2007 Distinguished achievement award: Michael Davy

// Civil & Environmental Engineering

Tags: alumni, CEE E-Day, Engineers' Day, Michael Davy

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Michael F. Davy
President, Davy Engineering Company
Manager, Davy Laboratories
BSCEE ’69
La Crosse, Wisconsin

At age 10, Michael Davy earned one silver dollar an hour when he began assisting with field surveys for his family’s consulting and engineering company, Davy Engineering Co. By the time he started courses at UW-Madison, his hourly rate had increased as he drafted engineering plans and led survey crews.

Four generations of the Davy family studied in the UW-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to prepare for work with the family company. Davy’s grandfather, Frank, started the company in 1929. Ten years later, Frank’s son, Philip (Davy’s father), joined the company. Davy’s son, Mark, 36, currently is the company vice president.

A division of the firm, Davy Laboratories, began providing water and wastewater analysis in 1976. Its chemists and biologists currently provide services for more than 80 municipalities in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. The firm’s philosophy dictates direct project involvement by the principals, leading them to a conscious decision to avoid branch offices, limit the geographic area where services are offered, and limit services to areas where the principals have demonstrated expertise, says Davy. For him, it means that he continues to work as a project engineer while also serving as the company president since 1988.

During his professional career, Davy has been involved in more than $450 million in construction projects. He also is active in professional and technical societies, including the National Society of Professional Engineers, as well as the Wisconsin chapter.

Davy spends leisure time each summer on his 45-foot houseboat After You, which is docked a half-mile from his office and 2 miles from his home. He and his wife of 39 years, Joyce, motor to various islands along the Mississippi River for quiet camping weekends.

For the last 10 years, Davy and his wife have spent part of the winter on the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii. Davy logs into his computer each morning, then hits the waves for swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling.

In addition to their son, Davy and his wife have two daughters. Katherine, 33, is a physical therapist in Grey’s Lake, Illinois. Jennifer, 30, works as a registered nurse in Minneapolis. The couple also has three granddaughters and two grandsons.

Davy’s one career regret? Not hanging on to those silver dollars his grandfather initially paid him when he began work at age 10.