How well do you know Speight Marshall Francis' Senior Structural Engineer and Director Construction Administration and Business Development, Danny Rudd, PE? Take a quick journey to get to know him, professionally and personally, in our three-part Employee Spotlight.
Part 1: Background Life: 

As a young boy, Danny enjoyed designing and drawing automobiles, boats and buildings; his imagination seemed to flow effortlessly when applying unique touches to his creations. This innate interest, along with influence from the men in his life, prompted his ultimate career in engineering. Danny’s father, uncles and both grandfathers all took pride in building their own homes that are each still standing today in Midlothian, Virginia. The family’s lake house on Lake Gaston was also built by Danny’s father and uncle. Fifteen years ago, Danny followed suit and took on the project of designing and building his own home in Powhatan, VA. It seems building is in his blood! 

Danny began his career in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry when he was a teenager. At fourteen years old, he began accompanying his Uncle Earl to help with job site clean-up. While attending high school, Danny started a position working in the warehouse at Midlothian Tile Company where he maintained inventory, loaded and unloaded trucks with a fork lift, and delivered and retrieved materials. He even spent weekends assisting tile contractors, painters and insulators at Philip Morris’s manufacturing and operations center.  

After graduating high school, Danny continued to work at Philip Morris on weekends and performed a variety of jobs throughout the week including tile installation in the houses Uncle Earl built and supply delivery for Richmond Copier & Fax. On what seemed to be just another ordinary day on the job, Danny had a pivotal conversation with a painter that became a turning point in his professional career. The painter recounted his disheartening story of how his own dream of becoming an engineer was stripped away in the 1970’s when he was drafted for the Vietnam War. He recognized Danny’s talent and encouraged him to get an engineering degree. As an act of faith, the painter gifted Danny his compass and divider set, items he still treasures today. 

Following his passion, Danny enrolled at John Tyler Community College in 1991. He earned an Associate’s Degree in Architectural Engineering and later attended Old Dominion University to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree. When interning for a summer with an architect based in downtown Richmond performing AutoCAD duties, Danny realized he was more interested in engineering than architecture. It finally became clear engineering was the path he was meant to take.  
With luck and a recommendation from his John Tyler Community College professor, Danny was able to land a job as a technical representative for Trus Joist MacMillian at Weyerhaeuser. It was during his employment at Weyerhaeuser that Danny found he wanted to specifically focus on structural engineering. Sadly, due to his full-time schedule at school and limited availability to work, he was laid off after a year. Never down for too long, Danny found another job opportunity: Tindall Concrete of Virginia was in the market for a junior draftsman and Danny was just the man for the job. Along with his job duties of producing shop drawings, he was able to build long-standing relationships with engineers, project managers and field personnel. Danny’s position at Tindall Concrete came to an end when he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering Technology (Civil/Structural Design Emphasis) from Old Dominion University in 1997.  

After graduation, Danny worked for two years as a Staff Engineer at Steven M. Applegate Consulting Engineers and later at Lanna Dunlap and Spriggs where he gained much hands-on structural engineering experience. Danny remained with Lanna Dunlap and Spriggs beyond their merger with Draper Aden Associates until 2009 when he began his journey with Speight Marshall Francis. 
Life at SMF:

In 2009, Danny joined the Structural Engineering team at Speight Marshall Francis and went on to become a Virginia licensed Professional Engineer. One of the first significant projects that holds a special place in Danny’s memory is at Louisa County High School. This was his first opportunity to work closely with Danny Speight, President of Speight Marshall Francis. One Saturday, they traveled together to Louisa County to perform an initial field investigation of the entire exterior of the school. Throughout their inspection, Speight challenged him with thought-provoking questions about the construction of the building, the possible causes for the deficiencies and feasible structural repair solutions. This interactive method of on-the-job teaching expanded his understanding of structural problem solving more than ever before. The direct mentorship and instruction he received from the well-oiled structural engineer throughout this project gave him a guideline he still uses today when he performs inspections, writes reports and trains EITs.  

After further review of the dilapidating conditions and existing drawings of Louisa County’s only high school, officials were forced to condemn the gym to ensure occupants’ safety. Although the gym was officially deemed unsound and closed, the remainder of the high school remained open to maintain its daily functions. This difficult but necessary decision received public opposition but Danny Speight and Danny firmly supported their critical findings at multiple school board meetings. Danny recalls admiring Speight’s ability to grab and hold the attention of the room-comprised of school board members, the press and the public-as he presented the data and their professional conclusions. He eloquently explained that the details and construction methods originally used were pulling the building apart and causing masonry veneer issues they’d never seen before. Danny was also impressed by his boss’s ability to calmly and efficiently answer all of the questions thrown at him. He expresses that this opportunity to observe and work so closely with an exceptional teacher like Danny Speight contributed to making him an even better engineer. A few years later, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 erupted within miles of the high school causing unrepairable damage ultimately requiring the school to be demolished and rebuilt.  
When reflecting on his time at Speight Marshall Francis, Danny expresses his deep appreciation for the substantial amount of expertise demonstrated by the firm’s staff. During his second year of employment, Danny was tasked on two projects at Fort Lee where he served as the on call structural engineering consultant to a contractor. Daily on-site support became necessary therefore he set up his very own temporary office on base. The abundant collective knowledge of the highly-experienced engineers and staff back at the home office met the crucial needs of the contractor and Army Corps of Engineers. This exceptional teamwork experience proved to Danny that he had joined quite a dynamic group!  

Danny genuinely enjoys working with clients and co-workers, but particularly is fulfilled by the forensics aspect of engineering. Visiting project sites when there are causes for concern and developing engineering solutions to rectify structural insufficiencies is his passion. Danny always strives to uncover the most practical and cost-effective fixes to satisfy the unique needs of each and every client. He is a firm believer in “If we do not take care of our customers, someone else will.” A competitive spirit, Danny of course strives to be someone our clients know they can repeatedly count on! 
Personal Life:

Born and raised in the Midlothian area of Richmond, Danny comes from a long line of “Rudds” who settled, lived and influenced the city since the early 1800’s. The Rudd mark was made when Danny’s grandfather Herbert H. Rudd, Jr. co-founded the Midlothian Volunteer Fire Department. The original Rudd estate even remains standing today! Danny’s parents sill reside in his childhood home built in 1973 and located in Midlothian. 

Seven years ago, Danny took a trip down the aisle to wed Nicole, a very special friend of his for 26 years. Who knew he’d be so lucky to one day marry the beautiful young lady he took to homecoming in their junior year of high school?! Nicole works as an Executive Administrative Assistant with KPMG, LLP, an international accounting firm. They absolutely love raising and spending time with their 15-year-old daughter Madeline. Madeline is currently a sophomore in high school and has so many interests including historical events and sports. She loves to dance and practices tap, ballet and contemporary dancing. She also enjoys getting on the water with her dad to wake surf, wake board, and jet ski. Madeline cheers on the Pittsburg Steelers during football season and the Virginia Cavaliers football and basketball teams. When Madeline graduates Midlothian High School, she will be the fourth generation to do so and continue the Rudd legacy. 
When time allows it, Danny takes Nicole and Madeline to their family house on Lake Gaston. During the spring and summer months, they enjoy doing activities on the lake including fishing, boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, and riding personal watercrafts. Sounds like so much fun! Apart from all of this fun, Danny also looks forward to playing friendly rounds of golf and competing in tournaments. When the winter months debut, this charming family of three ventures to a snowy bluff to sharpen their skiing skills. A devout Christian, Danny also volunteers to manage the sound system at his church, Passion Community Church.  
Danny Rudd - engineer, husband, father and friend - is honorably continuing the Rudd legacy and we’re especially fortunate to have him as a part of our Speight Marshall Francis family.  
We hope you all enjoyed getting to know Danny Rudd, PE in our three-part employee spotlight series.
Feel free to drop Danny a line.

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Stayed tuned for future Employee Spotlights on other Speight Marshall Francis team members.