Faces of Freese and Nichols: Brandon Huxford, PE
This is the next part in a series spotlighting the people who make Freese and Nichols what it is today.
Oklahoma City Engineer Brandon Huxford, PE, has always been fascinated with cars and motors.
In fact, a favorite pastime of his is going with his family to car lots on Sundays when dealerships are closed and taking a look at the newest models and their latest technology.
“As a kid, growing up and understanding what makes vehicles go has always fascinated me – I’m a fixer by nature and an engineer,” he said. “The fact we can take something from the ground and turn it into fuel that goes inside a bunch of metal pieces, which propels something forward, fascinates me.”
The fascination with motorized vehicles was further extended through racing motocross as a kid, until a nasty spill caused him to break his neck in two places, ending that venture in his life. Although down but not out, he carried that “how does the world work” fascination to college, earning his bachelor’s in physics. Knowing he wanted to have an impact you could see, he blended that love of vehicles and the way things work in grad school to become a civil engineer. To this day, he carries that same fascination to work every day as a transportation engineer, planning traffic flow and the roadways underneath those beloved cars. He maintains that love for motorized objects to this day, as he drives to work every day in a GMC Denali pickup truck but also has a Ducati motorcycle that he rides for fun. Next to his vehicles, Brandon and his wife, Jaclyn, have a garage gym with weights. They enjoy working out, being outside, jogging through Mitch and Hayford Parks in Edmond and taking their daughters to Beavers Bend State Park and Lake Murray State Park.
He’s active as the American Public Works Association of Oklahoma secretary and awards chair.
When Freese and Nichols opened an Oklahoma City office five years ago, Brandon wanted to push himself out of his comfort zone. When the opportunity arose, he transferred from the Dallas office to Oklahoma City and has loved every second of it.
“The best way we describe where we live to people is – the location, the people and the scenery – are much closer to what my wife and I grew up with, as we are both from towns of population around 1,800 people,” he said. “To us, the feel in North Edmond is more cordial and friendly, such as meeting people at the grocery story. It feels like home.”
What kind of projects do you typically work on?
Transportation and stormwater. I like a blend of all things transportation: traffic engineering, transportation planning and roadway design. I like combining concepts in traffic engineering and applying them to roadway projects and vice versa. It’s important because a lot of times when people think of transportation, they think of roadway design but that is only one of the three legs. To be the best roadway design professional, you need to understand traffic design and transportation engineering concepts and their interactions/relations with each other, to develop and truly understand the most functional concepts for each project.
How does Freese and Nichols compare to other firms in Oklahoma?
From our approach in how we do business, we’re very different in our client service. We generally put relationships before profit and maintain that relationship as though it wasn’t business related. I was raised in a small town that was very much of the mindset that your word means everything. That’s exactly how Freese and Nichols operates. If you tell someone you’re going to do something, you do it.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
To me it’s solving problems. I’m always trying to fix everything. When clients say they have a roadway problem or issue, it’s me being able to look at a 10,000-foot decision and scale down to a 100-foot view, that’s fun for me. To be able to takes those ideas and present them to a client and see the light turn on, the excitement of the possibility, to me that’s the most rewarding part.
How do you handle adversity?
Head on. Board Chairman Bob Pence has said for years that bad news does not get better with time. For me, as uncomfortable as it can be, if a problem comes up it should be immediately addressed. It will never get better the longer it sits, don’t let it linger.
What’s your favorite part about working at Freese and Nichols?
To me, the company and its values are everything. It gives me the confidence to know that whatever decisions I make, I have their full support. Making the decision to move to a different state, I knew they had the confidence in me. I’ll make them successful and they’ll make me successful, not just at work but in life. There are not many companies this size and caliber that can say they see the CEO once a year, much less several times a year. It shows a connectivity of our higher ups and the culture throughout each echelon of the company.
What’s your advice for young professionals trying to get into the industry?
Be resilient and be as diverse as possible but not so diverse that you lose specialty. When I started at Freese and Nichols, the economy had just a hit a downhill slide in 2008-09. I knew that was going to be a daily, significant thing in our environment. With the downturn in the economy, roadway projects started thinning out, I then started heavily doing traffic engineering and transportation planning work companywide. It made me a lot less expendable than I would have been otherwise.