness Experience on the top of Cheyenne Mountain and the zip line park near Seven Falls.
Bill was also an integral advisor on the rehabilitation of the 2.8-mile-long levee along the Arkansas River in Pueblo, a $10M project that also included managing public involvement as a mural on the surface was on the historic registry. Ultimately, the team refaced, lowered and widened the levee to serve its intended purpose while also creating a community amenity at the surface level.
The Colorado Springs team has also consulted on runways at the Colorado Springs Airport, conducted geotechnical investigations at the Broadmoor World Arena, and done soils engineering for the Meridian Ranch, Northgate, Stetson Hills, Briargate, Cordera, The Farm and numerous other residential developments.
When pressed about his favorite or most fulfilling project or client, Bill instantly cited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the one client I had the most fun with, and it was the most fulfilling,” he said.
From transforming the great ape exhibit at this national landmark and conservation facility to working on the design of the giraffe catwalks that bring you face-to-face with the tall, slender beasts, the zoo has been entirely rebuilt during his tenure.
Why has the Colorado Springs office been so successful? In addition to unmatched expertise in slope stability and slope failure analysis/remediation and a deep understanding of the region’s complicated geotechnical, geologic and topographic conditions, Bill credits relationship-building, networking and community participation. As he explained, “We’re all trying to figure out how to make something work, so why not work together?”
Through its work on the 15,000-acre Briargate retail and residential community project in northern Colorado Springs, CTL became known for successfully overcoming complicated geotechnical, geologic and topographic conditions in the region. The project also cemented Bill’s reputation as a problem solver in the geotechnical engineering field.
But Bill is quick to acknowledge that talented people surrounded him. “This office would not have been as successful if not for some of the great people who’ve worked with me,” he said. That included people like engineer Dick Philips; Marty Essigmann who came over with the acquisition of Geotechnical Consultants Inc. (GCI) in the early 1990s; Bob
Branson; and Tim Mitchell.
The firm also earned respect in the business community when, in 1988, an economic downturn hit. CTL retained its staff and helped its clients and prospects weather the storm at a time when many competitors either closed up shop or pivoted to environmental work. “Hanging on” with them, said Bill, engendered fierce, long-term loyalty.
That loyalty and what insiders call “an entrepreneurial spirit running through our veins” stemmed from the earliest days in Colorado and came directly from the top.
“Bob really stretched the firm out in the beginning,” Bill said. “We took jobs on and then we figured it out. Every time we saw an opportunity, we took it, and I continued with that philosophy.”
After 45 years with the company, Bill is now semi-retired, but he continues to provide input for the Colorado Springs office. He also stays involved on the local level, working on a broad range of issues in the community. “Knowing how to solve a problem can extend beyond geotechnical engineering,” he said.