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Doug Blegen: Then & Now

Doug Blegen: The Early Days at ms Columbus

Krystal Paisley

August 3, 2017

Doug Blegen is celebrating his 40th anniversary with ms this year. Doug was one of the first employees in the Columbus office. Today, he is a Senior Highway Lighting and Traffic Engineer. Here’s a look back at some of the stories from the early days at ms Columbus.


  • I received my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in June 1976 from The Ohio State University. I finally found an opening for a traffic engineer in Columbus in April 1977. I was thrilled with the starting rate of $4.50 per hour. At last, made it to the big leagues! Just shy of $9,500 a year!
  • I was told by my new boss, Jim Bixby, to wear jeans on the first day of work. No, not casual Friday, that wasn’t even a thing back then. Jim was renting a U-Haul, and we were moving the office from High Street to Indianola Avenue…which we did…all four of us!
  • Dress shirt with a tie was expected every day. The only exception was if the drafter or I was inking that day. We were allowed to temporarily remove the tie so we wouldn’t get ink on it.
  • ms had a “donut policy” even then, something that has been passed on over the years. Employees bring in donuts to celebrate life events, like birthdays and anniversaries. One difference…a half-dozen donuts fed the entire staff, and since Jim Bixby didn’t eat sweets, everyone got two!
  • My least favorite day at work was running prints on the old leaky ammonia blueprint machine for the entire day. I know, most of you can’t relate to this one!
  • Office policy provided lead for pencils, tape for dispenser (but not the dispenser), staples (but not the stapler). After sitting at a drafting table for more than five years, I finally got Jeff Cumming’s desk when Jim got a new one and gave his to Jeff. I knew I had really arrived then. Although, I did have to provide my own filing cabinet.
  • Ahhh…the company holiday dinner…even had those back then. But there was one major difference, compared to today. For years, all Columbus employees with spouses along with Thomas F. Mosure, Thomas Syrakis, and their wives could fit around one table. Today, ms Columbus packs the Franklin Park Conservatory for the annual holiday dinner.


It’s been amazing to watch the Columbus office grow from four traffic guys (plus Jim’s wife, Linda, the part-time secretary) working in a small, rented office with a leaky roof to what it is today with over 150 employees.


Although ms has grown over the years, I still enjoy the feel of a family-run business rather than the larger ‘you’re just a number’ corporation.


I guess time goes fast when you’re having a good time (at least most of the time) and working with good people.