Founded: 1960 in Norfolk by Wilfred P. Large
Headquarters: 242 Mustang Trail, Suite 8, in Virginia Beach
WPL is certified as a Small, Women-owned and Minority-owned (SWaM) business in Virginia. The Virginia S corporation offers a full range of professional services in landscape architecture, land surveying and civil engineering throughout southeastern Virginia and across the commonwealth.
Current owners: Billy Almond, principal in charge, Landscape Architecture Division; Eric Garner, principal in charge, Land Surveying Division; Brian Large, chief financial officer; and Erick “Smitty” Smith, senior associate/construction administrator
Milestones reached: In 1977, before 401(k)s were a standard, Wilfred set up a program to put money aside for employees’ pensions. Wilfred also paid for employees’ insurance back then.
Adding the civil engineering division when Wilfred’s son, Lance, came to work for the family business after graduating from Virginia Tech with a civil engineering degree.
Growing the firm by adding the Landscape Architecture division in 2000.
Obstacles overcome: In 1959 with the economic downturn, Wilfred and Buddy broke off to start their own land surveying firm. Wilfred borrowed $1,500 from his brother-in-law to buy their one set of survey equipment to get them started.
As a startup company, they had to battle the big survey firms to win work. The challenge was breaking into the business as a two-man firm with one administrative person, but they did it by forming relationships and providing quality service.
At one time, WPL was running eight crews but was not profitable at that size, so the executives cut back on the number of survey crews and became more efficient once again for all market sectors.
Keys to longevity: “Everyone can do what we do. But Wilfred preached service. Call people back and communicate with the clientele. Keep your promises. Building relationships, they can last a lifetime,” William “Buddy” Pritchard said. He said Wilfred used to turn his watch back 15 minutes to ensure he would always be on time and pushed Buddy to do the same.
What’s next: WPL is now on the forefront of major issues affecting coastal Virginia such as sea level rise, recurrent flooding and stormwater management, which are all design criteria in all development projects. Stewardship of the land is our mission for the future.
For more information: Kate Cerone 757-431-1041, Ext. 20; Wplsite.com or @wplsitedesign on Instagram