employees, families and friends participate in Duluth’s dragon boat race each summer

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Art Kalmes

Vice President, Senior Civil Engineer

Art and his son and daughter hiking in Sedona, Arizona
Art winter camping with his son in the Boundary Waters

Growing up on a dairy farm in southeastern Minnesota, Art Kalmes constantly built and fixed things. “If something broke, you didn’t have time for someone to come out and fix it,” he said. “You figured it out yourself. That, combined with my interest in math and physics, seemed like a natural fit for engineering.”

When Art was in high school, his father—who was passionate about conservation and environmentalism—took Art to a conference on water quality issues in Minnesota. “That experience further spurred my interest and helped me lean toward the civil and environmental side of engineering,” he said.

Years later, problem solving continues to excite Art. “I appreciate Barr’s motto of ‘solving clients’ problems as our own,’” he says. “Applying my engineering background to help our clients—whether it’s with an ineffective system, a permit they need, or a more cost-effective way of doing something—is why I enjoy coming to work.”

After 10 years with Barr, Art left in 1998 to co-found a small civil- and water-resources-engineering firm. When that company was acquired by a large international firm, he returned to Barr. “I came back because I like how Barr works,” Art said. “At some firms, the bottom line and profitability exceed the needs of the client. At Barr, there is more of a focus on solid technical solutions and development of long-term relationships with the clients that helps me be more effective as their engineer.”

Since his return, Art has played a big role in promoting the Barr name in Canada. In 2010, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan hired Barr to assist with its tailings basins. “We looked at alternatives and developed solutions that will help for years to come,” Art said. This project has led to other opportunities in Saskatchewan; Art now regularly travels to Canada to meet with clients and observe work sites firsthand.

Even in his free time, Art enjoys solving problems. He gutted and rebuilt his family’s home to double its size, and relaxes through woodworking and carpentry. “It seems that I always have a project,” he said. Art also enjoys exploring the U.S. with his wife and three kids via car, train, and plane, and he soaks up the outdoors as much as possible. He hikes, takes yearly fishing trips to Canada, and camps during all seasons—even when temperatures in Minnesota drop to 30 degrees below zero!