James H. “Jim” Kleinfelder, P.E., M.ASCE, an ASCE Life Member who launched one of the first major engineering firms to delve into environmental services, died March 5. He was 82.
Shortly after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Kleinfelder began working for the city of Stockton as a resident engineer. In 1961, he invested his life savings in a construction-materials engineering and testing firm, Stockton Testing and Controls Inc., which he ran from his garage. A fast-growing reputation and rapidly expanding list of clients and projects led him to hire staff and open additional offices, first in Merced, Fresno, and Sacramento, and a name change to J.H. Kleinfelder and Associates. Under his stewardship, Kleinfelder mentored many younger staff members, and continued to develop his lieutenants’ leadership skills, knowing that investing his time that way would bring great dividends.
When he retired in 1993, the firm bearing his name had grown to more than $50 million in annual revenue. Today, Kleinfelder ranks in the top 50 of Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 companies, with nearly $400 million in annual revenues and some 2,000 employees in 70 offices in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Notably active in the Geoprofessional Business Association and the American Council of Engineering Companies’ Hazardous Waste Action Coalition, Kleinfelder served each as president. In 2012, his college alma mater recognized him with inclusion in the inaugural class of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni at the University of California, Berkeley.