Finn with an MIT Public Works tour guide.
"Go team! Win for Finn!"
Another chance behind the wheel of a dump truck, with MIT Public Works!
Finn loves his vest so much, it's still hanging on his bedpost.
For context, this is how much Finn loves dump trucks.

Win for Finn

Blogger: Brent Kinkade, Washington Area Marketing Lead | Seattle, WA, USA
March 06, 2015

Maybe you wrinkle up your nose when I say the word “garbage.” But not Finn.

As a dad, it’s really cool to see the world through my son’s eyes. For Finn, there’s nothing more amazing than garbage trucks…he’s been watching them in awe since he was old enough to stand at the window and watch them drive by on Monday mornings. Finn is four now.

He’s told his mom and me for years that he wants to be a garbage truck driver when he grows up. Our nephews’ dreams have shifted from police officer to fireman to photographer. But not Finn. Finn loves garbage, and Finn wants to be a garbage man.

This is how much Finn loves garbage trucks.

Since I work mainly inside the office at HDR, Finn doesn’t usually get as fired up about my job. He thinks I build bridges, which I do in a team building way…and every once in a while, when I work on a winning bridge project proposal. But, area marketing lead doesn’t have the same ring as garbage man for a four-year-old.

Over the past year, our team got to know the Public Works team from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe (MIT). We’ve worked together before on some fisheries and transportation work for MIT, but this time, we were talking about their goals for revamping their solid waste plan. So I couldn’t help but share some of Finn’s enthusiasm with the team. His sense of wonder always reminds me to take a step back, and take notice.

I was out the day our team was preparing to interview for MIT’s project, so I left them a little encouragement…a photo of Finn beaming while sitting in a garbage truck, along with the words, “Go team! Win for Finn!”

"Go team! Win for Finn!"

The next day, MIT’s team came to our office to hear our take on bringing their project to life. We had some great discussions around the design of their site…what the program could be, how to build in safety, preserving the site’s environment.

At the end, we fielded a question we hadn’t anticipated from MIT. “So, who’s Finn? What’s the sign about?” The sign I’d created was still on the wall. Mary Shanks, our project manager, filled them in on Finn and his lifelong dream to be a garbage truck driver.

What was the coolest thing MIT could’ve done? Yep. Invite Finn to the site to sit behind the wheel of one of their garbage trucks and get his hands on some of the levers that help process waste.

Fin behind the wheel of an MIT Public Works dump truck.

They also made another solid decision after a few days, which was to award us the project.

A couple of weeks later my wife brought Finn to the MIT public works yard. He had the time of his life. The vest he got still hangs on his bed post. And I’m working on getting some Finn-sized HDR hard hats.

To me, you can’t beat the moments where it all comes together and work blends with life. After all, experiences like this are creating the design of our minds and those of the ones we love, right?

Images courtesy of Brent Kinkade

Reader Comments (30)

Thanks for sharing this story Brent. There is nothing like connecting the work we do with our families and communities. This brings it home in a very special way. And "Love" the fact that you and the team did win it for Finn and the rest of us, in more ways than we can most likely even know!

This is such an inspiring story in so many ways.  Nice job Mary Shanks, Olivia Williams, Brent and Finn.

Just.Awesome.  :)

I love this story! Thank you for sharing, Brent. And for reminding us all to take a step back to see the bigger picture and where HDR's work intersects with our everyday lives.

Love this! Thanks for sharing Brent.

What a heart-warming story Brent, thank you for sharing.  Way to go Finn!

Love this story! Thanks for sharing!!

I love looking at things through the eyes of a little boy! Makes us take a step back for sure. Thanks for sharing Finn with HDR and with MIT!

 Cool Story. Great kid! Kudos to the MIT and the winning HDR team.


What a fabulous story Brent!  It's both inspiring and entertaining.  Congratulations on the win and thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication to the pursuit and to HDR!  It is passionate people like you who make a difference.

Great story and pics!  Loved it.


great story! thanks for sharing!

This put the biggest smile on my face. I’m not very familiar with our solid waste work, but stories like this make me want to learn more! Congrats to you and your team on the win.

Thank you for sharing your story, Brent! It is not only great to hear stories of HDR's success, but it almost puts a bigger smile on my face to see Finn so happy about something as simple garbage and cool trucks :) This is a good reminder to step back and take notice, as you put it. Thank you again and congrats on the win!

Thanks for sharing that great story, Brent. I have always thought that really "work" and "life" are not separate but that work is an integral part of life. So take a vacation to the southwest and bring our best marketer with you!

Simply Awesome!!!!!....Thx for sharing

Great Story!  Thank you for sharing!

I love this story! Way to go, Finn and Brent. Thanks for sharing.

What a cool story, Brent! Finn is a pretty insightful lil' guy.

Woohoo Finn! He's a winner! Thanks Brent. Made my day.

Brent, what a great story, I too have the experience of having a project connect in a special way with my son.  My son Ian is 15 and wants to study Computer Science and develop software for gaming and virtual reality.  We recently won the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation at the University of Maryland for which I am the Project Manager.  This facility will support one of the top Computer Science programs in the country and will be instrumental in the further development and applications of Virtual Reality.   Ian has moved Maryland to the top of his wish list for colleges and loves the idea of taking classes and doing research in one of his dad's buildings.   Thanks for sharing your story about your son Finn and best to you both.

Very cool Brent. What a great opportunity for Finn and kudos to MIT for making it happen.

What a sweet, heart-warming story. Finn's beaming face says it all!!! Thank you for sharing.

What a great story! A win-win situation for all! And a day Finn will never forget.

Neat, neat story Brent.

This is 100% Awesomeness.  While the HDR win is always great to hear about, I was much more moved by the image of a dad fully supporting the dreams of his child... and a client who made the intangible, tangible.  Great story.


So great!!!

This is a GREAT story!  I wish Finn could have been in Austin for the Trash Dance I was fortunate enough to attend this event and was overtaken with the beauty and excellence in collecting trash, an essential service that supports the foundation of our society.  Children are amazing at recognizing the obvious that overtime adults can no longer see.  Finn is an inspiration for us to not overlook the the every day and instead wonder in its greatness.  Thanks for sharing.

You guys are GREAT! How fantastic for the Finnster. Love you all!

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