As his career thrived with Perkins+Will, where he enjoyed larger and more important projects into the mid-1960s, Hem Gupta also wanted to branch out and be an entrepreneur. Jack Train suggested he should go out on his own. Hem agreed, giving birth to ESD. He persuaded Perkins+Will colleague Bob Ladner to join him.
“We set up a little office (at 35 E. Wacker) where everyone smoked,” Ladner recalled. “We’d open the emergency fire door to get the smoke out. We were good engineers, especially with ventilation.”
Hem quickly became immersed in all details. Recalled Raj Gupta, Hem’s son and executive chairman of ESD, “My Dad did everything – the books, the work.” Hem’s general frugality meant smaller costs for the firm, which also meant ESD could offer lower project quotes than competitors.
Find out more about the early days at ESD by checking out our 50th anniversary e-book.