BFW/Marcum wouldn’t be where it is today without a solid foundation based on innovation, hard work, and some good decisions at key moments in the firm’s growth. While we may come from a humble background, we’ve become something greater than we could have ever imagined. However, how we got to where we are is just as important as where we’re going.

An Engineer and an Entrepreneur Walk into a Bar

Mark Workman, one of our founders, remembers the beginnings of BFW/Marcum fondly.

“Chris Farmer and I were competitors when we first met. Yet, we found common ground in that we were both questioning our career paths at our respective companies. We decided to meet at a local Paducah bar by the name of the Twinkling Star and discuss our futures.

We hit it off, not because we were exactly alike, but because our personalities were completely different. We envisioned coming together in a way that allowed our personalities and skillsets to complement one another. We’ve since learned that’s exactly the recipe for a successful partnership. At the time, we were taking a gamble.

Our first office was in my spare bedroom. We had just as much workspace as an old dusty card table from my attic would allow. As barebones as the setup was, we felt that same thrill Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak must have felt when they were working out of a garage: Your space didn’t matter—your ideas were flowing, and that was what was important.”

The Blueprints Are Arranged

Chris Farmer, another one of our founders, recalls the process behind the plan.

 “The original plan was to start in the environmental consulting sector and slowly transition into an overall consulting firm for the engineering industry. We laid the groundwork, and it looked very straightforward on paper, but the execution was something else entirely.

Both Mark and I were pretty green at that point in our careers. I was twenty-seven at the time and just testing the waters of entrepreneurship. We understood you needed tenacity and a certain threshold of risk, but it’s easy to underestimate just how much of both is required to run a venture.”

Farmer and Workman Come Together

“In hindsight, we have so many people to thank for much of our success. It seemed that each step of the way, we had someone willing to take a chance on us or even mentor us. It just goes to show that if you’re kind, have a vision, and are willing to work hard, people will take notice.

We can truly say that Bacon Farmer Workman and Marcum have been built on relationships with people who believed in our vision, which, back then, was to simply survive and get noticed in the competitive engineering industry. We’ve since figured that part out and are constantly looking forward to the exciting progress our industry has made and the multitude of resources we have at our disposal today thanks to our success.

Today, we are blessed to have nine locations with over 100 of the most talented professionals in the industry, not just on our team, but in our family. With that said, the key to our future success is based around our mission, values, and the subsequent culture of the company. Every coworker at BFW/Marcum contributes to multiple levels, from technical expertise to the culture of the company and the way we do business. The future of the firms is limitless because of what we value most: our clients, the community, and our family of employees.”

Ron Bacon Joins and Bacon Farmer Workman is Created

Ron Bacon had decades of experience already under his belt when he decided to join the small firm that Mark and Chris had put together.

“I came to the firm almost through sheer chance. There was a change in ownership at my previous employer, which left me to decide if I wanted to leave the Paducah region to stay with that firm. I had a strong desire to stay where I was, which led me to the opportunity to join Mark and Chris. They’d already begun a successful albeit small firm. Everyone onboard was young and hungry, but they were at a pivotal point in the firm’s growth where they needed to add some depth to their experience.

I was well into my engineering career with over twenty years of experience. After some discussion, the three of us decided to work together, and the rest is history. There’s an odd detail I will always remember about my first day at the firm: Even with the amount of success they had, and the subsequent hustle and bustle of the office, I asked where the coffee pot was on my first day. Both Mark and Chris looked at one another and admitted they didn’t have one—no one drank coffee there. I couldn’t imagine an engineer that didn’t run on caffeine, so I asked them to send someone out to grab a coffee maker that day, and they happily obliged. I like to think we received a 5% bump in productivity from that day onward. Everyone can thank me.

It seemed that, almost overnight, Bacon Farmer Workman started to open doors to a much larger array of projects. My experience mixed with the rest of our team’s energy seemed to be a winning combination. When I joined the firm, I nearly hit the ground running, and it hasn’t seemed to slow down since.

Today, we are at a privileged place in our industry where we can afford to bring in talent even if we do not exactly need the manpower. When we bring people in, we invest in them, and we want them to stay with us. It’s a great place to be.”

BFW becomes BFW/Marcum

We wanted to broaden our engineering services with the addition of mechanical and electrical. We chose to acquire a reputable firm from Bill Marcum, PE.  With our acquisition of Marcum Engineering in 1999, we needed to bring someone in to lead the transition and act as the figurehead for that part of our business—that someone was Baccus Oliver, who will now explain what an asset Marcum Engineering has become to the firm.

“I came on board to assist with the acquisition of Marcum Engineering. I helped with the onboarding process of that firm, and today, I lead the Marcum side of the firm as Mechanical Principal Engineer.

A lot has changed after we took ownership of Marcum. We grew our resources from five to thirty employees, and we’ve moved to a larger facility that is shared with BFW. Beyond that, we’re building up an office right now in Marion, Illinois.

Bringing another firm into the fold isn’t as simple as laying down some money. You have to carefully preserve what made that business special in the first place. Each piece of our firm is a puzzle—you need to find where the pieces fit together. It takes patience and due diligence.”

Marcum Energy Management Solutions (MEMS) is Born and BFW/Marcum Corner the High-Performance Market

Russ Litsinger likes to say his career with us started with “little experience but boundless ambition.” While he may be humble about his experience, his ambition was indeed boundless. Russ was brought in to spearhead our high-performance and energy-efficiency efforts and helped us to make MEMS what is it today—an industry-leading solution to build high-performance, green, and energy-efficient structures.

“My career began with the firm in 2005. I had recently graduated from engineering school while also working full-time. Looking back, I give Mark, Chris, Ron, and Baccus a lot of credit for taking a chance on someone who had very little previous experience with HVAC or general consulting. They must have seen something in me.

After joining the firm, I spent the next six years ‘learning the ropes’ and listening to my incredibly talented colleagues. Much of what they taught me isn’t taught in school; it’s real-world engineering, something you only get from the field and dealing with experts.

It was into the six-year mark that I was given the opportunity to spearhead a segment of the firm that would be devoted to advancing the art and science of energy-efficiency and high-performance buildings. Thus, MEMS was born.

Since I joined, I’ve seen the entire firm grow before my eyes. We had around forty employees when I started and now have over a hundred, all with diverse skill sets. We continue to work together in profound ways, making each of our contributions so much more when it all comes together seamlessly. I take this wider philosophy and apply it to my work at MEMS. We’re structured to be agile and to respond to the rapidly-changing paradigms in the energy industry. We accomplish this by building, piece by piece, a team of knowledgeable people that come together as one unit.”

What’s in Store for the Future?

According to Russ, “I expect to see the company continue to reach new heights in the years to come, largely as a result of the strength of character of the people who make up our organization.

I’m often reminded of something Albert Einstein once said about the character of a person, and I think it can be applied to our success here at BFW/Marcum:

‘Try not to become a person of success but rather try to become a person of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a person of value will give more than he receives.’”