Evalynn (Eve) Williams
Dikita Enterprises Inc.
How many people do you employ?
About 55 people. We have offices in Fort Worth and in San Bruno, CA, in addition to the main office in Dallas.
How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
How long have you been an APTA member?
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
My firm is a family-owned business. My father and I are the principal owners. He drew me in because he needed an accountant and a business partner.
Dikita is a consulting firm that provides engineering, planning, and construction/program management. For the public transit market, the company provides rail program management and civil engineering design of light rail systems. For transportation—roads and highways—we provide civil engineering and construction inspection. The other markets and services we provide include program and construction management for building K-12 and higher education schools. We’re white-shirt guys: we provide oversight for contractors and usually represent the owner.
We have worked on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail system for the past 22 years, providing oversight or design services in some capacity for all 77 miles of DART’s ongoing light rail project (the longest light rail system in the U.S.). Our projects range from planning and design to inspection and oversight. Our services have included civil engineering design, systems integration and testing, estimating, change control, quality assurance, light rail car inspection during manufacturing and assembly, and even track power electrification.
In addition to its engineering practice, Dikita Enterprises has a second division called Dikita Management Services (DMS). DMS provides marketing research—data collection of ridership information—for the public transit industry. We provide these services all over the U.S.
Personally, supporting transit planners is what drew me into the public transit arena. I consider ourselves experts in collecting ridership statistics; I like to be innovative and it’s rewarding to formulate better strategies for obtaining rider and non-rider information.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource—that helps you do your job?
APTA is our first source of information: if something is going on in the public transit industry, APTA is where we can really track it down. I may read about projects or issues in industry publications, but as an APTA member I can actually meet the people quoted in those publications.
Probably the most important member benefit to me is the ability to network and the opportunity to meet with people in larger companies and agencies. Before joining APTA, I wasn’t as familiar with public transit agencies other than DART and Houston METRO. Being a part of APTA has helped me realize that there are global opportunities in this field.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
It’s helped me understand the different procurements that are surfacing. For instance, I never really paid attention to funding issues—how grantees get their money—and I didn’t know when and to whom to market my services. Understanding the issues surrounding public transit allows me to do long-term planning and pinpoint specific locations to market. I also feel comfortable with the knowledge I receive, which has helped me become a better advocate in pushing the public transit agenda.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy developing win-win strategies and developing innovative techniques. I also like working with larger companies and watching people’s reactions as we exceed their expectations. We’re a competent small firm and happen to be a minority-owned business. I also enjoy volunteering as a leader in my community or on APTA committees.
What is unique about your business that readers will be surprised to learn?
Even though we’re a small company, we invest tens of thousands of dollars in developing new technology to help us do our jobs better. With all the new technologies—iPads, social media, texting—we’re always experimenting with different ways to collect a higher quality of data, faster, better, and cheaper.
Another thing that readers probably won’t know is how visible we are in the Dallas area. The company’s name appears on the outside of our building, which people can see on their way to Love Field Airport. That’s a sign of stability—Dikita has been in business 33 years, in our building for 22 of those years.
We have a diversified workforce that includes engineers, planners, construction managers, construction inspectors, a market research team, supervisors, administrative staff, as well as architects, estimators, and quality inspection staff. While we do not have depth in specific disciplines, we do have the breadth to handle management opportunities.
Make sure you see Evalynn Williams' video, now that you've read this!