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Sweethearts and Colleagues: The Couples of Freese and Nichols

February 14, 2020

Freese and Nichols shows its family-friendly nature in multiple ways.

From celebrating wedding and baby showers to being flexible when a child is sick, these are just a few ways that we work to be a firm of choice for employees and clients.

With family being such a big part of our company culture, Valentine's Day provides a chance to celebrate the families within Freese and Nichols. 

We talked with Freese and Nichols couples who shared what it's like working at the same company.
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Meet Kelsey and Will

Kelsey Calvez, Environmental Science, Austin
Hire date:
Aug. 15, 2016

Will Huff,  Stormwater, Austin
Hire date:
Jan. 14, 2013​

How did you meet? Will and I met soon after I moved from Houston to Austin and started at Freese and Nichols. I think we started to get to know one another at office happy hours and lunch gatherings, and we just really clicked. 

How long have you been together? We have been together for a little over three years. We have our wedding date set for March 21, 2020! 

Do you talk about work at home? We do catch ourselves talking about work quite often, but mainly because we both enjoy talking about our projects and the people we work with. It’s really nice to be able to talk to one another about work or ask for opinions on certain work-related things and for the other person to actually understand what you’re talking about.  I think this is one of my favorite things about us working together. And being in different fields keeps it interesting. 

What are some upsides/downsides to working at the same place as your significant other? There are definitely some pros to working together at the same company, but to be honest we both had a hard time thinking of a downside. For us it’s been great because we’re in different groups and we don’t often cross paths on projects. I would say the upsides are knowing the other person's schedule, having similar work friend groups, and understanding the other person's line of work. Obviously when we started dating there was always the risk that it wouldn’t work out and that would have been a huge downside, but luckily that wasn’t the case.

Any plans for Valentine’s Day? Going to Roughhouse Brewing.

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Meet The Buckinghams

Stephanie Buckingham, Organizational Development, Fort Worth
Hire date: May 2, 2011

Todd Buckingham, Transportation Design, Fort Worth
Hire date
: June 22, 2009

How did you meet?  We met freshmen year while at Texas Tech. We lived in the same dorm and met through mutual friends. While at Texas Tech, we played multiple intramural sports together and were in a fraternity (Alpha Tau Omega) and a sorority (Alpha Phi) who participated in many events together. We also have some FNI friends from Tech who are still some of our best friends today! Stephanie and Brittney Mahlum were sorority sisters and college roommates. Todd and Tim Sansone knew each other from high school, and their friendship continued through Engineering classes at Tech. Stephanie met Tim through his fraternity (Kappa Alpha) where several of Stephanie’s high school friends were members.

How long have you been together and married?  We were friends all through college, but we didn’t start dating until after we graduated in 2009. Todd came to work at FNI straight out of college, while Stephanie moved to Austin to work at a Study Abroad company. We got married in Austin in April 2011, and Stephanie started at FNI the day after our honeymoon in Costa Rica. 
 
Do you talk about work at home?  Sometimes we talk about work at home. We talk about the projects we are working on and the people that we work with. Freese and Nichols is an important part of our family – our young kids are familiar with our FNI friends. They can name who mom and dad get to see when we go to our Oklahoma, Austin or Houston offices. (We also do normal stuff like “what noise does a cow make” and ABCs…) We have many of sweet memories of FNI people and our kiddos. Our son, Reid, had a blast playing games with the interns when they came to our house last summer.

What are some upsides/downsides to working at the same place as your spouse?  It’s easy to talk about what’s going on because we already have the context on a lot of the topics and people. There have been times we’ve run presentations or ideas by each other and it’s led to improvements or better ideas. Also, you don’t have to explain acronyms! We love the Annual Dinner, and we always get separated since we both want to catch up with so many different people. Other upsides include carpooling or car swapping and lunch dates.

Any plans for Valentine’s Day?   Our son, Reid, has a dance party on Friday. They have been learning how to waltz at school for the past few weeks. He’s four, so it should be quite entertaining. After that, we’ll be heading to Austin to hang out with family this weekend. We’d like to make a trip to Roughhouse Brewing and/or go hiking with Brittney Mahlum while we’re there, too!

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Meet The Cartwrights

Kristen Cartwright, Water/Wastewater Master Planning, Raleigh 
Hire date:
 July, 29, 2013

Matt Cartwright, Construction Services, Raleigh
Hire date:
 August 13, 2012

How did you meet? Initially met as friends in the Pearland office in 2013, our cubes shared a wall. Matt would regularly accuse Kristen of smoking illegal substances in the office (she runs an essential oil diffuser and humidifier all day). We've been best friends ever since.

How long have you been together and married? Together over three years and married for in 2018.

Do you talk about work at home? Impossible not to! Since we are in separate and not closely related groups, we are able to be sounding boards for each other, get feedback on issues and celebrate successes. We are also at different levels in our careers and share different perspectives. 

What are some upsides/downsides to working at the same place as your spouse? 

Upside: Tracking your spouse down via their calendar, same friends through work, can be independent at company events, same holiday schedule, same set of people/events/processes (less to keep track of).

Downside: FNI's successes means you are both busy, can be tough to balance who goes home to let the dog out. Thankfully FNI is flexible and  supportive of families, so this is not much of an issue. Another downside, specially with the new glass walls in our conference rooms, is your spouse making faces/distracting you during a meeting if tthey happen to be walking by.

Any plans for Valentine's Day? Negotiating the diapers, spit ups and feedings of our 2-month-old, Bitsy. Hoping for a quiet evening! 

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Meet the Garrisons

Bregger Garrison, Transportation Design, San Antonio
Hire date: 
March 6, 2017

Kirstin Garrison, Central Texas Regional Administration, San Marcos
Hire date: 
June 11, 2019

How did you meet? Bregger and I met at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. I changed majors my junior year and transferred to the music school for a bachelor's degree in music education. Bregger was a freshman who was double majoring in music and engineering. Slowly, Bregger started to notice that we had the exact same schedule and would sit next to me in class, and I quickly realized how helpful Bregger was and asked him to tutor me in music theory and basic piano. The rest is history! We were both members of the University of Texas “Showband of the Southwest,”  which allowed us  to travel not only to the 2005 Rose Bowl National Championship where Texas WON, but to all the Texas games across the United States. In 2011, Bregger proposed to me in the Longhorn Band Hall at the Butler School of Music! Hook ‘Em!!  

When did you get married? June 15, 2013

Do you talk about work at home? Oh yes, we definitely do! Honestly, it is hard not, especially when our tasks cross paths and our immediate network of people is the same. As I am still fairly new to FNI,  I rely heavily on Bregger to help guide me through the various acronyms used (there are so so many!) and just general information. He has been beyond patient with me. With that being said, we do have a great work/life balance and have wonderful and insightful conversations with our ALMOST 3-year-old son Austen. Granted, not the same level of conversations, but it is refreshing to hear Austen talk about monster trucks and dinosaurs!

What are some upsides/downsides to working at the same place as your spouse? Definitely zero downside! Well…Bregger may have a different opinion as I joined FNI almost two years after he was hired on. It was definitely an interesting dynamic being on our first Skype meeting together, but all in all we balance each other out well. While we do not work in the same office or even the same group , it is nice to be able to have that independence and respected individual space, but then also know that we can rely on each other when we may need something.

Any plans for Valentine’s Day? No major plans! We will probably have a family pizza and movie night! We love making homemade pizza together and Austen is a HUGE help in the kitchen. I’m sure we will build some kind of pillow fort and settle in for the evening watching either “Cars 2” or “The Secret Life of Pets.”   

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Meet The Johnsons

Amanda Johnson, Transmission and Utilities – West, Fort Worth
Hire date:
Jan. 18, 2016

Stephen Johnson, W/WW Master Planning, Fort Worth.
Hire date
: May 27, 2014

How did you meet? Met at Texas A&M. One semester we had every class the same. We became study buddies in 2012 and married in 2014 at the A&M Gardens in Azle, Texas.

Do you talk about work at home? When we get home, we try to decompress. We use the car ride on the way home to talk about work life. And when we get home, home is just for home life.

What are some upsides/downsides to working at the same place as your significant other?

Amanda: I like it. I love carpooling and occasional lunches together. I like being able to go home and talk about a project, and he knows who/what I’m talking about. Although, it’s hard to go buy a birthday present because we carpool.

Stephen: We’ve recently started working together on projects, so it makes it easier to get stuff done.

Amanda: The first time we worked together, it made me nervous because I was afraid people were thinking we were talking about life stuff. I made it a point to look at work on the computer screen. Since he’s planning and I’m design, it’s cool to get to work on the results of his work.

Any plans for Valentine’s Day? Going to see Cirque du soleil.