Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:37 pm
Ruekert/Mielke, a Waukesha-based engineering firm, experienced steady growth during its 60 years in business by focusing on public projects, quality of service and referrals.
The future of the company will depend on the same principles, said Bill Mielke, president and chief executive officer. Mielke plans to continue on the path his father, John, forged in 1946, by making Ruekert/Mielke a leader in innovation and a servant to the community.
Ruekert/Mielke had a hand in the development and incorporation of almost every town, city and village in Waukesha County with the implementation of sewer and water systems and the development of treatment and utility facilities 60 years ago.
“Our firm has had many firsts in Wisconsin and in the nation in the development of innovative waste water treatment facility equipment for plants, to increase their level of water quality produced,” Bill said.
Today, the accelerated growth in southeastern Wisconsin as a whole will demand new sewer and water systems, new water treatment facilities and innovative ways for communities to share infrastructures in the near future. Ruekert/Mielke plans to help communities accommodate these changes with technologically advanced solutions, including computer-operated treatment facilities, Bill said.
“The theme is sustainability,” Bill said. “Communities need to focus on what they are building and how they are going to manage it so that the future generations have as good as or better than the quality of life that we enjoy.”
John retired in 1989, about 15 years after his founding partner, Frank Ruekert, retired from the company. At 87 years old, John comes into the office every Friday and is still involved in the advancement of the company.
Bill joined the company in 1971. He became chief executive officer in 1980 and president in 1989. Since Bill has worked for Ruekert/Mielke, the company has grown from about 22 employees to about 133 employees, and from two divisions to eight.
“We have a steady growth plan put in place that will require additional offices in the region,” Bill said.
Bill is in final negotiations to purchase at least one additional office location outside of southeastern Wisconsin. He declined to disclose the location.
Ruekert/Mielke divisions include land surveying, engineering, geographic information systems (GIS), financial services, supervisory control and data acquisition design, landscape architecture services, a planning division and an aquifer science and technology (AST) division.
The company’s specialty services include wastewater treatment, water and sewer systems, municipal planning, facilities design and field services.
The technology, data acquisition and financial services divisions will equip Ruekert/Mielke to help communities with the impending transition of water and sewer systems and facilities, Bill said.
“In southeastern Wisconsin, just about every community is on its first generation of infrastructure and many sewer and water systems are between 50 and 100 years old,” Bill said. “The majority of the emphasis will be on how can communities best maintain and operate facilities and replace the (current) systems while still building new facilities to accommodate growth in the region.”
The life expectancy of a sewer system is about 75 to 100 years, Bill said. Older water maims are expected to work for 50 to 75 years. Not only do many of those systems in the area need to be replaced in the next few years, but in many cases they are going to need to be larger to accommodate growth, Bill said.
To aid municipalities and communities in the expected transitions, which could include sharing water or treatment facilities between communities or the cost of a new water and sewer system, Ruekert/Mielke offers public education and staff training.
“We take public education very seriously,” said company spokeswoman Mary Nowakowski. “Decisions made today will affect taxpayers for many years after. Plus, we would much rather have an educated client.”
The firm holds continuous seminars year-round, with topics including what Ruekert/ Mielke has learned in the field, how to better operate systems and communities, quiet zones, flooding, leaking sewers, pavement, how to best deal with people and how to better finance projects including getting grant money and tax incremental financing (TIF) districts, Nowakowski said.
“To help communities, they have to learn to trust you,” Bill said. “We are a longtime known commodity and a reputation of a highly ethical firm. Before you get community leaders to listen to what you say, they have to trust and believe in your approach.”
Ruekert/Mielke was involved in the incorporations of the Village of Menomonee Falls and the cities of Brookfield, New Berlin and Muskego and designed the municipal wells and water towers throughout Waukesha County, Bill said.
The firm continues to follow this pattern and recently completed the sewer systems for Okauchee Lake, Upper and Lower Nashotah Lakes, Upper and Lower Nemahbin Lakes and Silver Lake.
In the past, there has been practically no regional cooperation, but communities are starting to be more cognizant of the areas around them, Bill said.
Ruekert/Mielke helped spearhead the movement in Racine County toward tax-base sharing, Bill said.
“Taxpayers want the government to work quicker, faster and better with less money,” Bill said. “Ruekert/Mielke is better-suited to help communities with their infrastructure, utilities and the asset management of everything they have to make the operation function at the same level of service with less people.”
State-of-the-art technology, needs analysis and staff training services offered by Ruekert/Mielke will help the firm achieve this goal, Bill said.
GIS mapping, application development and Web-based communication management have already been implemented by Ruekert/Mielke for various municipalities in and out of Wisconsin, Bill said.
Ruekert/Mielke also has the ability to design systems so that a computer can manage the water and sewer utility for most of the functions. The program is set up so that the computer will call a staff member if it is having a problem.
The core of their business is in southeastern Wisconsin, although the company performs specialty work across the country, Bill said.
With the addition of the AST division, the engineers at Ruekert/Mielke are helping with underground water issues for municipalities on both coasts. Ruekert/Mielke sits on the regional planning commission for water study to determine where municipalities will get water for the next century in this area.
As much as Ruekert/Mielke is concerned about the future of the area, the company itself plans to be a part of it for years to come, Bill said.
“We are in business for the long haul and long term and we have visions of being involved in the future of the area,” Bill said. “We have been important cogs involved in almost every community in Waukesha County and we plan to be in the long term. We plan to continue to service the needs of the communities that we helped to build.”
Location: W233 N2080 Ridgeview Pkwy., Waukesha
Leadership: Bill Mielke, president and chief executive officer
Web site: www.ruekert-mielke.com