F&V co-founder dies

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Steven R. VandenBrink Courtesy Fleis & VandenBrink

Fleis & VandenBrink announced the death of co-founder Steven R. VandenBrink at the age of 66. The Grand Rapids professional engineer started F&V with longtime friend and business partner Larry Fleis on Jan. 13, 1993.

“Steve and I had worked together for over four decades. He was a great partner and will be truly missed by our F&V family,” said Fleis, now chairman of the board of directors for F&V Companies Inc.

VandenBrink was senior vice president of F&V until the summer of 2015 when he suffered a major stroke. He died on July 23, 2021. Prior to his stroke, F&V grew to a staff of 200 people with nine offices in Michigan and Indiana.

His wife Therese worked with the firm until his stroke. She survives him along with two children.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with Therese and her family,” said Fleis, who also worked with VandenBrink at another Grand Rapids engineering firm before founding F&V.

VandenBrink graduated from Michigan Tech with a civil engineering degree. For decades, he built relationships with many clients and engineers, inside and outside F&V family. He was the engineer of record for a dozen municipalities through the years.

Paul R. Galdes, vice president of F&V and FVCI and the first engineer that Fleis and VandenBrink hired, said VandenBrink was known for his red pen and providing quality reviews of other staff’s designs.

“Steve had a huge impact on my career. I will always appreciate all I learned from him both from an engineering perspective as well as a business perspective,” Galdes said. “Steve had a tenacity for taking care of F&V clients.”

F&V is an employee-owned, multi-disciplined civil engineering and architecture firm with more than 250 employees. It is headquartered in Grand Rapids and has eight other offices throughout Michigan and Indiana.

F&V was named among the Best & Brightest Companies to Work for in the nation in 2020 and Best & Brightest Companies to Work for in West Michigan eight of the last nine years. F&V also was named a Zweig Group Hot Growth Firm — one of the 100 fastest-growing firms in the U.S. — for the last five years.

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