Terri Fairburn Borde
Way back when, Terri Fairburn Borde took a stab at earning an accounting degree at LSU. But she discovered soon enough that her education could not be realized in a classroom or lecture hall. She abandoned her studies in 1978 to join her parents in building the family business, Alvin Fairburn & Associates. She has never looked back. Now CEO and co-owner with her younger brother of the growing Denham Springs civil engineering, architectural, land surveying and development firm, Borde earned her chops and education on the job, at her father’s side.
At the green age of 22, she accompanied her father to meetings with important clients, and absorbed his values and vision. “He did everything above board; he always had an answer for people,” she says. “People came to him for engineering solutions. He’d say, ‘If you can dream it, I can build it.’ He had a vision of what could be for Livingston Parish.”
Although her father died of cancer three years ago, Borde aspires daily to make her father’s vision her own. “I get a joy from helping develop the land and seeing our once-small city grow to be such a great place to live,” she says.
She is particularly proud of her firm’s contribution to the new Bass Pro store in Denham Springs. Hired to provide the infrastructure—streets, driveways, parking lots, drainage and water?Borde’s design shop envisioned how the area around and leading to the store would look from the highway, and developed the maps that would ensure both ease of access to the site and appeal.
Her firm is the designated city engineers for Denham Springs and four other municipalities, so Borde can point to numerous projects in Livingston Parish and across the state with the Alvin Fairburn & Associates stamp?schools, municipal buildings, sewage treatment plants, water towers. “We provide everything from planning and design to supervising construction of any idea or project needed within those towns’ limits,” she explains.
The firm derives 60% of its income from its civil-engineering division, with architecture and land surveying providing the rest. Gross revenues exceed $6 million a year, and since 2005 the firm has grown from 45 to 75 employees. Borde just moved her firm into a new 1,400-square-foot building six months ago that her firm designed. “It’s our style; very functional. We’re real proud,” she says.
Borde admits she can be demanding running an operation this size. “I’m a workaholic, and I expect my people to follow suit,” she says. “I don’t care if it’s Mother’s Day. We don’t miss deadlines.” She’s hard on herself, rising at 4 a.m. to start e-mails and arriving at a job site around 5:30 a.m., before hitting the office. She expects a lot from her employees, but insists she is equally giving. “They know if they ever need anything, they can come to me and I’ll bend over backwards” to provide extra on-the-job support, or personal assistance.
Although Borde’s day is full of meetings, networking and inspections, she puts the most stock in her role as a community leader. Active with the First United Methodist Church of Denham Springs, she serves on countless boards, contributes to the American Heart Association, area churches and baseball teams, and gives scholarships to local graduating high school seniors. A special point of pride: in a nod to her father, Borde’s firm is the largest Livingston Parish contributor to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
“I am so grateful my dad chose this line of work,” she says. “It is what I will always do. I never see myself retiring. Fortunately you can do this kind of work from a wheelchair.”
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