Living in United States to attend college was supposed to be temporary for Iranian born Sina Nejad. And while relationships between the U.S. and Iran were strained, Nejad could not have imagined he would never be able to go home again. But politics and revolution intervened and in 1977, Nejad found himself stranded in the United States, specifically in Beaumont, Texas.
And here he stayed, building a business, raising a family and becoming part of the community.
“From a distance, Texans are hardened cowboys, but when you get to live here you get to see their kindness,” he said. “ I have never met more polite and gentle people than in Texas.”
Nejad has a master’s degree in engineering from Lamar University. He worked for 20 years in the construction industry before setting out on his own. He began Sigma Engineering with a partner and $1,500 in 1993. The firm has grown steadily since then and has never had to borrow money to operate, according to Nejad, now the sole owner.
“We are a full service engineering and architectural firm. We have business in Southeast Texas, South Texas, the Houston area and now I am traveling to Alberta, Canada, to work on projects up there,” said Nejad. “Our clients cover a wide range of businesses, churches and industrial concerns.”
Sigma Engineering employs 15 people, several who have been with the firm for a long time, some for more than a decade.
“That sort of tenure is unique in this business,” said Nejad. “When a large engineering firm gets a big project, they often hire staff away from other firms. Then when that project is over, the new hires are laid off. We have never laid anyone off of our staff. We hire talented people and treat them well. They are well educated, hard working and loyal.”
The staff includes two architects, two licensed engineers, one graduate engineer, an interior designer and a full support staff.
“We provide our clients with service from the first meeting to the last detail,” explained Nejad. “We approach any project from a unique position. Besides the architectural and engineering expertise, we have construction experience that we bring to the table. Whatever we design, there is someone on the team that has built it. Our concepts are well thought out before we put anything on paper.”
Clients can count on Sigma to monitor all aspects of the building, including the initial bidding, the contracting process and payments.
“Our job is three-fold: We provide a good design, we protect the clients interests and we are very fair to the contractors,” Nejad explained. “We have a good rapport with all the contractors we work with. I don’t want any job to be the last job I do with a contractor. We work very hard to be good team builders.”
In a town the size of Beaumont, reputation is key to success, and Sina Nejad is understandably proud of his stellar reputation.
“Our firm doesn’t have an advertising budget,” said Nejad. “Our best advertisers are our clients. We do a good job, and that reputation stays with you longer than any brochure. Our clients know we are focused on them; the team stays until the work is done. We meet our deadlines and maintain the highest work ethics.”
He has continued his involvement with Lamar University, both professionally and as a member of the Foundation Board. His children graduated from Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School, and he served on the Catholic School Board, adding with a smile that he is the only Muslim to have done so. He has worked with the city’s planning and zoning board and will serve as the president of the local chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. He is one of only nine engineers that can practice architecture as well, which is a very high honor indeed.
“Beaumont is a wonderful place to call home. There are more people attached to charities and nonprofit organizations than I have seen anywhere else,” he said. “This involvement and commitment from businesses and the community makes Beaumont a better place to do business and succeed.”
At the end of the day, Nejad can point to his success in the bricks and mortar of the buildings he has designed. The list is long, and includes the Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Crockett Street Arch; the Reaud Hospitality House; and the redesign of the Beaumont Community Players Theatre to name a few. There should be many more in the future as the firm has a backlog of projects for the rest of the year.
“I put my name on everything that goes out of this office; I am not only putting my reputation on the line but my professional license as well,” said Nejad. “I hire the best people I can find, train them to exceptional in their profession and then trust them to do the job right.”