Chastain-Skillman Uses Technology to Add to Its Engineering Services
Phosphate reigned in 1950 when Roy Chastain and Joe Skillman took over the leadership of a young engineering firm, creating Chastain-Skillman Inc. The new company served that industry but also realized it needed to provide surveying, land development and public works engineering to become a major supporter of the growth and development of Polk County’s infrastructure.
Since those early days of the engineering firm, Chastain-Skillman has grown to 68 full- and part-time employees with headquarters in Lakeland and satellite offices in Orlando and Nashville, Tennessee. It works throughout the Southeast, but primarily in Central Florida and Middle Tennessee. Polk County makes up a large portion of its work in Central Florida, said Marketing Coordinator Pam Rodriguez.
Current President & CEO Jay Chastain assumed his role in 2015, following Jim Chastain, Roy’s son. Jim Chastain “sought to elevate the academic and innovative capabilities of the firm, especially with regard to water resources and environmental engineering. He recognized that, as our communities grew, there would be an obligation to protect the public health and the environment in more rigorous ways. Therefore, he expanded the firm’s general engineering services to include environmental risk management, occupational health and safety, and environmental science expertise,” she said.
Now, Jay, the third-generation company leader, is building on Chastain-Skillman’s history “by integrating new technologies into the firm’s services and promoting our ability to compete with national engineering firms,” Rodriguez said.
He lives and works by the motto “Your success is our success.”
The successes have been many, including these, which Rodriguez said are among many the firm is most proud of:
- Oakbridge & Grasslands Residential & Commercial Drive. This 1,400-acre former phosphate mine had been abandoned when then-president Jim Chastain researched potential uses. The result? A $5 million land reclamation grant, which became the catalyst for the development of Oakbridge, Grasslands and Lakeside Village – one of Chastain-Skillman’s biggest projects and one of Lakeland’s largest developments.
- Bartow Wastewater Reclamation Facility, which was one of the state’s first 100% beneficial reuse wastewater disposal projects. “The advanced wastewater treatment facility provides cooling water for Florida Power Corp.’s 470-megawatt power plant, saving about 4 million gallons per day withdrawal of groundwater,” Rodriguez said.
- PK Avenue in Auburndale. Chastain-Skillman provided everything from planning to surveying to develop a concept improvement plan for 3,500 feet of PK Avenue. “As the gateway to downtown Auburndale, the city wanted the improvements to not only resolve chronic roadway flooding and improve the quality of stormwater runoff for the highly urbanized 261-acre drainage basin, but to also improve the overall neighborhood aesthetics and provide a pedestrian trail for recreation.”
The firm is now working on the Polk Regional Water Cooperative’s Southeast Wellfield and Water Supply Facility project, part of a $500 million program involving 14 municipalities and the county to develop the Lower Floridan Aquifer into an “alternative” water supply. Its team will provide designs to get the treated water to its destination.
Rodriguez puts it simply – the engineering company has thrived thanks to its “legacy, our relationships with the communities we serve and our commitment to family values.”
Each year it reflects on projects “and the impact those projects have had on the development and growth of our communities over these past seven decades,” she said. “This brings forth a profound feeling of pride for our team. Each project is handled with care, precision and an understanding of its impact on the future. We care deeply for our communities because our team plays an integral part in each of them.”
The company also upholds the values that Roy Chastain and Skillman founded it on. “Each year, we survey our team members to provide them an opportunity to share their thoughts on our company’s culture, management style, workload expectations and more. Much of the positive feedback we receive focuses on the ample career advancement opportunities that are provided through one-on-one mentorship, ongoing training and continuing education; our executive team’s emphasis on the importance of work-life balance; and the overall understanding that respect is paramount to a happy and healthy work environment.”
The company believes in giving back to the communities it serves in unique ways. This year, Rodriguez said, it has started focusing on participating in educational events for young adults and children. It’s done two events so far in 2023:
- Bonnet Springs Park’s Spring Break STEAM Week, “where members of our survey and marketing team taught park visitors ages 6-15 about the world of land surveying. Activities included looking at maps from projects completed around Central Florida, exploring the equipment used to collect data to create the maps, and showing guests how to create their very own Bonnet Springs Park ‘map’,” she said.
- Girl Scouts of West Central Florida’s STEMapalooza, hosted at Florida Polytechnic University. “Over 1,200 Girl Scouts, friends and family attended the event, and attendees got to learn about land surveying with our Assistant Director of Survey and sit in on the Women in STEM panel featuring one of our civil engineers, Jennifer Schroyer.”