Business Beat

*Karen Lustgarten

When she was 13, Adolphine “Dodie” Keith remembers heading out on survey and mapping jobs with her father, William “Bill” Keith, and his crew, watching how the work was done for construction projects.

Mr. Keith began making a mark on South Florida in 1956 when he joined the Broward County Engineering Department as a surveyor.  Then in 1972 he started the engineering firm Keith & Schnars. It would become synonymous with Broward’s growth.

His firm helped plan Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and bought the land and developed the route for the Sawgrass Expressway. It was responsible for planning Parkland and the redevelopment of Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach and Boca Raton.  They surveyed 390 miles from Florida to Georgia and bought 4,000 parcels of land for a Florida Power & Light transmission line.

Bill Keith, founder of Keith & Associates

Bill Keith, founder of Keith & Associates

In 1998 Mr. Keith established Keith & Associates, his own Pompano Beach-based civil engineering, planning, surveying firm. Daughter Dodie grew up to became a professional surveyor and mapper working in that capacity for her father.

By the time Mr. Keith died in 2006, he had spent his life working towards the development and improvement of the south Florida community and giving back to it, helping improve the county’s infrastructure and way of life. Dodie Keith-Lazowick succeeded her father as company president and managing principal.

Under her leadership, KEITH, as the firm has been rebranded, has expanded to include civil engineering, surveying and mapping, subsurface utility engineering (SUE), urban and comprehensive planning, landscaping, permitting, construction management and construction engineering inspection.

“I work in the development field, so believe growth is good,” she said. “Dad always taught me respect for the community. I try to make projects better for both the residents and the city.”

The Fort Lauderdale airport, a key KEITH client since her father’s early days, is a case for   preservation. A huge African baobab tree was set to be cut down when a new airport runway was being planned.  Dodie proposed a slight redesign shift in the runway plans that preserved the historic tree.

Dodie helped draft the Pompano Beach 2020 business plan and Mayor Fisher’s stimulus task force. Her firm helped raise funds and advocated to pass the Pompano Beach bond referendum for capital improvement projects that will revitalize the city.

KEITH is at work on several major construction projects you are witnessing around Pompano Beach to revitalize the city.  Successful advocates for the permitting and approvals, staff has coordinated the site plan approval process through the city and provided civil engineering design, project management, permitting coordination, planning, surveying, construction management, infrastructure convergence and roadway improvements, assessments and recommendations.

The company is revitalizing Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Pompano Beach

The company is revitalizing Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Pompano Beach

Among the projects you may be noticing: the pedestrian-friendly Pompano Beach Blvd. streetscape, Old Pompano Area streetscape improvements as part of the Downtown Connectivity Plan, MLK Jr. Blvd. streetscape improvements, MLK Blvd., the Pier Parking Garage, John Knox Village and in-kind site design services to preserve the Sample-McDougald Historic House/Museum.

Coming up: work on the new Mullet Alley–turning an existing parking lot in the Old Pompano area into a lively plaza, awaiting the site plan design and development approval.

“I enjoy Pompano Beach, it has a different feel than other cities and we want our own distinct city identity in South Florida,” says Dodie. “Pompano Beach is a community-based and family-oriented place. Our parks and roadway projects, for example, help give our city its own identity as a community.”

As a business community leader, Bill Keith was committed to causes he cared about such as the Broward Urban River Trails and homelessness.  He was founding chair of Broward Partnership for the Homeless helping people stabilize their lives. Dodie is the 2018 board chair and a fundraiser.

Dodie with her son Alex and daughter Elizabeth manage KEITH

Dodie with her son Alex and daughter Elizabeth manage KEITH

Dodie’s son Alex and daughter Elizabeth work as third generation professionals at KEITH. Alex Lazowick, a civil engineer, is executive vice president and Elizabeth, with a marketing degree, is corporate manager overseeing more than 100 employees in five state offices. They are committed to the company values established by their grandfather and mother. With young children of his own (4th generation?), Alex sits on the board of the Parks Foundation of Broward County, raising funds for Broward County parks.

 The business transition plan has the 3rd generation taking over KEITH with Alex stepping into his mother’s role as president, “so hopefully I can sit on Pompano Beach watching the sunrise,” said Dodie.

In the big picture at the top: a rendering of the new Mullet Alley

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author.