Commercial Development Resources (CDR) would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to returning alumni, Royce Eklund, P.E.! Royce is once again joining the CDR team to spearhead the opening of the company’s new east coast office in Charlotte, North Carolina. He holds professional engineering licenses in nine states including California, Washington, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. In his new role with CDR, as Regional Engineering Manager, he will be looking to grow CDR’s presence outside of California and serve as a Practice Lead for CDR’s California-based projects.
Royce started his civil engineering career at CDR, right after graduating from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with his degree in Civil Engineering. He recalled his first week of work at CDR and laughed as he said, “In my first week of work, our team hiked up Mount Shasta while there was still snow on it. We had ice picks and crampons. This was my first week working for Aaron and he was taking me up a mountain that was a 1:1 slope covered in ice.”
Royce went on to work alongside Principal Aaron Albertson and Director of Civil Engineering Mario Lomeli for 5 years, gaining valuable experience and learning directly from the two veterans in the field. During that time Royce worked on numerous projects, but he is most proud of his work on the Mercedes Benz – House of Imports, Maserati of Anaheim Hills, and Legoland Movie World.
The House of Imports in Buena Park in Orange County is a four-story luxury car dealership for all things Mercedes-Benz that required an almost 10-acre redo of the whole site to meet fire code, grading, stormwater, and utility requirements. The original site went up many decades ago and has been built upon for over 50 years. To say the site was “a challenge” to work on is putting it mildly. There were many issues with drainage, existing utilities, existing foundations from previous buildings (some unknown), and the challenge to tie into the adjacent site’s drive aisle and operations, but the site is finally complete after years of planning, design, and a great development team.
Maserati Anaheim Hills in Orange County is another site that Royce is proud to have worked on. This site is located directly off the large Riverside Freeway (SR-91), and was previously home to an old Olive Garden. Located on a five-acre lot, this project had several challenges including grading concerns and neighboring businesses that opposed any construction. Royce felt good about the improvements they helped make there: transforming a closed-down building with boarded windows into a beautiful Maserati showroom.
Legoland Movie World is another big project Royce worked on. Although it only takes up about an acre and a half on the Legoland site, it had numerous existing problems with old utilities, grading, varying “as-builts,” challenges with RFIs, and more. Royce was proud of the creativity and ingenuity that he and the CDR team deployed in every aspect of this project; from ADA compliance to coordination between the creative teams, architects, and landscape architects at Legoland.
After relocating to the East Coast, Royce took a brief hiatus from CDR to work at a North Carolina-based company, LandDesign. There he honed his skills in a different geological location. Managing stormwater, multi-family affordable housing, mixed-use residential townhomes, and greenways gave him a different perspective from working under the strict guidelines required in California.
“Working on a new mix of projects, like affordable housing, was a great learning experience. There are not many desirable sites remaining in Charlotte. From an engineering standpoint, the parameters we were working under were often less than ideal. Generally, we were working with difficult topography, limited utility infrastructure, existing easements that compromised buildable area, and difficult drainage issues,” described Royce.
When asked about the transition from working in California to working in several other states, Royce explained that the biggest difference he sees is that in California, development sites typically don’t have any extra land to spare. Their stormwater systems are all underground and contained underneath a parking lot or something similar because they can’t afford to sacrifice the site area to be used for stormwater BMPs. In North Carolina and other states, they generally do have enough land on the sites to be used for stormwater systems, ponds, sand filters, dry retention basins, or whatever the city guidelines require in the BMP hierarchy.
Royce was born and raised in San Diego, CA, but he is already making himself at home on the East Coast. He bought a house with his wife, Siobhan, and their dog Archie in North Carolina. Royce and Siobhan were recently married in Ireland, where Siobhan grew up, surrounded by family and friends. They both love the outdoors and exploring their new home state of North Carolina together.
As a lover of basketball and golf, Royce has definitely found the right place to settle down. North Carolina is known for many things; fabulous mountain landscapes, gorgeous sandy beaches, and – most importantly – great golf, boasting over 400 golf courses! The state’s temperate weather allows golf enthusiasts almost year-round access to the game.
When asked what Royce likes the most about working at CDR, he stated, “Being able to work directly with the owner of a company is really great. Aaron really cares about the company, his employees, and is heavily involved. He’s not above doing the grunt work, filling out applications if needed, and he will stay and make sure we are taken care of when we have deadlines. At CDR it truly feels like you are part of a team and not just a number with your utilization rate tied to you.”
Royce looks forward to networking, facilitating additional business, and generally guiding the company’s growth and expansion from their new east coast office in Charlotte, NC.