Ridge Professional Group, Inc. (RPG) has been helping Polk County for almost two decades. Along the way, the company has been doing some building of its own—building a reputation as a top-tier Polk provider of civil engineering and urban planning services.
Lakeland-based RPG was launched by two partners in 1999 and located its first office in Auburndale. Early clients included the Ridgewood Lakes residential community near Davenport and Southeastern University (then Southeastern College) in Lakeland. Both clients remain with RPG today.
The RPG team is led by Kenneth R. Williams, President and Project Manager, and Daniel C. Lewis, Vice President and Director of Professional Services. Williams is a certified professional engineer and Class A general contractor. Lewis is a registered Class A general contractor and certified floodplain manager. Williams and Lewis say the company has earned an excellent business reputation and loyal client base through the team’s knowledge and experience (more than a 100 years of combined experience), staff continuity, consistent high-quality work, and friendly service.
Williams highlights RPG’s special focus on client service as a key element of the firm’s success. Being a small company has its advantages, he says.
“Here, our clients are dealing with us … someone who’s local, someone who knows the area, someone who knows how to make everything work,” Williams says.
RPG specializes in engineering, planning, land development design, and permitting services. Projects can be large or small or somewhere in between, and they can be residential, commercial, industrial, recreational, and institutional in nature.
“Our primary focus is helping a client look at 40 acres of open greenfield and showing him what he can do with it,” Lewis says, noting that RPG does the due diligence for any client with a construction project in mind. “We provide information about the possibilities and potential obstacles so they can decide if they want to stick their toes in and move forward,” he says.
Doing thorough due diligence can involve research in a number of areas, Lewis says, including land use and zoning, site entitlements, flood zones, drainage, endangered species, environmental concerns, existing structures, road access, transportation networks, utilities, and potential project costs.
If, after being given all of this information, a client wants to proceed with a project, “then we go into site design work and permitting,” Lewis says.
Mark J. Bennett, a certified planner and RPG’s Planning Director, says one of the key services the company provides for clients is “navigating the maze of bureaucracies.”
“It can be complicated,” Lewis adds. “We could be dealing with half a dozen regulatory agencies with their own requirements, and sometimes they conflict.”
Williams says RPG sometimes has out-of-state or foreign clients. “They don’t know the lay of the land, so we become their local eyes and ears, so to speak,” he says. “They need someone who can orchestrate all of these land-use and construction requirements with all of the right people. We provide consulting services from a local perspective. We know where to go to get these things done.”
RPG has been significantly involved with a number of large-scale projects. They include:
• Southeastern University (SEU)—The fast-growing, 86-acre university campus is constantly in construction mode and has been an RPG client for more than 15 years. Among other projects, RPG handled site design, permitting work, and preconstruction planning for SEU’s football stadium, its Student Activities Center, the Buena Vida live/learn facility, and the College of Arts and Media building.
• Ridgewood Lakes—Ridge Professional Group has provided continuous services for this 3,000-acre community since 1999. Ridgewood Lakes is located northwest of Davenport, five miles south of Interstate 4, and on the east side of U.S. Highway 27.
• Havertys—The 227,000-square-foot Florida distribution center for the Havertys furniture company is located in north Lakeland near the intersection of State Road 33 and Interstate 4. RPG designed and permitted the site and also completed the design work for a 194,585-square-foot expansion of the distribution center.
• Tenoroc Wildlife Management Area—RPG prepared a master plan for the 40-acre Youth Conservation Center at Tenoroc, located north of U.S. Highway 92, between Lakeland and Auburndale. The youth center was proposed to include a fishing platform, trails compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), picnic pavilions, a playground and tot lot, and discovery coves for birds, butterflies, bats, and aquatic life.
Ridge Professional Group also provided the land development and engineering design services for the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shop at the intersection of U.S. 92 and Main Street in Auburndale. The 2,475-square-foot shop, with drive-thru, was built in 2012 on a half-acre parcel of land. The project involved unique design and permitting elements to maximize the site’s functionality.
“We put a strong emphasis on all aspects of urban planning,” says Bennett, who has 25 years of experience in the field. “It’s one of our strengths and abilities.”
From his perspective as an engineer and project manager, Williams says urban planning “is one of the first things you have to look at” with any construction project.
With a broad range of expertise and a positive outlook on economic growth in Polk County, RPG anticipates having a consistently full plate of construction projects in the years ahead.
“Polk County is a good place for RPG to do business because of the many opportunities,” Bennett says. On top of that, he notes, is Polk County’s “cooperative, business-friendly environment, and, most importantly, the great people here.”
We are fortunate to have RPG as part of the Polk County team! More about Ridge Professional Group can be found on the company’s website at www.rpg-eng.com.