Kind. Generous. Honest. Supportive. Respectful. These are just a handful of adjectives that Jeff Harrington’s colleagues and peers use to describe him as a leader, as an engineer and as a person. After 34 years of guiding Harrington Group, Inc. as founder, president and CEO, Jeff has rolled up his drawings, shut down his desktop, and entered the retirement phase of his career. 

Jeff’s career began in 1977 when he graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with an emphasis on  fire protection engineering. He started out doing property loss control engineering, and nine years and three firms later he ventured out on his own to create Harrington Group, Inc. Since then, Jeff has worked tirelessly to develop lasting relationships with clients and maintain a work environment that drives loyalty and cooperation among his employees. His dedication is also evident through his long-time involvement with the NFPA and the SFPE Foundation, plus countless hours spent delivering guest lectures in classrooms and presentations at conferences.

We at HGI are proud to have the trust of our clients and colleagues, and the company’s well-established reputation as one of the best in the industry built on  Jeff’s core values of honesty, integrity, service and competence. For senior fire protection engineer Angie Fuqua, those values are what drew her to the company six years ago, shortly after meeting Jeff at an NFPA conference.

“For me, coming to HGI was the opportunity of a lifetime,” says Angie. “When I came home from my interview I told my husband I had found my herd. I had found a place where people take pride in their work, want to do a quality job and not just get the deliverable out the door.” 

She goes on to note that Jeff never compromised his integrity to achieve success, and instilled in his employees an understanding of client intimacy. 

“He taught me first and foremost the importance of delivering value to our clients in a way that they define value,” Angie says. “Jeff encourages us to get to know the clients well, and make sure we deliver what’s valuable to them. Our goal is to make the jobs of the people we interact with easier.”

In addition to providing unparalleled knowledge and service in fire protection, Jeff also took the time to invest in his employees, and helped those around him draw on their strengths without tripping over their weaknesses. He’s known for leading by example with the mentality of “the buck stops here,” and he was always willing to put in the hours, the miles and whatever else it took to deliver on a promise to a client. 

Marc Musikoff, an account consultant who worked with Jeff for many years, echoed the sentiments of many in his congratulatory note to Jeff:  “I have come to deeply respect you for your unrivaled expertise,” he wrote. “Your opinions and conclusions are often unchallenged because everyone in the room just knows you have done your homework and you are right.”

When reminiscing on their years working with or for him, a common thread emerged among those who know Jeff — he makes an impression. His calm demeanor has a way of putting people at ease, and he effortlessly conveys both his expertise and his humanity upon first meeting someone.

“I didn’t know anything about fire protection, but after our three-hour interview, I knew I wanted to work for him,” says project coordinator Diane Stone, who’s been with the company for 14 years. “He is just the most unique person, so passionate, so knowledgeable, and he was always putting the employees first and making sure we felt appreciated.”

For fire protection engineer and project manager Ben Randle, that first impression was delayed, but every bit as impactful. When Ben joined the team about four years ago, he kept hearing wonderful things about the president and CEO, but weeks into the job, their paths still hadn’t crossed. He joked that he had started to wonder whether Jeff truly existed, until they were finally able to connect over lunch.

“Jeff was gracious, interested in learning about me, and welcomed me to HGI with open arms. Turns out that it was not that Jeff did not care about his employees,” Ben wrote in Jeff’s memory book. “He was just busy trying to lay the groundwork for the future of Harrington Group so that all his employees would still have a home after he retired.”

And his work on that front is paying off. The company has grown to almost 50 employees, nearly doubling in the last 18 months, and Jeff has intentionally and meticulously put new positions and processes in place to ensure a smooth transition as the company enters the next phase. One of our newest fire protection consultants, Erik Hahne, joined the team about three months after Jeff officially stepped down as president and CEO. And even without the opportunity to work under Jeff, Erik enthusiastically describes HGI as the company to be a part of if you want exposure to all aspects of fire protection.

That’s the legacy that Jeff built, and we’re honored to carry that legacy forward by growing our team, increasing our impact and continuing to embrace and uphold those core principles woven throughout Harrington Group.

Once it’s safe to gather in large groups again, we look forward to giving Jeff a proper send-off with a celebratory retirement reception.

Take a look at what others have shared with Jeff about his impact on their careers and their lives:

Although I have only spent a relatively short time at Harrington Group (and at this point I have spent more time working from home than in the office), I could tell right away that you built something really special here and should be immensely proud of that. Your career has been a model to follow and you have truly made HGI the great success that it is today. We will miss your presence, but your influence and training will remain.

-Margaret Tatum, Fire Protection Consultant, Harrington Group, Inc.    

Thank you for being approachable and transparent, for living what you teach, for sharing your genuine self personally as well as professionally in such a generous and humble way that puts everyone around you at ease and lets them know that you value them. I hope to live this way too, even if it takes me the rest of my career to get there!

-Jesse Piotrowicz, PE, Senior Property Loss Control Engineer, Harrington Group, Inc.

We have had, and continue to have, the privilege of working for a company that values its employees and its customers. You have patiently and meticulously done an incredible job of building and growing HGI and teaching all of us the concept of client intimacy. You have shown us how this works in your dealings with our clients.

-Les Ingles, PE, Senior Fire Protection Engineer and Manager, Harrington Group, Inc. 

While I have not been here as long as others, and do not have any photos to submit from company functions, I will always remember your kindness, generosity, sense of humor and your story of how Harrington Group came to be.  

-Jocelyn Harris, Project Coordinator, Harrington Group, Inc.

I will always cherish the times we got to spend together during my visits to Duluth, the evening dinners where we discussed our families, our upbringings that instilled our values and what led us to the fire protection engineering profession. The challenge for us all is to continue and grow what you have started at Harrington Group, and rise to the challenge we shall!

-Jeffrey McKendree, PE, Senior Fire Protection Engineer, Harrington Group, Inc.

I would like to extend a special thanks for all you’ve done for the profession and WPI. Your support of WPI’s FPE program through your financial commitments, the sharing of your knowledge and experience as a guest lecturer and your recruitment of students are all so very much needed and appreciated. As a WPI alum, your success as an entrepreneur and leader in the field serves as a shining example to our students.

-Milosh Puchovsky, PE, Associate Department Head and Principal Industry Liaison, Department of Fire Protection Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

Abounding thanks, Jeff, for your many years of support to the fire protection engineering community in general and to the WPI FPE program in particular. Your support, encouragement and guidance have been responsible for numerous successful careers and for continued camaraderie among us old timers finishing our careers.

-Bob Zalosh, Professor Emeritus, Fire Protection Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute