Culp & Tanner’s freedom work

Leader cites American values as basis for giving

“We are stewards of Chico,” says Rory Rottschalk, vice president of Culp & Tanner.

“We are stewards of Chico,” says Rory Rottschalk, vice president of Culp & Tanner.

Photo By Kyle delmar

When you walk into Culp & Tanner’s office in Philadelphia Square, the first thing you see is a large, colorful mural titled “Freedom Fighters” that celebrates this country’s freedoms and the effort to preserve them.

The company, a Chico-based structural engineering firm, operates throughout the country, but it gives back in Chico.

“We are stewards of Chico, and if you don’t have stewardship you don’t have freedom,” explained Rory Rottschalk, 56, the principal who leads the group of 24 employees.

Culp & Tanner’s business is designing the infrastructure of large concrete and steel structures such as high-rises, parking structures like the one in downtown Chico, and casinos, such as Harrah’s in Las Vegas and Circus Circus in Reno.

All 24 members of the staff volunteer their time and money to various causes as part of their goal to give back to their community.

Rottschalk and his co-workers make a habit of quietly helping myriad local agencies and causes, from low-income or troubled youth and families to the Chico Police Department. Some do so by serving as mentors or Scoutmasters, and others volunteer through their churches.

Rottschalk coordinates charitable support for groups like the Boys and Girls Clubs of the North Valley and the Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services, which often reunites troubled families. Cathy Grams, director of the department, explained that C&T redesigned the outdoor play area at the Chico branch and the family visitation rooms at the Oroville branch, to make them more friendly and comfortable. They also organized help from a local photographer to give free family portraits to reunited families as a memento of their strength and stability.

Rottschalk’s philosophy of charitable service is based on what he sees as the foundational values of this country.

“The idea of America is, we take care of each other,” Rottschalk said. “We need to take back our responsibilities and not shift them to government institutions.”

Three years ago C&T adopted Rosedale school and galvanized 21 volunteers to help build the confidence of students with learning-objective needs. He also helped make a long-standing wish come true for the Chico Police Department when he organized the retrofitting of a specialized training facility there.

A major recipient of Rottschalk’s help is Alexa Valavanis, CEO for the North Valley Community Foundation. It was she who nominated him and C&T as a “business with heart.”

“Rory’s work is often done quietly and behind the scenes,” Valavanis said. “He’s an incredible but very humble human being.”