Each year, the underground construction industry recognizes a person who makes a significant, positive difference to their business or organization. The 2013 Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award, presented jointly by the Underground Construction Technology Association (UCTA) and Underground Construction magazine, was bestowed to Antonio “Tony” V. Almeida, P.E., business development manager, Halff Associates.
It was for his lifelong professional accomplishments that Almeida was recognized for this distinguished award at a special ceremony held during the annual Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition (UCT) at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX, on Jan 29.
Almeida’s service to the industry has been a hallmark of his career. He played an instrumental role in developing standards for trenchless technologies, and, as the national chairman for Committee F-17, helped guide ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, to a better understanding of the legitimacy of these techniques in the marketplace.
ASTM International is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. Today, some 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence.
Almeida was completely caught off guard by his selection as the 2013 MVP. “I was very surprised by the news,” Almeida said of his initial reaction. “I’m especially humbled to be sharing this honor with the previous recipients – many of whom are friends and professionals I have long admired in this industry. I realize there are many people who supported my nomination, making it a special highlight of my life.”
To his colleagues and those who have worked with Almeida in the underground industry, this award is well deserved. Gary N. Oradat, P.E., president of Oradat & Associates P.C., said it best when he presented the 2013 MVP Award to Almeida.
“To truly appreciate Tony’s contribution to our industry, we have to go back to a time when trenchless technology was truly in its infancy,” Oradat said. “Think back to the first time you heard about cured-in-place pipe, or fold-n-form, or the various forms of profile wall PVC pipe. Today, these are common place; however, in the 1990s, many of these products and rehabilitation techniques were fighting to gain traction in the marketplace. Before that could take place, they first had to gain a stamp of legitimacy. That need drove them to Committee F-17 of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The national chairman of F-17 was Tony Almeida.
“Not only was Tony the committee chair, he was also one of only a handful of public servants who were actively involved in ASTM. Tony not only kept the various interested and competing parties in check, he also took it upon himself to ensure that the public interest was always protected. He did this by making sure the ASTM process was open, fair and available to all.
“Under Tony’s leadership, the vast majority of trenchless products which benefit the public today were marshaled through the ASTM process. Under Tony’s leadership, ASTM’s Trenchless Technology Subcommittee (F17-67) was created.
“But make no mistake, his leadership came at a price. Any yet, through it all, Tony maintained the highest standards of professionalism and character, and served both the public interest and our industry with integrity.”
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Texas Tech University in 1971, Almeida would go on to garner more than 41 years of experience in the water and wastewater industry, both in municipal engineering and private consulting. Almeida started his career at Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) as a design engineer where he gained experience in all phases of the utilities department’s operations, ranging from planning, budgeting, contracts, design and construction for both facilities and pipelines.
In 1985, Almeida became the division manager for an $80 million water and wastewater pipeline design program for Dallas. In 1987, he became deputy director of construction for both facilities and pipelines, managing 250 employees and four construction divisions for a $147,000,000 annual program. In 1989, he became deputy director of the $35 million pipeline program for design and construction.
In 2000, he joined Halff Associates, a multi-discipline firm headquartered in Texas with approximately 430 employees. He currently serves as business development manager for a team that manages large utility projects and programs for many north Texas cities. Almeida uses his extensive public sector experience to assist the team in the role of mentor, leader and technical advisor to ensure project quality and control. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Texas.
Almeida has found the second half of his career both satisfying and challenging. “As part of the business development and sales marketing team, I found myself calling on the same people I had worked side-by-side with in my prior career at DWU,” explained Almeida. “I found this new role to be more challenging than expected and I became much more sympathetic to sales professionals that had called on me in my role at DWU. The challenge of marketing engineering services in this competitive marketplace is rewarding. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are always in play!”
Almeida also exhibits a sincere sense of service to the engineering profession through his work on numerous technical and professional committees. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Water Environmental Federation, the Water Pollution Control Federation, and the American Water Works Association. Almeida also serves as vice president on the board of directors for the UCTA. He has one U.S. patent and two patents under review and has published articles in several professional journals. Almeida has received recognition and several awards including the ASTM International: 2001 Award of Merit and ASTM Fellow; the 1997 Paul Finn Award; the 1996 Reinhart-Kuhllmann Award; the 1989 National Wastewater Collection Award from the Water Environment Federation and Sidney L. Allison Award from the State of Texas; and the DWU’s highest award, the Division Manager’s Trophy in 1985. He is the recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineering Management Award for Innovated Work in the Rehabilitation of Wastewater Access Manholes; and an Appreciation Award from ASTM for his service as a subcommittee chairman of F17.62 Plastic Sewer Pipe.
As for career achievements, what may surprise most of his colleagues are not the various projects he has worked on or the many committees for which he has served. Most satisfying to Almeida has been when he is given the opportunity to mentor others.
“The most rewarding experience was not a project that brought me recognition or publicity,” he explained. “It has been the opportunity to mentor young professionals in my field. It is with great pride that I contributed to the career development of many utility directors and consulting engineers in our great state of Texas. It would be impossible to quantify how many lives their contributions have impacted. I am grateful to be a part of that.”
As a member of ASTM for more 25 years, Almeida continues to be actively involved in helping deliver the test methods, specifications, guides and practices that support industries and governments worldwide. For his contributions and length of service, Almeida has received “Fellow” status.
Almeida currently serves on six ASTM subcommittees which produce standards that govern the production and quality of pipe products used in the water and wastewater industry.
“I realized early in my career that ASTM standards for products I was installing dictated the useful service life of the pipelines and appurtenances,” said Almeida. “To be a good steward of the public’s trust, I decided to participate and express the user’s interest in the development of ASTM standards. This endeavor also increased my knowledge and network of experts in the industry.”
Almeida’s initial involvement in trenchless activities began in the 1980s when the techniques were referred to as BOTC – by other than open cut. Almeida explains that when he was a chief design engineer working at DWU, he met with Bob Affholder, Affholder/Mid America, who had a chance meeting on a plane with Tom Driver who talked to him about Insituform, an emerging trenchless leader in trenchless technology. Once his curiosity was peaked, it wasn’t long before Affholder/Mid America employees, Jim Scott and Mark Slack, visited Almeida to demonstrate cured-in-place pipe (CIPP). Soon after, they began volunteering at ASTM to write F-1216, the ASTM standard for CIPP.
When asked where he thinks the future of trenchless technology lies, Almeida believes “it will expand to fill the void created by the deteriorating, existing sub-surface infrastructure. As more and more utilities begin to develop asset management programs, and those assets are identified as needed to be replaced or rehabilitated, the trenchless toolbox will be called upon to provide solutions. The products and technology will sell itself.”
Looking ahead, Almeida said he’d like to one day be involved in a pipeline that directly connects and conveys treated wastewater effluent to the head works of a water treatment plant. “That day is not too far in the future, and I want to be a part of that before I end my career,” he stressed.
Reflecting on his long career, Almeida is quick to appreciate all of the people who have been there along the way. “I have been privileged to work with some of the most talented and dedicated professionals. In particular, the city of Dallas and the Dallas Water Utilities Department, where I took a leap of faith when I started by career; and at Halff Associates, where I’ve worked with some of the best engineering talent in the state of Texas. I’ve gained a lot of scar tissue and developed some long lasting friendships,” he said.
However, it is his father whom he credits most for inspiration. He passed away when Almeida was only 15-years old. “My father encouraged me to get an education,” reflects Almeida. “He worked as a supervisor for a gas and pipe line contractor in New Jersey, working tirelessly to give his family more than he had. I was inspired by his work ethic and sacrifice to make a difference in the lives of others. When I look back at how I grew up and what I have achieved, I am confident my father would be pleased. I have been very fortunate to be blessed by the right people at the right time in my life to keep moving in the right direction.”
It’s also been a career in which he has been able to share with his wife of more than 41 years, Margaret Janice, who make their home in Allen, TX. They have two grown sons, Anthony and Michael.