Larry Smith Sr. paved the way for his son, Larry Smith Jr., to empower the next generation
Born and raised in Gainesville, Lawrence “Larry” Smith Jr. (BSCE, ’85) knew that he would one day be a Gator just like his father, Lawrence “Larry” Smith Sr. (BSCE, ‘55, MSCE, ‘66).
“My Dad was definitely one of the most influential people in my life. From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be like him,” Smith said. “I can remember my dad talking about asphalt, concrete, aggregate, bridges and roadways my entire life. I guess I was going to be a civil engineer from the day I was born.”
Smith’s experience as an undergraduate was filled with a mixture of hard work and fun. He spent most of his time in the libraries or at sporting events. He frequented Library West and Smathers Library, then called Library East, and made time to watch the Gators play football, basketball and gymnastics. He was part of the American Society of Civil Engineer’s (ASCE) Student Chapter, where he participated in the annual Concrete Canoe competition, and in his senior year, was named the second vice president. In between studying and extracurriculars, his most notable experience is when he met his wife, Maggie, during summer break, and now they are embarking on celebrating 38 years of marriage later this year.
Smith was aware that real-world experience in his career would add to his lifelong learning in civil engineering. There was a long road prior to Smith becoming CEO of DRMP in 2022. After graduating, Smith was a project manager at HNTB for two years, where he learned about plan production and roadway design in the highway department. Then, he joined DRMP and hasn’t looked back.
“I started as an entry-level engineering intern in the Drainage Department. I had some great mentors that I was fortunate to work with, and they helped me advance my career,” Smith said. “I never imagined that I would be the CEO one day.”
His three-decade tenure at DRMP allowed him to advance within the company. After spending five years in DRMP’s Drainage Department, he transferred to the Land Develop Department as a project manager and later was promoted to department manager. In 1999, he was named vice president and joined the Board of Directors. He was named chief operating officer in 2013 and took the role of CEO in 2019. He is also president and CEO of Trilon Transportation Platform, which is one of four platforms within the Trilon family. Trilon is bringing together some of the best infrastructure consulting firms throughout North America.
Although his father’s path from being the first college graduate in his family and working in the public sector differed from Smith’s path in private industry, his father instilled the importance of giving back and being involved.
“My father served on the Civil and Coastal (now ESSIE) Advisory Board for decades. Because he lived in Gainesville, he made himself available to both staff and students. He was always an active member in both the Florida Engineering Society and the ASCE where he held many positions and served on several committees,” Smith said. “He was also awarded the Bryon Spangler Distinguished Service Award and was the first inductee into the Department of Civil & Coastal Engineering’s Hall of Fame.”
Honoring a Legacy by Empowering the Next Generation
Smith wanted to honor his father’s legacy after his passing in 2021.
“In recognition of my father’s accomplishments and both of my parents’ dedication to the University of Florida, our family has established as endowment known as the ‘Larry and Ann Smith Fund’,” Smith said.
Established in 2022, the fund was created to honor his parents’ contributions to UF, especially to the Department of Civil & Coastal Engineering. The fund will support an Undergraduate Teaching Scholar who will work in assisting an instructor in the classroom and laboratories within Civil Engineering.
Smith’s advice for current students and recent graduates is to be prepared to learn and to forge their own paths.
“My father’s legacy is a tough one to follow. However, the values that he instilled in me have helped me to be dedicated and committed to not only my profession but to my family,” Smith said. “Before you follow a parent’s footsteps in a particular field, make sure it’s really what you want to do. I was lucky — I cannot imagine doing anything else.”
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