Upon entering the office of Tory R Walker Engineering, I was immediately greeted by a warm and friendly face, about 2 feet off the ground. Her name is Lucy, and she is the beloved dog of Cassie Sparks, office assistant to Founder Tory Walker. Lucy comes to work with Cassie most days and gets walks to the park around the corner. This is just one example of what Walker calls “servant leadership — valuing the people that you work with, so they feel valued, that they’re making a difference, and they actually want to come into work.”

“I’ve got a great team, and I get the privilege to influence how things are done,” said Walker. “It’s a culture of mutual respect. It doesn’t mean you’re soft. Work has to get done but placing expectations clearly so there’s no confusion would be an example [of servant leadership].”

Specializing in the engineering of watershed, floodplain, and stormwater management as well as riverbed restoration, Walker says that his company brings “confidence in design, planning, or proper identification of problems and solutions” to the communities they serve. “It helps everybody when you know that somebody is going to be developing in responsible ways that won’t cause damage to someone else.”

Walker is proud to lead his team of responsible engineers whom he says thrive on helping their clients through challenges. “I have the privilege of leading some incredibly gifted, motivated, and conscientious team members in my office. Every day presents new challenges, because we are specialized, and we are called upon to solve some complex problems.”

Choosing North San Diego County as his destination for home and business came down to a quality-of-life issue. He and his wife wanted a place to raise their children with space and a community around them.

“We just saw North County as a gem,” said Walker. In more urbanized areas “a lot of the creeks have been covered over, and the agricultural areas are replaced. North County has done a good job of balancing that – keeping a sense of the land, both in an agricultural and a natural sense. I think that’s really wholesome for families and communities.”

Walker’s current pet project aims to do just that, rehabilitate a stream channel for disadvantaged communities on Chollas Creek. Working with the non-profit Groundwork San Diego, they will remove a dilapidated concrete channel and restore it to what looks like a natural creek with a trail alongside it connecting communities together. Eventually, the trail will even connect these East County communities to San Diego proper.

“You don’t do [a project like this] lightly,” says Walker. “You’d better know what you’re doing if you’re going to take out concrete and put in rock, natural stone, and features of vegetation because water is powerful and can tear that out if you don’t know what you’re doing.” Luckily, Walker and his team are specialized in using natural materials to create functional ways for water to travel.

This is the kind of project that lights Walker up, helping communities take pride in where they live. “People take care of things that they might not otherwise. For me, that’s very rewarding,” he said.

Giving back to communities in this way, and helping people to connect, is one major way that Walker sees many of the issues in our society can be solved.

“The economics of a healthy society is one that functions together and many of the social ills are addressed by those who care,” he said. “I work with people who do care, and that’s something that I think is rewarding – to give back and to recognize that it’s not just about you.”

 

Get to know some of North County’s entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders, and learn why they believe this region is a world-class place to do business. If you would like your company featured in “Meet North County Stewards,” or if you’d like to nominate someone for an interview, click this link to submit your nomination!

 

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