From a partnership to a thriving business, Clarence Littlefield and Jim Wundt set Southwest Engineers up after leaving National Engineering in Gonzales. The two friends ventured into what has now become a thriving and reliable organization, now owned and led by Clarence’s own son, John Littlefield.
When speaking with Clarence, it’s easy to tell how proud he is of all that has been accomplished over the last 39 years. With over 700 clients and counting, multiple ongoing projects and an established central Texas presence, it’s no surprise that this team has earned the reputation of excellence and has long withstood the test of time.
Clarence is a happy and humble man, who explains his love for the business as simply “a love for helping others.”He didn't give me a quote about competition or business strategy, he merely stated that when he began work as an engineer he was independent and trusted by his superiors in getting the work done, the right way and on time. Clarence follows that direct work ethic with the heart of someone who enjoys his profession and took it seriously since day one.
He recalls the roots of the business, telling me that “early on we were involved with creating a number of water systems, ”adding that from Austin to Laredo, Southwest Engineers worked to “bring water systems to all the rural areas in between”the two cities.
When I inquired about what makes his work so rewarding, he tells me, “the most satisfying was being able to provide people with first time water service or first-time wastewater service, bringing these services to communities who were hauling undrinkable water from wells... working with areas who didn’t have a public system where in most cases the wells were contaminated or had low water quality was challenging but necessary work and I felt good about improving their situation.”
I did ask Clarence for his best advice aimed at both practicing engineers and those considering the field, to which he replied, “for civil engineers you have to be wanting to help and improve the life and infrastructure for the community, if you don't go into it with that mentality you won’t enjoy it, you're going to constantly work on solving problems regarding quality of life. If you want to serve the community then you will be successful and happy in your career.”
While Clarence insists on never retiring, he does enjoy a life outside the engineering world that includes being married for over 50 years to his “wise and beautiful”wife Nancy, “serving in the church and supporting all aspects of community growth”, and nurturing his passion for traveling with monthly trips and exquisite photography to match. He ends our talk with his hopes for the future of the company and words of wisdom for all, “in order to continue growing you must keep having fun, keep helping people and don’t quit!”