Members at Work:
Millennium Planning and Engineering
By Julia Halverson
The Blueprint of Communities
Located 471 Sutton Way suite 210, Millennium Planning and Engineering is one of Nevada County’s tucked away treasures. Near the heart of Grass Valley, in the second story of a small yet bustling building, lies the business, owned by Robert Wood and his two partners, Michelle Layshot and Eric Crabb. Walking into the suite, the atmosphere was immediately one of welcoming, professionalism, and care. I was greeted by Mr. Wood himself, and the normal nervousness of an interview was assuaged in an instant. The overall experience of the business and interview with Mr. Wood was personable, enjoyable and enlightening.
“I’ve been in this type of business for 20 years, and I’ve owned this company for just over a year,” says Wood, who is the principal planner and CEO for Millennium Planning and Engineering. The business, Wood states, is “around 80% engineering and 20% regulatory.” While they offer a wide array of services, in both land planning and civil engineering, most of their work pertains to the engineering and design aspects of construction for large and small scale projects. “We do a lot of designs for grading plans, improvement plans and drainage plans, those sorts of things.” While the business offers a plethora of services, construction is not included. “We design the projects that go to construction; we don’t do the actual construction,” replies Wood, discussing the business’s role in the designing aspect. “We design a project at a preliminary or conceptual level, get that project approved, and once it’s approved then we design it so that a contractor can take our plans and build it.”
In a complex and impactful business such as Robert Wood’s, employment is a topic that is taken into heavy consideration. “There’s kind of a split between personality and qualifications. I tend to lean heavier on personality because I think we can train people if they have the right personality… if someone’s highly skilled but has the wrong personality it can be a bit difficult, especially in a small office…” replies Wood, when asked how their employment decisions reflect on their business. Since their business pertains to engineering and complicated software, employees often have a background in engineering and are trained with the business’s primary program. “… one of the most critical things for us is experience with AutoCAD. AutoCAD is the program we use to do most of our designing— we typically design everything in CAD, which stands for Computer Aided Drafting,” replies Wood, discussing how the business’s driving force impacts the company.
Every business has its challenging projects, and Millennium Planning and Engineering is no different. When asked about their most challenging project, Wood replied; “Plural… large master plan communities in Truckee. It takes a long time, the process takes a long time. There’s a lot of governmental requirements.” Developing designs for communities often can be challenging, and as Wood says, each project has its own challenges. “A lot of projects are subjective. You have to work a long time with the government agencies to get things approved,” says Wood. However, time isn’t always the biggest challenge. “I would say the biggest challenge is so many multiple agencies… and conflicting interests.”
Millennium Planning and Engineering creates meaningful projects, both big and small. “I think all of our projects are impactful… and I think every project we work on is impactful in some way, either on a small scale or a bigger scale.” Businesses like Robert Wood’s make a huge difference in communities, and for those who are part of the business as well. “I just love being able to impact the community in a positive way,” replies Wood. “I love to design something, create something and be a part of that… to be able to drive past it on a day to day basis, and know that I have a part in making that happen. I was born and raised here— my satisfaction comes from being able to see a lot of things in the community, saying I had a part in that.” Wood, who was born and raised here, always keeps the community in his mind while creating impactful projects. He and the other people who work in Millennium Planning and Engineering care for the community and care about making it a better place. “… I want every project to make the community better— I really enjoy what I do.”