Dedicated, responsible, and resourceful, Associate Principal and IDNR Certified Operator Tom Grafft uses his keen eye for detail to manage numerous water and wastewater treatment facility projects. In his spare time, Tom  tackles home improvement projects with his wife and gives back to his community by serving as a volunteer firefighter.

Whether renovating his home, mentoring coworkers, or becoming deeply involved in his work, Tom seeks opportunities for improvement in himself and his projects, and constantly strives for more effective solutions. Let’s hear from Tom.

What steps have you taken to develop your career path?

Throughout college and following graduation, I worked at a small water treatment business that my grandparents owned. Listening to my grandfather’s interactions with vendors and customers taught me about water treatment, and more importantly customer service. After becoming more interested in construction, I started leading crews on water treatment plant projects. Since many of the operators had years of experience, they weren’t always open to a college kid’s suggestions on how to improve their operations. That’s what drove me to obtain my IDNR Operator Certification. That way, I had credibility.

What professional development advice has helped shape your work philosophy?

Some time ago there was a TED talk from Tony Fadell that caught my attention because it correlates to how ISG approaches projects. It’s called “The First Secret of Design is Noticing,” and during it, Fadell discusses how to overcome habituation in order to begin noticing the small nuances most people overlook, and finding points of improvement. It is not enough to be satisfied with providing cookie-cutter solutions; instead we should identify details that improve designs to deliver custom responses and meet individual needs.

What is one of the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Having the opportunity to mentor others. Whether it’s collaborating with someone from another department or a new water/wastewater operator, it’s a great feeling when you explain a concept and your audience begins to understand the topic. Teaching someone that knowledge builds their confidence, which complements the other tools people need to perform their job. Employees and clients alike benefit when they are empowered and able to take ownership of their work.

What ISG project are you particularly proud of working on?

There are many enjoyable projects, and I enjoy the challenge that comes with each. Even though it’s older, the Lawton Water Treatment Plant has been a favorite because of the high level of engagement it required. Back then, the water and wastewater team wasn’t as large as it is today, and I was very busy designing the ground-up project. My work included equipment selection, piping schematics, and even the “new” Octaform building. Additionally, the City requested certified operator services to manage the operation of the facility, as well as provide training to a new operator. From design to operation, you can’t get much more involved in a project than that!


Your design skills stretch beyond water and wastewater projects. Tell us about your HGTV-esque talents.

In our spare time, my wife and I have remodeled several houses, including our current home. My home improvement skills come from my dad, whose 1880s house I helped remodel during high school. Much like the professionals on HGTV, Dana and I found the worst house in a great neighborhood and totally transformed it after completely gutting our home. I had never completed a full kitchen renovation before, so I was a bit nervous to tackle that, but it ended up being the centerpiece of our home.



Tom continues seeking improvements in ISG’s Storm Lake, Iowa office, bringing an innovative and determined perspective.

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