The history of Baltimore-based Rummel Klepper & Kahl reads a lot like the history of highway construction in the Mid-Atlantic.
There’s a reason for that. Established in 1923 as a two-man engineering partnership in a small office on Saratoga Street in Baltimore, the firm evolved into a multidisciplinary planning, engineering, environmental and construction services firm that has had a hand in constructing some of the region’s most traveled roadways and most recognized landmarks.
RK&K entered the “highway era” along with the nation in 1949, taking on the Annapolis-Washington Expressway (U.S. 50), one of the state’s first four-lane expressways, which opened in 1953. In 1957, it participated in preliminary studies for the building of Interstate 695 — the Baltimore Beltway — and in 1964, it opened its first branch office in Raleigh, N.C., to undertake design work on I-95.
In 1968, RK&K became involved in the revitalization of the Inner Harbor; and in 1970, it completed major planning studies for I-495, the Capital Beltway around Washington, D.C.; I-795, the Northwest Expressway; and the Washington and Baltimore subway systems. In 1997, it was selected to co-manage construction of the $2.5 billion Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement on the Capital Beltway.
More recently, the firm has worked on projects including M&T Bank Stadium, the Maryland Science Center expansion, the Intercounty Connector and the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education campus at Monticello in Charlottesville, Va.
It also does work on less visible but no less important major infrastructure projects, such as gas pipelines, mass transit lines and water and sewer projects, including the Patapsco wastewater treatment plant.
In Engineering News Record’s 2014 listing of the Top 500 Design Firms, RK&K ranked 87th.
The company, which employs close to 1,000 people in 17 branch offices up and down the Eastern Seaboard, prides itself on having responsive people and creative solutions.
With 410 employees working in two Baltimore-area locations, RK&K has made The Baltimore Sun’s Top Workplaces list for two years, jumping this year from the midsize to large employers list.
Nataliya Schroeder, a project engineer in the firm’s traffic department, said that’s partly due to the company’s small-business atmosphere.
“Even though we’re growing larger and larger every year, there’s still that personal feel,” said Schroeder, 33, who has worked at RK&K for five years.
She said her superiors welcome ideas from lower-level staff, encouraging creativity and outside-the-box thinking.
“I like the open-door policy. All the bosses are accessible, and they’re open to ideas,” she said. “You can always go and approach them without worrying they’ll be like, ‘Are you crazy?’”
The perks of working at RK&K go beyond a dynamic benefits package. Leadership encourages continued professional growth with tuition reimbursement and professional development credits. Breakfast is provided every Friday and there are regular company social events, including picnics, ice cream socials, holiday parties, and anniversary recognition events and gifts.
“This is a great place to grow as an engineer and learn about design from some really sharp minds,” one employee said in response to a survey. “I am proud to be a part of the RK&K family.”
RK&K doesn’t stop with serving its clients and valuing its employees. The company has a long track record of civic involvement as well. Working to improve local communities, RK&K staff members are involved in a host of charitable organizations ranging from food banks to ministries to youth organizations. The company itself contributes annually to the WBAL Kids Campaign and Maryland Food Bank.
“This is a terrific company that really values each and every individual who works here,” said another employee. “They prove that we are valued and appreciated by never letting good work go unnoticed.”
Emily Bregel contributed to this article.