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Architecture & Engineering

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October 29, 2015

Survey: ESM Consulting Engineers

Specialty: Civil engineering, planning and surveying for private sector clients and municipalities

Management: Eric LaBrie, president; Rick Foxworthy, senior vice president; Laura Bartenhagen, principal; Trevor Stiff, principal; Zack Lennon, principal

Founded: 1982

Headquarters: Federal Way

2014 revenues: $4.6 million

Projected 2015 revenues: $4.8 million

Projects: Whole Foods Market, University Place; Point Ruston waterfront community, Tacoma/Ruston; Suncadia master-planned community, Cle Elum, Kittitas County; Weyerhaeuser Campus ALTA survey, Federal Way

Photo courtesy of ESM Consulting Engineers [enlarge]
ESM provided civil engineering and land planning for the new Whole Foods store in University Place.

ESM Consulting Engineers President Eric LaBrie responded to questions about the firm’s projects and services, and maybe a warm, scenic site for a new office.

Q: What’s the most interesting project you’re working on?

A: We have quite a few interesting projects going on now, but the first one that comes to mind involves providing survey control for a 39-story mixed-use tower known as 2nd & Pike.

Being located in Seattle’s downtown core area, precisely locating all of the underground utilities on and adjacent to this very tight site is not an easy task. In addition to the topographic survey component, the project requires us to provide vertical control and alignment for each floor as the building goes up. We’re also continuously monitoring adjacent buildings for movement during the deep excavation for the building’s foundation.

Q: Which of your services is most in demand?

A: I don’t see any one service being more in demand than others. Our primary disciplines (civil engineering, surveying and planning) are so closely related that they tend to rely heavily on each other. No individual one is more important than another.

Q: What’s a concern you have about the current market?

A: My biggest concern with today’s market is the lack of developable land within the current Urban Growth Area. The majority of land available is highly constrained and continuously being squeezed with more stringent regulations, making it harder for builders and developers to provide housing that’s affordable for even dual-income households. Affordability forces people to drive farther out to find housing, which then puts even more pressure on our failing transportation network. There’s no win-win scenario if we continue down this path.

Q: Your firm is doing interesting things with 3-D mapping. A couple details?

A: After we started offering laser scanning as a service in 2005, we began looking for the next leap in technology, and that’s when we found (a company called) earthmine.

ESM became earthmine’s first project partner in 2008, and our most exciting project to date was mapping transportation assets along a highway in northern Greece. This roadway is about 416 miles long and extends from the Greece’s northwestern most seaport to the Turkish border. As you might imagine, there was quite a learning curve with our first international project, especially shipping high-tech equipment overseas.

We’re going to have an exciting announcement in early 2016 with the newest version of this technology, so stay tuned.

Q: ESM has offices in Federal Way and Everett. Are you eyeing other locations?

A: We offer civil engineering, survey and planning out of our corporate office in Federal Way. The Everett office is small and houses a second group of survey crews. This helps us cover the entire Puget Sound region more efficiently than trying to run all survey out of Federal Way. We have no plans to expand into other locations or move offices at this point, although Greece was pretty nice.

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