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Blog: Engineering Excellence at DuBois & King

Posted March 14, 2024 by Mark Rosalbo


DuBois engineering interview

A Candid Conversation with Melissa Stephen

We have a culture where we encourage people to pursue their passions."

Welcome to our latest blog post where I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Stephen, Vice President of Administration at DuBois & King. This multidisciplinary engineering firm, home to over 150 employees, has been serving New England and beyond for over six decades, and I’m very proud to say their home is right here in our town!  Melissa shared about numerous projects that have significantly improved the safety, mobility, and quality of life for Vermonters. We had a great conversation lasting over two hours.  

Overcoming Challenges

Melissa’s journey with DuBois & King began amidst the Great Recession of 2008. She witnessed first-hand how the firm's five partners made personal sacrifices to save DuBois & King (D&K) and plant the seeds for the successful company it is today. As Melissa recalls, “The senior partners took it over and made it work [...] Their determination and grit are why we are still a local, employee-owned company.”

Engineering Success

Throughout her tenure, Melissa has seen D&K win bids and successfully execute several standout projects. One such project was the design-build culvert replacement in Ryegate, VT, a complex endeavor that involved replacing a failing culvert under Route 5 and an active railroad line. Despite the complexities, the project was completed on time and within budget, even bagging several awards, including the Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Vermont. Melissa proudly states, “We had to coordinate with multiple stakeholders, including the town, the state, the railroad, and the contractors, and design a solution that met the structural and environmental requirements.”

Another project close to Melissa’s heart is the rain garden green stormwater project, a collaborative effort between DuBois & King, the town, the state, and the Randolph Conservation Commission. Melissa shares, “The rain garden is located at the end of Merchant’s Row, and it captures and treats stormwater runoff from the roadways, reducing pollution and enhancing the area’s aesthetics. The restaurants now have tables for outdoor eating, and the traffic moves much slower.” A creative solution that's a win for our town. 

Despite the firm’s success, Melissa acknowledges the challenges they face when hiring and retaining people in Randolph. From a shortage of engineers and surveyors in the region to the lack of affordable and quality housing, the challenges are manifold. However, DuBois & King has been proactive in addressing these issues by recruiting from several colleges and universities, offering internships and co-op opportunities, and providing competitive salaries and benefits.

Looking Ahead

We believe in professional development."

DuBois & King is committed to helping its employees grow and develop. They are working to implement a mentoring program for new hires and junior staff and a professional development plan (PDP) for all employees. Melissa elaborates, “The PDP is a tool that helps our employees identify their goals and objectives and plan their actions and activities to achieve them.” These initiatives foster a culture of continuous learning and collaboration.

Even with the positive work environment at D&K, Melissa mentions a lack of a statute of repose for design professionals as a frustration of doing business in Vermont. This is serious stuff. The gist is that engineers are liable for any damages or claims arising from their work for longer than their competitors from other states with a statute of repose in place. This exposes design professionals to high risk and liability, increasing business costs in Vermont. It also discourages innovation and creativity, as engineers might tend to be more conservative and cautious in their designs and solutions. Vermont is one of only a handful of states that do not have a statute of repose protecting these professionals.

We are the largest Vermont-based engineering company in the state, and are experts in things like slope rehab. We can help the Town of Randolph and hope to collaborate more in the future."

Melissa’s love for Randolph is evident. She appreciates the town’s accessibility, diversity, and the abundance of resources and amenities it offers. However, she also acknowledges the community's challenges, such as childcare availability, education quality, and the local hospital's sustainability. She reiterated how important it is for Gifford to remain in Randolph and be a successful hospital. Melissa expresses, “We need Gifford for our community, not just as an employer, and that's very important." She laughs as she continues, "For the record, they stole two of my employees because of their daycare." As you can see, Randolph businesses offer many enticements to their employees. 

The firm is embracing the future with open arms. They are moving more of their processes to the cloud to support remote work. Of course, I had to ask about AI. Melissa shared, “We are at the stage where we are dipping our big toes in. It’s funny you are asking. Next week, I will present a proposed AI policy draft because we need to establish a policy. As professional service providers, we must be extremely careful how we proceed. We won’t use AI for design; we are clear about that.”

Melissa believes in embracing the small-town vibe and working with local organizations to support small businesses. She feels that restaurants and budding nightlife options are desperately needed and should be supported. When pressed to share her favorite business, Melissa said it's Chef’s Market. She loves the owners, Scott and Tammy. Yet she couldn't resist also sharing her soft spot for Chandler Center for the Arts and our new ice cream shop Sweet Scoops.

Join the D&K Team

DuBois & King is currently hiring for several positions in Randolph and beyond, including all types of engineers, administrative roles, and marketing positions. The qualifications vary depending on the position, but they're generally looking for candidates with a degree in engineering or a related field, a professional license or certification, and relevant work experience. Check out the positions currently up for grabs. Also, see what's posted on their LinkedIn page

Our Gratitude

We are incredibly thankful for DuBois & King’s unwavering commitment to Randolph. Their contributions have played a significant role in shaping our town into the thriving community it is today. DuBois & King will undoubtedly continue to be a pillar of our community. Here’s to many more years of success and community building!

From the left: Jeff Grout, Randolph Zoning Administrator; Mel Tabor, Office Manager and receptionist; Krystal Vertichio, Human Resources Officer. The top picture includes, from the left: Melissa Stephen, and Justin Vertichio, Contoller

Making Randolph a better place to live, work, and play.