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October 22, 2018 Family Business Awards 2018

Russell and Dawson Inc.

Russel and Dawson Inc. President Chirag Thaker and his wife Jalpa Thaker, office manager.

First-Generation Honoree — 25 to 75 employees category

Russell and Dawson Inc.

Headquarters: East Hartford

Industry: Architecture, Engineering, Construction

Year Founded: 1965

Founders: Dan Lyman Russell and Robert M. Dawson

Generation Currently Running Company: 1st

No. of Full-Time Employees: 35

No. of Part-Time Employees: 0

Family Members Currently Employed at Company: Chirag Thaker, President, husband; Jalpa Thaker, Office Manager, wife.

Company Website:

Russell and Dawson Inc. is an architecture, engineering and construction services company serving six states, with a primary focus on hotels and public buildings.

Dan Lyman Russell, a graduate of Syracuse University, and Robert M. Dawson III, a graduate of MIT, founded the architecture and engineering firm of Russell and Dawson in 1965 in Hartford.

In 2007, Chirag and Jalpa Thaker acquired the firm from the founders and have since restructured the business, including by expanding the firm to Florida, Vermont, New Hampshire and India.

Recent accomplishments

Russell and Dawson Inc. has expanded its service offerings by adding construction services. As a result, it is now an integrated architecture, engineering and construction firm. The firm has two ongoing hotel design-build construction projects for brand names such as Hilton and Marriot and two more design-build projects in pipeline for this year.

Russell and Dawson has created five new direct jobs in the state and over 100 through construction contractors.

How do you remain competitive in the market?

Over the last 10 years we have strengthened a culture of: customer success — always putting the client first in all our service offerings and interactions and making it easy for them to work with us; talent development — continuously learning, developing and improving to achieve the highest standards of excellence; innovation for quality, cost and speed — adapting the advances in digital transformation for speed and quality of our services and offerings to customers and embracing industry 4.0 technology; ethical behavior — doing the right things, the right way for all stakeholders.

How do you instill your family values in your employees?

We believe that we lead by example and inclusion. We engage with our employees in their happy times and difficult days. We mentor them professionally and personally to be successful in life, not just the project on hand.

Our kids come to work during their days away from school and hang out with professionals as if they are part of the working team, thus everyone learns the same attitude. Our employees are part of most of our meetings and decisions with suppliers and customers, thus practicing what we believe in.

What is the biggest challenge to your business in the coming year?

We are in a growth mode and we struggle to acquire talent. On one end, qualified architecture and engineering professionals are hard to come by, and on the other hand there is also a scarcity of skilled construction workers. The situation with experienced managers is not better and part of it is fueled by growth all over the state.

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