The History of Kaw Valley Engineering
We are humbled to celebrate our 40-year anniversary this year. Throughout the past 40 years, the firm has opened new offices, increased employee size and more. We talked to firm President Leon Osbourn, PE, PS, about the history of Kaw Valley Engineering.
Co-founders Leon Osbourn, John Sheets and Greg Christiansen founded Kaw Valley Engineering in 1982 in Junction City, Kansas after the firm they were working for was about to go out of business.
“We sat down over a beer and decided it’s time we try and do something,” he said. “So we just got our heads together forty years ago and started the firm.”
They started out offering surveying and engineering services. A short time later, the new firm started offering materials testing services. Leon and Greg owned a two-bedroom house at the time and decided to open shop and start the business there. They set up a materials testing lab in the back of the house as well as areas for drafters and office work inside the house.
“We had the kitchen and we had a living room and a couple bedrooms, and we set some draftsmen up in the back room in one of the bedrooms,” he said. “We just spread out in there and had our little cubicles. It was a pretty good-sized little living room and we just made it work.”
In the beginning of the firm’s inception, Leon reached out to others in Junction City.
“Luckily I knew a lot of people in town, some of the local businessmen,” he said. “The Chamber of Commerce helped, the Economic Development Commission helped, and there was no surveying or engineering in this town, so I reached out to them.”
The firm moved out of the two-bedroom house and into 859 South Washington in Junction City in 1985. In 1990, the firm relocated to our headquarters’ current location at 2319 North Jackson. Leon is also the Junction City Office Director.
Shortly after the firm started growing in Junction City, Kaw Valley Engineering opened the Kansas City branch in 1984 in Parkville, Missouri. The branch outgrew that office in 1990 and moved to Riverside. The office was then relocated to Barry Road in Kansas City, Missouri in 2000 and in 2012, relocated again to its current location on North Oak Trafficway. Marty Arling, PE, is the Kansas City Office Director.
Our Lenexa, Kansas branch opened in 1994 on 95th Street. This was also around the time the firm began offering geotechnical engineering services. In 2001, the Lenexa office moved to its current location at 14700 West 114th Terrace. Gary Leeds, PE is the Lenexa Office Director.
In 2008, Kaw Valley Engineering opened its Salina, Kansas office on Armory Road. After outgrowing this location, the Salina branch moved to its current location at 742 Duvall Avenue. Justin Owens, PE, is the Office Director of our Salina branch.
Our Emporia, Kansas branch opened in 2012 at East 12th Avenue. In 2017, the office relocated to West 6th Avenue. Then in 2019, we moved to our current location in downtown Emporia at 20 East Fifth Avenue.
Our Wichita, Kansas branch opened in 2014 in downtown Wichita at 200 N. Emporia. In 2016, we purchased an adjacent building to open a full-service materials testing laboratory at our Wichita branch. Shawn Bryan, PE, CFM, is the Wichita Office Director.
Over many years of changes and expansions, success is visible at Kaw Valley Engineering after growing to six offices and over 170 employees. We are thankful for the employees, clients and communities that have helped us succeed for 40 years. We look forward to the next 40 years of Kaw Valley Engineering.
“Every year, you’ve just got to change and look ahead and hope for the best,” Leon said. “It’s been a long haul.”
Since 1982, Kaw Valley Engineering has been the team of experts needed to help take a project from inception to completion, providing a full range of civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, surveying, construction observation and materials testing services throughout the Midwest. Kaw Valley Engineering has offices in Junction City, Lenexa, Salina, Emporia, and Wichita, Kansas; and Kansas City, Missouri.