The Keeping it Real series is your chance to hear from Allen & Shariff staff on life, lessons, and leadership, straight from the trenches. Sometimes literally.
Name and Title: Donald R. (Don) Hocking, PE, LEED AP BD+C – Senior Mechanical Engineer
Office location: Salisbury, MD
Years at Allen & Shariff: 14.5 years
As Senior Mechanical Engineer, where do you invest your energies in relation to your team and clients?
Trying to understand where each are coming from and determining what avenue best allows us to work together.
What’s the one skill that you would say is essential to being a great engineer?
Communication, that allows clearing up understandings and expectations.
What is the most innovative advancement you’ve seen since you first started your career? How has it affected the industry?
CAD in general. When work was done with ink on mylar, changes didn’t happen that often. Potential revisions were reviewed by all stakeholders to gauge the impact. With CAD, changes are not viewed as monumental, and deliverable timelines are expected to be reduced. Statements like “It’s just a wall move” or “We only moved the mechanical room to other side of the space” are not uncommon.
Describe something from your past (school, work experience, a mentor) that most influenced you to become a mechanical engineer?
I was at a meeting and presented my business card to the client, who looked at it, put it down, and said, “Oh, you’re not a PE.” Then, he pretty much dismissed what I had to say. I had come up through the ranks early on, with some Engineers who were alcoholics or ended up in broken families, and I didn’t want that. Just prior to me getting my license, my mentor made the statement that he had seen the same thing and that he was going to break that mold. It made sense to me, when put that way.
Favorite sports team?
Buffalo Bills (upstate New York born and bred). They know how to get to the Super Bowl but choke when they get there.
Allen & Shariff just celebrated its 25th anniversary. What do you think has given this organization its staying power?
Zack and Bill have set good examples as role models committed to the organization of clients and employees. This transfers to each member of the team, which is recognized by our clients.
What’s the coolest Allen & Shariff project you’ve been part of?
The Wharf in Southwest DC. Our office designed Parcels 4 and 5. It was energizing to see each of the multiple teams working in unison from various design build groups and pulling it all together. In addition, Parcel 5 started a year after the others began, and received its LEED Gold certification first.
What’s the single most important ingredient when it comes to a successful client relationship?
Being available and responsive.
Do you have a personal hero? Someone that really inspires you in your professional or personal life?
Pastor Jack Cogar. He truly was a “Jack of all trades,” with military involvement, work experience in HVAC, and he had been an electrical journeyman. He was very knowledgeable and humble, and a true inspirational role model.
How would you describe the company culture at Allen & Shariff?
Very caring and family oriented.
What are you currently binge watching or what’s next in the queue?
Generally, I’m not much into watching TV, but I do like NCIS, 911, and Big Bang. I spend the majority of spare time doing Sudoku on my tablet, word fill-in puzzles, computer games, and working on my HO model train layout that I had a separate 18’ x 9’ room built in my garage to support, which has its own thru-wall heat pump.