You could say engineering runs in James A. Soltesz’s blood.
His father was an industrial engineer in the steel industry. A brother is a mechanical engineer. Two of his sons are pursuing that field.
“I played with trucks when I was 5 years old. From the time I could remember, I wanted to be a civil engineer,” said Soltesz, 59, president and CEO of Rockville engineering firm Soltesz Inc.
While making a mark in the field with an array of honors, Soltesz has been involved with many business and community organizations, from the Silver Spring-based Maryland-National Capital Area Building Industry Association to the University of Maryland Real Estate Advisory Board.
He is one of five leaders who will be inducted Oct. 29 in the second class of the Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame.
Others who will be honored during a luncheon at The Universities of Shady Grove are Sol Graham, CEO of Quality Biological; John S. Hendricks, executive chairman of Discovery Communications; Carmen Ortiz Larsen, CEO of Aquas Inc.; and Ray Schoenke, founder and former CEO of Schoenke & Associates.
Soltesz and other honorees represent the epitome of the top quality of business leaders in the county, said Lawrence N. Rosenblum, chair of the Hall of Fame committee and a partner with accounting and consulting firm Grossberg Co. LLP. His company and Monument Bank co-founded the program, which raises money for student scholarships.
“Jim is well known for building a substantial Montgomery County-based company, as well as serving in various leadership roles on boards and commissions,” Rosenblum said. “He and his company also support a wide variety of local charitable organizations.”
In his work, Soltesz has been involved in high-profile projects like FedEx Field, National Harbor and King Farm. He bought the firm from the late founder Mario Loiederman in 2000 when it was Loiederman Soltesz Associates, after joining the company in 1990.
Growing up in Ohio, Soltesz earned a civil engineering degree at Purdue University, an MBA at the University of Cincinnati and a master’s in civil engineering from Georgia Tech.
His first job out of college was in Florida designing and building resorts, golf courses and condo complexes. “One of the first projects I worked on was a polo stadium in Palm Beach,” Soltesz said. “It’s still standing 35 years later, which is great to see.”
He came to the Washington, D.C., area and worked for the government for a year, then worked for a client of Loiederman’s. He joined Loiederman’s firm, first running the Prince George’s County operations before moving over to Montgomery.
He enjoys getting into the problem-solving and even the politics of development engineering, such as managing the environmental process of seeing a project grow from a field to concrete. Green building is important to him; some of his 150-employee firm’s awards have been for environmental design.
The Main Street mixed-use concept employed in King Farm has become popular, Soltesz noted. “A lot of people have embraced the idea of being able to walk to places where they can eat, shop, be entertained and even work,” he said.