Local engineer offers career advice after years of experience

Bill Claassen was only 14 years old when he started working for his father, Wayne, at Claassen Engineering all the way back in 1960. 

Being a hard-working citizen of Waterloo has brought Bill much knowledge, but just as many complications in the world of business. “Running your own business is hard itself. You can’t just be successful after one day of work,” Bill said.

According to Bill, the hardest thing about wanting to run a business is having enough dedication. “I had a professor at Iowa State, and he had told us to look at the person to our right and then to our left. He said that one would become successful in the world of engineering, and the other would move on to do something totally different with their life,” he said. “It’s most difficult for people to decide what they want to do with their lives.”

Bill said one of the hardest things when it comes to business is people not seeing eye to eye. “There’s always more than one way of looking at things,” he said “What your client wants is what you’re designing.” Bill said asking questions like “What do you like and dislike about this?” or “Is there something we can do to make this better?” is key to meeting expectations for everyone involved.

Bill is currently working on the “Lost Island” theme park. The $100 million design process started in 2018, when the whole area was a cornfield. While working with so many other companies, he noted there are bound to be disagreements in the process. Disagreements are not avoidable, he said, and it’s always important to look at things from different perspectives.

He also stressed that communication with others when there are disagreements or confusion is the best way to avoid big conflicts among co-workers. When there is a lack of communication, bigger problems and conflicts can come to surface and just make it harder for everyone. “Communication is golden,” Bill said. 

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