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October 29, 2015
Specialty: Civil and structural engineering
Management: Erik Davido, president; Matthew Schmitter, vice president structural; Quin Clements, vice president civil
Headquarters: Lake Forest Park
2014 revenues: $3.7 million
Projected 2015 revenues: $4.1 million
Projects: Lake Forest Park Lyon Creek flood mitigation; Seattle Public Utilities pump station evaluations; Merrill Gardens Burien, Ballard and Auburn; Seattle City Light and SPU Terminal 117 adjacent streets cleanup; National Park Service civil and environmental engineering
Erik Davido talked to the DJC about his company and what’s happening in the A&E industry.
Q: What are some industry trends you are noticing?
A: Our firm is seeing increased interest in sustainable building techniques from owners and developers as they see the specific measurable benefits, such as energy efficiency and lower construction costs. For example, progressive codes such as the city of Seattle’s stormwater code, require developers to use green stormwater infrastructure to the maximum extent feasible, which is generally less costly than underground detention vaults.
Energy efficient and low-VOC products are more readily available and are no longer significantly more expensive than other products, making sustainable building more cost competitive than it was in the past. With these benefits, sustainable building is becoming more mainstream and familiar to developers and the general public alike. We look forward to seeing this trend expand into the creation of vibrant, sustainable urban communities.
Q: Which sectors have been the busiest for you?
A: Over the last couple of years, DCG has experienced increased growth across several sectors as a result of the recovering housing market and economic upturn.
Senior living facilities have gained traction in communities across the Puget Sound region, with DCG providing civil design services for 100-plus-unit facilities in Seattle, Auburn and Burien within the last year.
Congregate residences and micro-housing (small efficiency dwelling units) have also seen a rise in popularity, offering affordable in-city living opportunities.
Steady growth continues in the townhouse/rowhouse market, with developers seeking parcels within urban areas that offer the ability to maximize the zoning density while maintaining the single-family appeal to prospective buyers.
Q: What are some challenges facing your firm and industry?
A: The number one challenge facing our firm over the next couple of years is finding and retaining employees. Finding bright, knowledgeable entry-level engineers is becoming more difficult as the number of civil/structural students has contracted over the years, yet demand is increasing with a return of the growth economy.
As the economy builds, it is even more difficult to hire experienced staff who are looking to leave their current employers. To retain our staff when other firms are looking to hire and provide incentives makes the employee pool very competitive. We have been fortunate in not experiencing much turnover, however as we grow, finding the right employees to fill positions will be a challenge.
Q: Does sustainability play a role in your firm?
A: We have staff with LEED certification and have participated in many LEED-certified projects, and we continually look for ways to incorporate sustainability into our projects.
Our designs incorporate environmental sustainability with the use of special features and materials, particularly in stormwater management. For example, we recently completed civil design for a bus maintenance and administrative facility that included grading and paving plans for light-vehicle parking featuring low-impact development BMPs including pervious pavement and rain gardens for stormwater treatment and infiltration, heavy-duty concrete for the transit coach parking and maintenance area that features stormwater collection and treatment.
Q: How has technology changed what you do?
A: The largest change is computer processing power. This change allows for both faster computations as well as an expansion in what can be modeled. The speed of current 3-D modeling versus a few years ago will be even further surpassed in the coming years. The challenge is keeping up with the technology both on the software and hardware sides, and then being able to efficiently use the results to produce the same sized sheets of paper that have been around for centuries. New technology still needs to fit on the sheet when all is said and done.
New drafting technology enables design team members as well as clients to visualize the design more clearly during the design process, which allows for more transparency with better tools available to identify potential errors and quickly collaborate to find solutions.