Photo of Larry J. Fleis
Larry J. Fleis, PE is the recipient of the 2019 Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award.

BS 1973, Civil Engineering

Larry Fleis cofounded Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) Engineering, Inc. in 1993, together with Steve VandenBrink and their wives. He served as president of the firm until 2017. Under his leadership, the company has grown from a single Grand Rapids engineering firm to include construction management through F&V Construction (FVC) and operations of water and wastewater treatment facilities through F&V Operations and Resources Management (FVOP). It has more than 225 employees and nine offices in Michigan and Indiana. Today, he serves as president and chairman of the board of directors of the parent company, F&V Companies, Inc., and president of FVC and FVOP.

He grew up in the small community of Cedar, MI together with 11 siblings, and worked for his dad at the Cedar Hardware Store from 1964-71. He came to MSU after earning an associates degree from Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. He was able to pay his way through college and graduate debt free by playing accordion in his own polka band on weekends. His musical talents were noted in 2010 when he was inducted into the Michigan State Music Hall of Fame for Polka and Ethnic Music.

While at MSU, Fleis served two summer internships with Williams and Works, and was hired as a civil engineer for the company after graduating with honors from MSU in 1973. Following 20 years with the company, he left to start F&V in 1993.

F&V has been recognized with numerous design excellence awards including several first-place awards for both engineering and surveying from the Michigan American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). It was named “Firm of the Year” by ACEC twice in the past decade.

Fleis has been an active member of ACEC through the years. He served four years as a director and chairman of its Rural Development taskforce, and is currently chair of the Qualifications Based Selection Coalition. He has served as both a member and chairman of the MSU CEE Engineering Advisory Board.

He and his siblings established the Ed & Irene Fleis Education Fund in honor of their parents. The endowment has raised over $1 million and given out more than $300,000 of scholarships since 2006.

He and his wife, Jackie, live in Ada, and savor their time at their Lake Leelanau cottage. They have three grown children, Ben, Chelsea, and Jodie, and seven grandchildren.