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October 29, 2015

Survey: BCE Engineers

Specialty: Mechanical, electrical, life safety and energy design

Principals: Daren Bitterling, Michael Cozart, Scott Zimbelman, Chuck Heaton, Chris Caffee, Steve Woolery, Ben Hedin, Joe Snyder

Founded: 1986

Headquarters: Fife

2014 revenues: $8.2 million

Projected 2015 revenues: $9.5 million

Projects: Meadow Crest Early Learning Center, Renton; Joint Base Lewis-McChord mechanical/electrical on-call services; Youngstown Flats, Seattle

Photo courtesy of BLRB Architects [enlarge]
BCE was the electrical and mechanical engineer for Renton School District’s Meadow Crest Early Learning Center, which opened in 2014. BLRB Architects was the designer.

Dave Newkirk, BCE’s marketing manager, discussed with the DJC how the firm has grown and the effects of the development boom on its staff and workloads.

Q: What projects represent BCE’s sweet spot?

A: Either a new construction or large renovation of a facility that incorporates mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection engineering services. We really like it when all of services are needed and we can collaborate in-house to come up with great engineering solutions to complex problems.

Q: Which services have seen the most growth over the last 5 years?

A: Our Fire Protection Group has been really busy on various projects for schools, military and on the commercial side. All of BCE’s services have been designing in 3-D modeling programs such as Revit for close to a decade, and has greatly expanded our ability to work in these programs and provide our clients an improved product.

Q: Where would you like to see more growth?

A: It would be great to see more health care and commercial projects come our way. We have made some great strides in those markets, but we are always looking for more ways to be inventive and creative to save time and money for our clients.

Q: How has the development boom affected your firm?

A: Our staff size has seen moderate growth, but luckily our workload has been very consistent for multiple years due to our very diversified portfolio.

We do everything we can to make sure that our growth is sustainable and consistent regardless of the fluctuations in the economy, which is why we were able to maintain our workload and staff through the recession and why we haven’t had a huge hiring boom with the economic boom. Instead of hiring more people, we balance the work between our staff and ensure all employees have plenty to do, while balancing their time away from the office.

Basically, the development boom has meant that we get to be a little more selective and have more freedom to focus our energies towards the areas we want to grow.

Q: Is there a recent project that has given the firm a chance to stretch its capabilities?

A: It is hard to single out a specific project when we have such a diversified work load. One of the benefits of doing many different types of projects is it allows us to provide innovative solutions that can cross over from one market sector to another for the benefit of the design team and project owner.

Q: How has the growth of sustainable design affected your work?

A: As engineers, we are always striving to come up with the best possible solutions for the design challenges we face. The emphasis on sustainable design in the industry has given us license to explore new ways to save energy and decrease building life-cycle costs and impacts. The growth of sustainable design has made our work more fun because there are more opportunities for our engineers to be creative and produce real innovative solutions for our clients.

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