Archives for Fall 2019


Steve Morrison: 42 Years of Dedication & Commitment

Few people can say they had a hand in helping shape a region, but Steve Morrison can. His 42-year career with Johnson Engineering gave him the opportunity to help our community become what it is today. 

Born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida, it was always Steve Morrison’s dream to become a pilot in the United States Air Force. As soon as he graduated from North Fort Myers High School in 1973, Steve ventured off to South Carolina to The Citadel in pursuit of his dream. Halfway through his schooling, he realized there were so many pilots waiting for flight training school, that there was no guarantee he would have the opportunity to actually get to fly, prompting him to rethink things and focus on his major of civil engineering.

After graduating with his Bachelor of Science degree in May 1977 and having passed his Engineer in Training (EIT) exam, Steve came back to Fort Myers for the summer. His plan was to pursue his master’s degree in construction management from Georgia Tech that fall, but as fate would have it, his part-time summer job ended up turning into a 42-year career with Johnson Engineering.

Steve began working for Johnson Engineering the summer of 1977 as a survey rodman just to earn money and get some experience before returning to school. Steve spent a month or so on the survey crew, when then president, Forrest Banks, PE, asked Steve to fill in for Dan Dickey, who was going on vacation. Dan was right in the middle of the Eastwood Golf Course construction project, so Steve moved from doing survey field work to engineering construction inspections.

Forrest saw something in Steve and didn’t want to lose him, so he asked him to stay on for a year and offered him a company sponsored scholarship to earn his master’s degree. Since it looked like he now had a job in Florida, Steve accepted and decided to attend the University of Florida (UF), and within one year, earned his Master’s in Engineering, specializing in water and wastewater utility design.

When Steve returned to work, Forrest asked him to help on a project for the master plan of the Charlotte County Airport, now known as the Punta Gorda Airport (PGD). Forrest placed a large stack of FAA/FDOT manuals and books on Steve’s desk and told him to read up! Steve spent countless hours educating himself about FAA regulations, which later helped Johnson Engineering become the Airport’s General Consultant. He became the design engineer for the Charlotte County Development Authority, where he designed the runway 3/21 extension, taxiway improvements, the replacement of the airport sewers, and the force main along Piper Road, connecting the I-75 rest area and the Airport to the City of Punta Gorda.

Within four years, Steve earned his Florida Professional Engineering license (PE) and was made a partner of the firm. Throughout the 1980s, the company transformed quite a bit with the introduction of computers and cell phones. Steve made a name for himself at the company, working as a project engineer on many of the area’s most recognizable projects such as the Florida Cities Water Company, Sanibel Sewer System, the Edison Mall, Shell Point Retirement Village, HealthPark, Gateway, and Babcock Ranch, to name a few.

In 1997, Steve was elected the company’s fourth president. He ran the company through the best of times and the worst of times. During this time, the company reorganized its management structure, having seven board members with an elected president. Under his direction, the company also created seven distinct specialized market groups, each led by one market leader for development, surveying & mapping, transportation, water resources, utilities, environmental, planning & landscape architecture.

Throughout the 2000s, the company thrived, more than doubling its employee count from 137 to 320 team members in a mere eight years. The company was named in ZweigWhite’s annual list of the 100 Fastest Growing Engineering/Architecture Firms in the United States for three consecutive years.

Under Steve’s leadership, the company had a healthy momentum moving forward as new services were added to complement our civil engineering work, the addition of new branch offices, and even a new corporate headquarters expansion in 2007.

The year 2008 proved to be the most challenging year for the company, and for Steve. The economic downturn forced many companies out of business. Steve was forced to make many difficult decisions to keep the firm from also going out of business. Steve, along with the company’s board and market leaders, came up with various ways to cut operational costs, initiating team member furlough days, imposed salary reductions, and eventually had to lay off more than half the company’s team members. “It was heartbreaking having to let go of some really great people”, said Steve. In the end, the company was fortunate to rebound from the recession and began thriving again. To date, we were able to rehire 11% of those former team members who were laid off during that taxing year.

After getting to the light at the end of this tunnel, Steve decided it was time to let the next generation of folks lead the company into the future. After 15 successful years serving as president, in 2012, Steve passed the torch to current president, Lonnie Howard, PE and Board Chairman Kevin Winter, PE. This transition was planned and accomplished over a year’s time to strategically shift responsibilities to Lonnie and Kevin. Steve was not ready to retire yet and wanted to return to his role as project engineer for a few of his major clients he had developed over the years.

Fast forward to 2019 and now after 42 years at Johnson Engineering, Steve decided he was ready to move onto the next chapter of his life…retirement. He and his wife Lisa packed up their Newmar motor home, with a Jeep Wrangler in tow and set off on the adventure of a lifetime traveling around the United States.

We wish Steve well in his journey and thank him for his commitment and dedication to Johnson Engineering.

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Johnson Engineering Now Has a Certified GIS Professional (GISP) on Staff

Johnson Engineering has been providing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) solutions and consultation services for private clients, local, regional, and state agencies since the mid-1990s. We utilize GIS technology to visualize, analyze, and interpret spatial data and imagery from a variety of sources in innovative ways to solve problems, answer questions, and perform complex calculations for our clients. GIS underpins many of today’s technology systems and provides perspective and insights not available through non-spatial techniques.

Geospatial technologies are rapidly changing and with each passing year, advances in GIS reveal exciting new possibilities. GIS professionals must be adaptable to an ever-changing technological landscape and be prepared to engage in continuing education in order to stay current on the newest trends, techniques, and new ways of optimizing and employing GIS technology. This is precisely why our senior GIS Analyst, Paul Lohr, recently became a Geographic Information Systems Certified Professional (GISP). Through his years of experience at Johnson Engineering, and technical expertise in GIS, he was able to successfully pass the certification exam and meet the standards for and professional practice established by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI). The GISP level of accreditation is the predominant and nationally recognized professional affiliation for the GIS industry.

Paul and the GIS team play a key role in helping our engineers, scientists, and ecologists develop creative ways to spatially enable our clients and their information. The goal is to develop unique, spatial methods for meeting their planning, permitting, mitigation, reporting, and compliance needs. Our GIS team helps turn geographic information into a valuable resource to be used as an everyday tool. We utilize ESRI’s ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Online mobile technology to provide an array of mapping, data management and spatial analysis solutions. Mobile and web-based online mapping displays specific GIS data layers to standard web browsers, iOS and Android tablets and phones, thereby greatly expanding data accessibility in the field.

GIS is a technology that helps us do our jobs more efficiently and accurately. We strive to find ways to accomplish more with smaller budgets, and GIS is a tool that has delivered success to our clients for a wide range of engineering, environmental, surveying and water quality aspects of their projects.

For information on how GIS can help your project succeed, contact Paul Lohr, GISP  or Mike Lohr, PSM at [email protected].

Visit our GIS online portal at:

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The City of Fort Myers Recognizes Johnson Engineering’s 10-year Canal Clean Up Commitment

Johnson Engineering received recognition from the City of Fort Myers for our successful efforts cleaning Carrell Canal for the last 10 consecutive years.
In 2009, the City initiative began as a way to decrease the amount of litter that flows through the City’s municipal separate storm sewer system, ultimately affecting the health of the Caloosahatchee River. The City selected 10 canals covering 12 miles of waterways and encouraged local businesses to adopt one canal to remove debris on a quarterly basis.

We chose to adopt Carrell Canal, the vital waterway that filters through a water basin we designed at the Fort Myers Country Club and then discharges into the Caloosahatchee River. By keeping this portion of the canal clean, it not only helps maintain the beautiful appearance of the Fort Myers Country Club, it allows for our water management system to run more efficiently and helps improve the water quality before discharging into the river.

In 2012, we received a first-place recognition community service award from the City of Fort Myers for our successful efforts in removing the most trash out of the seven other businesses participating in the program. Although originally committing to two years, our employees have continued donating their time for the last 10 years to collect trash and debris from the canal. To date, volunteers have collected an astonishing 426 bags of debris, totaling more than 23,430 gallons of trash from the one mile stretch of canal.

Johnson Engineering was the first company to sign up for the program 10 years ago and is the last remaining company who continues to participate.

We made this commitment because of our deep roots in the community dating back 73 years. The firm has worked, in one capacity or another, on all of the canals in this program throughout our long history and we want to continue doing our part to help improve the health of our community.

For more information, contact Marina Guirguis at [email protected].

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Johnson Engineering Presents at Annual FSA Conference

Scientists, engineers, managers, policy makers, and elected officials gathered in June for the 2019 Annual Florida Stormwater Associations (FSA) Conference, themed A Change in Climate – FSA: the Next 25 Years.

Johnson Engineering’s Sr. Environmental Scientist, Tim Denison co-presented on two studies titled “Why are the Bacteria Counts in my Stream still so High?“ and “Septic System Impacts on Stormwater and Impaired Waterbodies.”

For the first presentation, Tim and Sarasota County’s Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) Coordinator, Mollie Holland, discussed “Why are the Bacteria Counts in my Stream still so High?” They demonstrated how they designed and implemented a Microbial Source Tracking (MST) plan to help determine possible causes of elevated bacteria concentrations impacting the Phillippi Creek basin, which has been issued a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

During the second presentation, “Septic System Impacts on Stormwater and Impaired Waterbodies,” Tim presented along with Tetra Tech’s Sr. Water Resources Engineer Marcy Frick. The duo explained their findings of water quality benefits to stormwater, groundwater, and surface waters for the Spring Lakes area in Charlotte County following the County’s recent large-scale septic system removal project.

For more information, contact Sr. Environmental Scientist Tim Denison at [email protected].

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