The firm added staff members slowly in the early years, as John wanted to be sure he had enough work for everyone. Through a few mergers, splits, and several name changes, the firm of 22 employees became Olsson Associates in November of 1973.
Despite having a degree in mechanical engineering, John became a registered civil engineer and gained much early work through municipalities. As the municipalities grew, so did the firm. As time progressed, his key projects included designing diesel power plants, working for the City of Lincoln, performing water and sewage work for small communities, studying fallout shelters for the Army Corps of Engineers, and designing a total energy plant for St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
John led the firm until 1976 when Carl Bodensteiner took over as president.
In addition to his 50-year involvement in the American Water Works Association, John has also been involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ACEC of Nebraska (a past president), the National Council of Engineering Examiners, and the Nebraska Examining Board for Engineers and Architects. John has long believed in being involved in one's profession and one's community--a value that still remains in Olsson Associates' culture today.
John also believes in supporting education. For him, this support included his involvement on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Engineering and Technology Advisory Council. In 1996, John received the college's Outstanding Alumnus Award. In 2002, a room was named for the Olsson family in Othmer Hall.
JOHN WITH HIS SON ON GRADUATION DAY
Since retiring in the early 1990s, John and his wife Nancy have enjoyed traveling, including a tour around the world. He also enjoys being grandpa to his many grandchildren.
In 2006, John was recognized at Olsson's 50 year celebration in Kansas City, surrounded by family, friends, old colleagues, and hundreds of current employees.
John and Nancy Olsson in 2006