Many of us at Guida know Richard as a witty, amicable, hard worker who’s very good at what he does. He also dreaded doing this interview, but after a few questions, it became very clear that Richard was incredibly passionate about Guida and the work that he does here.

Richard has been an essential part of the Guida team for over 18 years, and he is well-known for his current role as a manager for Guida’s San Diego operations; but he also has a wealth of experience as a project manager and a land surveyor. Richard got his start in the surveying industry four decades ago—his brother was a surveyor, and from that connection, he started to survey during his summer breaks. Clearly, surveying runs in his blood, as his son, Brandon Allen, has taken up surveying at Guida as well.

Richard has been responsible for a long list of buildings, streets and highways throughout his career, and his expert work is present on many of the notable high-rises that dot San Diego’s skyline. From the more humble, award-winning Celedon high rise on 9th and Broadway to the towering 32 story behemoth, the Omni Hotel, Richard and his work with the Guida team has had a huge presence in downtown San Diego over the last 18 years. But as for his favorite type of project, Richard prefers the whimsical hustle and bustle of amusement parks. The prospect of getting a job done while a park remains open for business might be a huge bother for some people, but Richard doesn’t mind the extra challenge. “Amusement parks are always fun,” he remarked.

For Richard, his favorite project will always be the Shark Encounter exhibit at SeaWorld. He knew going into it that this would be a very complicated project: an exhibit featuring a 280,000-gallon shark tank with an underwater viewing tunnel in the middle of an amusement park. However, there was another problem—the plans were a mess and lacked crucial information. Richard was put in charge of straightening them out; and while he was adding gridlines to the plans, he saw a perfect SeaWorld-themed opportunity and named them after aquatic animals: “tuna,” “squid,” and “seal.” He got a laugh when the client called him up to ask about the dimensions of his favorite gridline, “jaws.” This experience was not only a great story, but being a part of the team that created the Sea World’s Shark Encounter exhibit is certainly something to be proud of. Today, the exhibit is breathtaking experience that’s really unlike anything else—after touring a massive shark themed aquarium, the experience ends at a 57-foot acrylic tube that passes through the main tank as dozens of sharks swim overhead.

In his spare time, Richard likes to fly model airplanes. But he doesn’t just fly them—Richard also designs and creates his own. He plans them out, constructs them out of foam board, wires up the electronics, hooks up motors and propellers, paints them, then flies them whenever he has the chance. He also has a sailboat he’d like to get out into the water eventually, when he’s got more free time.

As for his work at the San Diego office, Richard’s excited about the upcoming opportunity to work with the Guida team for two new clients that he’s got in the works. But what’s next for Richard? A man with half a lifetime of land surveying experience under his belt, and an “eventually”-to-be man of the sea, is Richard going to be taking to the air anytime soon? We talked a bit about Peter Stripol, a YouTube star who specializes in model planes. Last year, Peter built and flew his own ultralight aircraft and nearly ended up crashing after his landing gear failed. “Aren’t those things really unsafe?” he chuckled. “I think I’ll leave that to him.”

Thanks for all the work you do at Guida, and for taking the time to share your story with us Richard!