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Al Gebhard

Senior Vice President, Civil Engineer

Ready to tour the Grand Canyon
Enjoying a Twins game with colleagues
Visiting Israel with his wife

In 10th grade, Al Gebhard wrote a report on why he wanted to be a civil engineer. He had the idea firmly planted in his mind: he wanted to work outdoors. His inspiration was a photo of an engineer standing out in the sun—a roll of plans under his arm and a Camel cigarette in his mouth—looking over a road-grading project with lots of heavy construction equipment. Al thought the whole scene looked “really cool.”

Because it seemed civil engineers worked outside more than people in other engineering professions, Al chose that particular path. And from the moment he began his education at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology, engineering, for the most part, became his life.

In his 44 years with Barr, Al's experiences have ranged from installing the first monitoring wells at a contaminated site in Minnesota in 1969 to serving as Barr’s second president from 1985 to 2000. About the monitoring wells, Al says, “No one had done that before. We did it first.” There were other firsts as well. “We determined that municipal landfills leach more than just chlorides and specific conductance, that they leach solvents…we figured that out by monitoring large landfills in Anoka County in the 1970s.”

Over the years, with projects such as those, Al’s focus became environmental engineering. He has directed or participated in several hundred groundwater- and soil-contamination projects nationwide and has managed feasibility studies and remedial investigations for industrial clients, assessing human health and environmental impacts of activities such as wood preserving, oil refining, and chemical manufacturing.

As for what he does to relax, Al confesses that “work has been relaxing to me" and notes that "if you really enjoy what you’re doing, you shouldn’t have to do something else to relax.”