Engineering Ties That Bind

Best Friends since high school, Robert Walker and David Bowman have worked together at Neel-Schaffer since 1992

They shared a Cub Scout troop as 5th graders and a fraternity (Sigma Chi) in college, and now Robert Walker and David Bowman are both licensed Professional Engineers who work together for Neel-Schaffer, Inc., the largest engineering firm based in Mississippi.

On National Best Friends Day (June 8, 2021), Neel-Schaffer salutes a friendship that started four decades ago in Greenwood, MS, and is still going strong in Jackson, MS. Robert serves as the Executive Vice President for Neel-Schaffer’s Central Region and David, a Senior Vice President, serves as the firm’s Mississippi Business Development leader.

Their work overlaps at times, but they leave their friendship on the sidelines when it comes to making business decisions.

“We really work at it, not mixing the two together,” said David. “We can be in the office, and I will ask about his son and then we’ll talk about my daughter’s wedding, and then when we’ve got a work issue, we take a deep breath and say, ‘Let’s talk about this.’ We don’t mix the two.”

Said Robert: “We don’t let our friendship get in the middle of work.”

While they met in Cub Scouts and were trouble-causing, trombone-playing bandmates in the 8th grade, the friendship really blossomed in the summer following 8th grade, when David introduced Robert to the game of golf. They have played countless rounds of golf together since.

They were roommates during their last two years at Mississippi State University, both graduating in 1988 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil Engineering. David landed a job with the City of Jackson out of college and Robert went to work for a firm in Tallahassee, FL. In May 1991, Robert applied for an opening at Neel-Schaffer, and David put in a good word for him with Neel-Schaffer leaders, who brought him aboard and brought David’s golf partner back to Mississippi. In January of 1992, David joined Neel-Schaffer.

David says Robert is “dependable, always does what he says he will, and is always there when I need him.”

The two were in each other’s weddings, they are in the same tailgate group for Mississippi State football games, and David is Godfather to Robert’s son Raines.

David and Robert do not play much golf together these days, but the golf connection has come full circle: David helps mentor Raines, and last month, playing for St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison, MS, Raines won the 2021 Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A-2A state individual golf championship.

Robert is one proud father – and friend.

“It has truly been a unique experience to have been able to work with David for nearly 30 years,” said Robert. “Almost equally as unique is that we have both been with the same firm for 30 years. That’s not common these days and should tell you what it’s like to work for Neel-Schaffer.”