July 2019 Magazine

Arkansas Businesses Celebrating Anniversaries: Garver – 100 Years

by Tristan Bennett

Garver – 100 Years

This year many Arkansas businesses are celebrating big anniversaries alongside our state’s celebration of its territory bicentennial. Anniversaries are always an accomplishment, whether it’s one year, a centennial or more. 

Bought as part of the Louisiana Purchase, the land that became Arkansas was established as a territory on March 2, 1819, according to the “Encyclopedia of Arkansas.” To celebrate the bicentennial, Arkansans gathered at the State Capitol in March for a party complete with a birthday cake, historical displays and a speech from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Several of the state’s businesses are holding their own anniversary celebrations this year. It’s a milestone many do not get to enjoy. Twenty percent of businesses never see their first anniversary, and only about half will make it to their fifth year, according to the Small Business Administration. Arkansas is lucky to have such a diverse economy made up of local, homegrown businesses that Arkansans have continued to support for many years. 

Garver, a staple in Arkansas engineering, is turning 100 this year. Neal Garver started his one-man consulting firm in downtown Little Rock in 1919, and now the company is in the Top 150 of the Engineering News-Record’s prestigious Top 500 Design Firms list and has expanded to a national corporation. 

To uphold Garver’s excellent reputation, the company has made many changes over the years. Dan Williams, Garver’s CEO, says technology has revolutionized the way the civil engineering industry works, but the principles stay the same. 

“I wonder if our founder, Neal Garver, could fathom that we now use drones to inspect the bridges we design, GIS (geographic information system) for airport engineering or radio telemetry for real-time monitoring of the water reclamation systems we develop,” Williams says.

The development of new technology and advances allowed Garver to begin its expansion into other states in the mid-1990s. In order to adjust to the growth, Williams says the leadership team set goals to ensure that the original integrity would remain intact as the company continues to broaden.

Expansion in a changing society also came with its fair share of problems. 

“One of the greatest challenges for our company – and our industry as a whole – is a shortage of graduates in STEM (science technology engineering math)-related fields, such as engineering,” Williams says.

Garver’s employee-driven giving program, GarverGives, donates to schools to help expand and encourage STEM education.

Garver will continue its work in revitalizing STEM education as well as investing in its employees and communities. Ranking as the best firm to work for in the industry, according to Zweig Group, Garver values employees, making a better environment for them and clients as well.

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