As Kent Trierweiler, P.E., former Vice-President of Engineering, Technical Services and Contract Operations, retires from day-to-day operations at IAI, our senior management team reflects on Kent’s contributions to the company, and the lasting personal impact he made on his co-workers.
Kent Trierweiler is IAI’s employee number, 11. That says a lot, considering we are now issuing numbers in the 490’s. He was hired in September 2001, around the same time as Paul Stage, although there is some controversy over who came first: at IAI, instead of the chicken or the egg, was it the Engineer (Kent) or the Operator (Paul)?
Regardless of who started work first, Kent and Paul joined a small but formidable team that included Bill Cretens, Teri Kuhlman, Russ Johnson, and Dana Trierweiler, in an office off West River Drive in Comstock Park. Kent set to work, securing new process engineering and Contract Operations projects for IAI.
Not Just a Coworker, But a Brother
Dana Trierweiler says, “I had the privilege of working most of my professional career with my big brother. I remember people asking me ‘Why would you want to work with your brother?!?’ And I’d tell them, ‘Total and complete trust and confidence that he would always do the right thing.’ I can remember business associates saying of Kent, ‘I’d hate to be the one that had to take Kent’s clients away from him.’ It was because his clients had the same trust and confidence in him, and the company he represented. And it really didn’t matter what company he represented: it was all about the honesty, integrity, humility, and his passion to solve problems. To help others.
There’s no question that at the time Kent came to IAI, we were just starting out as a brand-new company. There were still some questions to be answered, as to our staying power, or our ability to survive the new company startup period and the growing pains that go along with that. Kent came in, rolled up his sleeves, and got on with the business of contributing to the overall team effort. Whether it was whacking geotextile tubes in Sebewaing, securing new Con Ops projects across the state, building an Engineering & Technical Services Division, managing people, or you-name-it; he just wanted to be a contributor to the team. And contribute he did. For about 20 years! There is no disputing that IAI is a stronger company because he was a part of it.”
Dana will tell you that Kent represents to him, “Total professionalism, total class, and total team player.”
The Right Council
John Barthels also has a long history with Kent. John and Kent started out their careers in the water and wastewater business on the very same day and have been friends and colleagues in various capacities ever since. Regarding Kent, John said, “In his 40-plus years in the water/wastewater business, Kent has brought no-nonsense, cost-effective solutions to a host of clients throughout the Midwest. His combination of experience and high integrity have helped guide his clients to successful long term utility reliability and efficiency. Kent always focused on the end user and how infrastructure investment would impact their financial position, as well as how necessary capital improvement would improve their lives and the environment. He has mentored many young engineers and his example of ‘doing it the right way,’ in concert with his work ethic and moral compass, have demonstrated to these young professionals through actions rather than words, how best to serve their clients and the industry. His leadership, governess and example have helped build IAI as a recognized leader in the Contract Operations industry.” One of John’s favorite stories about Kent involves a meeting between a new client and state regulatory officials. As Kent, a colleague and the new client walked into the meeting, the lead enforcement officer looked at the client and said, “I see you have brought the right council with you this time. I highly suggest you listen to them.”
An Ability to Communicate with Everyone
Paul Stage is the Operator who came before the Engineer and is another colleague who worked with Kent long before IAI came into existence. When asked to give his thoughts on Kent’s retirement, Paul said, “I have known Kent for going on 33 years. When I first started at WW Operations Services, I was a new operator, right out of Bay de Noc Community College and Kent was an engineer, working his way up the ladder at WW. From the first time I met him, he made me feel welcomed into the company and he treated me like a long-time coworker and friend.
The qualities that I noticed right away in Kent were his intelligence, practicality, and his ability to communicate with all types of people, which allowed him to make lifelong friends and allies with his clients and coworkers. I will miss working with him on a daily basis, but I wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
Pointing Us in the Right Direction
Unlike the rest of the relationships described here, Russ Johnson did not work with Kent prior to IAI. But their friendship was fast, and they worked very closely during the 20 years that Kent was with IAI. Russ says, “Kent and I met for the first time while doing a dredge job in Sebewaing, Michigan. We had not met before that day, but I felt that an instant friendship was hatched. We worked our butts off for the duration of that job, enduring the weather, deadlines, and some colorful characters along the way. After that job, it was always nice to visit with him when I was back in town because he was so easy to talk to. We could just pick up the conversation right where we left it from the last time. Slowly but surely, I came into the fold of Contract Operations with Kent as my supervisor. Together, we plowed a ton of ground. Some of it was pretty difficult work, but most of it was just head down, get it done correctly and move on to the next task. Kent always made time for a laugh or a good story, which made the mood light and the tasks easier. Because of him, I have plenty of stories of my own to share with the next cycle of young up- and-comers when their path becomes difficult. Kent still amazes me with his ability to look at a project from 10,000 feet and tell you off the top of his head that it will cost X dollars… and later, it turns out that he was only a few bucks off his initial estimate. He always told me that it was just from years of experience, but I would catch him peering into a crystal ball from time to time.
IAI is a great company, but it did not become this way on a whim. People like Kent gave us all a direction to point towards. Because of his direction, we are pointed the right way. Many thanks to you, Kent, for helping us along the way and making us all feel more like family. We would not be where we are without you. Just remember that I am King of the Tube!”
Trusted Colleague and Friend
It is fitting for Bill Cretens, IAI’s founder and Chairman of the Board, to have the last word, as we thank Kent for his work and leadership. Bill says, “My personal and professional relationship with Kent spans over 40 years, as we worked together at Earth Tech for over 20 years before I started IAI. I have a deep level of respect for Kent as a professional and consider him one of my closest friends.
I will always remember Kent for his professionalism and sense of mission. Clients, coworkers, vendors, and regulators all respect him and genuinely enjoy spending time with him. It’s this trait that has carried Kent throughout his career. He always answered the bell, no matter the task or challenge, and I could always trust that he would get it done. Trust. That’s one of the words I think of the most regarding Kent.
I love Kent Trierweiler like a brother, and I can say with a high degree of confidence that we won’t see another one quite like him. IAI wouldn’t be what it is today without his tireless commitment, and he will always be a part of the IAI family and its legacy.”