Celebrating C.S. Davidson’s 100th anniversary – final installment

December 2023

We’re excited to bring you the final edition of a series of articles on C.S. Davidson’s distinguished 100-year history.

When we left off last time, David Davidson, Jr., PE, had just begun exploring opportunities for a possible ownership transition for the company.

David became company president in 1983. By the early 1990s, he was in his mid-40s and knew he would not stay in the role forever. At that point, the company was still wholly owned by the Davidson family, and David knew a change in ownership for a closely held corporation like C.S. Davidson could take years to complete.  

While evaluating options, he started to study the details of an employee stock ownership plan, commonly called an “ESOP.” ESOPs provide an employee benefit plan by allowing staff to earn an ownership interest in the company where they work.

Among other benefits, ESOP employees are not required to contribute money to a retirement plan. Instead, contributions come from the employer, and employees then build up vested ownership in the company, which is redeemed when they retire. An ESOP offers additional retirement income and investment security beyond employee retirement contributions. It also provides an incentive for employees to do their part to increase the value of the company.

In 2003, the company became 60 percent ESOP. Then, in 2020, C.S. Davidson became fully employee-owned.

Changing of the guard

It wasn’t just ownership change that David was considering. He knew the company would need leadership to maintain its “family feel” now that the Davidson family no longer owned it.

David decided it was time to begin stepping aside. In 2008, John Klinedinst, PE, became president and CEO. As John was previously second in command as vice president of C.S. Davidson, it was an obvious choice.

John, C.S. Davidson’s chief administrative officer, took a far more visible role in local community organizations than his predecessor. John was and still is involved in numerous regional nonprofits, serving on several boards of directors in the York area.

John was head of C.S. Davidson through several important company milestones. He kept the company stable through the 2008 global recession. He was also president when CSDatum, the company’s proprietary online software for managing public works assets, was launched.

In 2016, John handed the reins to Kerryn Fulton, PE, C.S. Davidson’s current CEO. Kerryn has made the company more purposeful and strategic in its operations, viewing all business decisions through the lens of its strategic plan. David said that helps ensure consistency in the company’s direction.

Kerryn began working at C.S. Davidson 2001 as a structural engineer before being promoted to projects administrator in 2009. After four years in that role, she became chief operating officer, the position she held when she became CEO.

Since then, C.S. Davidson has seen record profit years. Kerryn, C.S. Davidson’s first female CEO, completed the company’s transition to 100 percent employee ownership. And she guided the firm through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic – which affected almost every aspect of business operations – without skipping a beat.

The most prominent of projects

C.S. Davidson has worked on so many high-profile projects in the past 30 years it would take multiple blog posts to highlight them all. Possibly the most far-reaching is the 26-mile Heritage Rail Trail County Park.

The firm completed the design of the final section of the massive York County park in 2023 after beginning work on the project in 1990. The trail runs from the Pennsylvania-Maryland state boundary north to York City and continues to John C. Rudy County Park, and C.S. Davidson engineers have touched it every step of the way. 

According to the Heritage Rail Trail County Park 2022 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis, users made 263,856 annual visits to the park, contributing $3.5 to $4.4 million to the local economy.

While the company has worked on many other prominent projects, none touch so many parts of the region as the rail trail. 

Thank you for joining us on this journey through C.S. Davidson’s 100-year history. We are proud to learn from our past while ensuring the company will thrive in the future. The past 100 years have brought tremendous changes for our firm, and we have worked diligently to retain the core values of integrity and excellence upon which C.S. Davidson was founded.