Having recently reached a career milestone, 40 years with Underwood & Rosenblum, Frank Rosenblum recently sat down to discuss his career, lessons-learned and hopes for the future of the firm.

“To say that I was enthusiastic in my 20’s is probably an understatement” is how the story begins. With his college graduation looming, Frank began his search for a job. Seeing a notice tacked on a corkboard (“with a real thumbtack”), he put the help-wanted ad in his pocket and decided to give Cliff Underwood a call. In March 1984, Frank began his career with, what would later become, Underwood & Rosenblum.

Back in 2003, U&R creatively converted a van into what may be the first mobile survey office. This mobile survey office was equipped with high tech survey equipment, a power supply, computer workstation, and a desk. On a record breaking volunteer trip to Yosemite, U&R took the office CAD plotter and delivered a full-sized drawing on the spot.

For the first several years, as a firm of four, the company worked on civil engineering projects in the San Jose area. During that time, the computer age was rapidly moving forward and Frank took the opportunity to begin the transition of the firm from hand-drawn layouts to computer-based systems. This process took many years, with some software developed by Frank, and a great deal of research, and trial-and-error. The firm was proud to be the first civil engineering firm in  the San Jose area to use AutoCAD software, which is now the industry standard.

During that time, Frank also took furthering his education and credentials very seriously. Even after he obtained his professional civil engineering license in 1987.  Traveling after work to a community college an hour’s train ride away, Frank studied land surveying and earned his Professional Land Surveying license in 1990.  With the completion of that licensure, Frank was the youngest person in California to hold both an engineering license and a surveying license.

Following those events, Frank approached Cliff about the possibility of buying the firm.  As Cliff was contemplating retirement, the two struck a deal and Frank purchased the firm.  Cliff remained until his full retirement in 1993. The firm’s name was changed at that time to Underwood & Rosenblum.

Through the years Frank worked diligently to build the staff and portfolio through some very difficult economic times (and some good too!) including the ”great recession of 2007-09 and the COVID pandemic that began in 2020. He credits the resiliency of the firm to several core strengths including the longevity of the staff, old-fashioned values of honesty and hard work, and their focus on the firm’s core services. While he is concerned about the future of civil engineering in an ever-increasing over-regulated environment at times, he knows that Underwood & Rosenblum’s services are necessary and that his staff will “always find a way to get the job done”!

While he says, looking back, “I could have treated myself better and taken off some more time – maybe a sabbatical”, he states that we probably wouldn’t have done anything differently.  He has always been passionate about his work, this industry and the people that surround him. His message to younger staff is simple –

“Always be looking at the bigger picture and have a long-range view of your future. Be engaged in a profession that you are passionate about which is more than just money. And take the time to learn the skills that you will need to succeed.”

Frank Rosenblum