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Smith-Goth emphasizes its engineering services

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by Jan K. Allen

SBJ Contributing Writer

David Smith and Norman Goth have worked together as a team since 1993, forming the corporation of Smith-Goth Engineers in 1996. The firm's offices are located in the Woodhurst Complex.

Smith, who hails from Paducah, Ky., received his mechanical engineering degree from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1966. He worked as a plant engineer for Bendix Corporation in Kansas City in the late 1960s and early '70s, and in the same capacity at Litton Industries in Springfield until he started his own consulting firm in 1978.

The technical duties, which included installation, modification and repair of mechanical and electrical systems for these companies, gave Smith the background knowledge, and the confidence, to venture out on his own.

Goth earned his degree at the University of Kansas-Lawrence, where he studied both architecture and engineering before deciding to specialize in mechanical engineering.

"I've always been strong in math and problem solving," Goth said.

Goth came to Springfield in 1977, and from the beginning of his career has worked as a consultant. He received his experience in the business with Hood-Rich Inc. and Warren & Goodin Engineers-Architects Inc. before going into business with Smith.

Smith-Goth has recently added another engineer to the staff, bringing the total number of employees to eight, including the principals. The staff includes four professional engineers, one engineer-in-training, an office manager, and two autoCAD technicians. It takes at least four years' experience and state certification to earn the designation professional engineer, or PE.

Each state has its own requirements for certification. The company has extended its professional registration to all the surrounding states, plus Texas. Although the firm primarily works within a 150-mile radius of Springfield, many of its regular clients build structures outside that general area, requiring some travel.

It's important to have on-site knowledge of the project, Goth said.

Smith estimated that 80 percent of the company's business comes from the local area, and a large portion of the projects it does are for repeat customers or those gained through referrals. The firm does very little advertising, he added.

The company has done work on several of the buildings located in the Springfield Partnership Industrial Park on East Kearney; O'Reilly stores and warehouses; Bass Pro Shops' new structures and additions; and many schools, banks and other commercial structures.

"We are rarely involved in any residential work," Smith said.

Smith said he envisions the strong market in the construction industry will continue in the near future. Where once you could count on a slowdown in January and February, the work these days stays steady the-year-round, he said.

Both Smith and Goth said the method of operation in their office is a great asset. Where some larger firms assign specific projects to individuals, both principals at Smith-Goth have a working knowledge of every project.

Working as a team provides a system of checks and balances, which cuts down on errors and allows the customer the advantage of having more than one person to respond to inquiries about a project.

"We don't sell blueprints. We sell engineering services," Smith said.

The associates agree the autoCAD system has greatly enhanced the engineering field. Plans can be drawn and modified much more quickly and accurately than in the past.

If there is a downside to the use of automation, it is that it's hard to tell a good plan from a bad one, according to Goth. "It sometimes makes it harder to find mistakes," he said.

Even though engineers tend to specialize today, it is still incumbent upon them to know all stages of construction, he added.

Location, style, available utilities building codes and building materials all affect the type and amount of pipes and wiring needed.

"We have to know what the wall construction and thickness is to determine how much heating and cooling is needed," Goth said.

The computer programs available to produce such computations are very helpful. The programs factor in the insulating values of various components and provide accurate estimates. However, this useful aid does not excuse the engineer from knowing the formula to reach the conclusions manually.

Among the firm's recent projects, Smith-Goth worked on the plans for the new Sinclair Financial Building, and the team is consultant to Lohmeyer-Russell on the new school facility planned for the community of Dora. The rural school, which burned within the past year, has begun construction, and classes are being held in temporary structures until the project is complete.

PHOTO CAPTION:

Norman Goth and David Smith at their offices.[[In-content Ad]]

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