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Sweethearts and Colleagues: The Couples of Freese and Nichols

February 14, 2019

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 two years. We have our wedding date set for March 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? Instead of going out, we usually end up deciding to ditch the crowds and cook a gourmet Valentine’s Day dinner together. We both really enjoy cooking and doing it ourselves allows us to save money even when buying fancier dinner options, like bacon wrapped scallops and lobster! 

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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?  No plans yet! We’ll probably do a fun dinner with our kids, Reid and Audrey. We’re not really fancy dinner people, so most of our nights out involve doing something active. We’ve gotten into Rock Climbing this past year, so we may have to do that!

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Meet The Griffins

Amanda Griffin, Business Development, San Marcos 
Hire date: April 24, 2008

Tanner Griffin, Construction Services, Austin. 
Hire date
: June 23, 2008

How did you meet? From Amanda: In college at Southwest Texas State (yes dating ourselves by saying Southwest). We were both business majors and had several classes together. Just couldn’t keep away from his charm.

How long married? We will celebrate 14 years this June.

Do you talk about work at home? We consciously try to keep the two separate and think we would regardless if we worked elsewhere. However, there are times when there’s a fun story or success to share, and it’s pretty cool that he knows the people involved. 

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

Upside: Same holiday schedules, same benefits and same company culture – it’s so nice to work for a company whose culture is very in line with your own personal culture and values.  Relationships – coworkers and bosses personally know our spouse since they work or have worked with us. I got to work with Tanner’s CS group while I was in the Austin office and Richard specifically. I like to think it gave Richard and the rest of the team an even better insight knowing Tanner and the person he is having also known his “other half.” Good Examples – our two girls get to witness their parents both work for an amazing company. What better way to show children qualities of a good company and the balance working for a good company like FNI can provide.

Any plans for Valentine’s Day? I will say YES…..or at least the Saturday before since it’s on a “school night.”

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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. 

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Meet The Cartwrights

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

Matt Cartwright, Construction Services, Houston. 
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 two years and married for almost 7 months.

What's it like working at the same company as your spouse? It can be convenient. We are in completely different groups and offices, so we actually aren't around each other very often at work. This will change after we move to the Raleigh office in Spring 2019. However, much to Kristen's disappointment, Matt won't be able to chauffer Kristen to work, due to the nature of his work in Construction Services. 

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? Bypassing the big day this year, will hit up a nice restaurant on a less crowded evening for dinner.