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September 24, 2015
Specialty: Environmental, ground engineering and water services for the real estate, transportation, manufacturing, waste, power, mining, oil and gas, and water industries
Management: Travis McGrath, Pacific Northwest managing principal; Jim Kleppe, U.S. urban development and infrastructure sector leader; Hisham Mahmoud, global president and CEO
Headquarters: Atlanta; local office in Redmond
2014 revenues: Approximately $184 million (U.S.)
Projected 2015 revenues: Similar to 2014
Projects: High-rise buildings, light rail, highways, bridges, dams, environmental remediation, solid waste, water supply and electrical utilities; unconventional oil and gas, pipelines and mining facilities; shoreline studies for the Kitsap Transit Fast Ferry; site identification and permitting for small modular nuclear reactors; more than 15 local redevelopment projects
Jim Kleppe answered questions from the DJC about his company and trends and issues in the industry.
Q: How has your company changed over the last five years?
A: The biggest change has been the nature of our markets and the ebb and flow of client needs. Five years ago, the mining and oil and gas markets were doing well and offering significant growth globally for us. Now they have softened, with less spending on capital expansion (though operational support continues). However, five years ago the development and transportation markets were soft, and now each is offering significant opportunities for our staff. Power and manufacturing projects have held relatively steady.
Q: What are the biggest trends and issues in your industry locally?
A: The trends are:
• The interest of outside capital in the Seattle market. Seattle is seen as one of the best places in the U.S. if not the world to invest capital. So, many investors and developers are considering projects in this area.
• Continuing growth. Informal opinions gathered at some recent real estate and development forums indicate that growth in development will continue for the next two to four years in the Seattle area.
• Climate change. We’ve had some warm weather with poor snowpacks. Should this be a sustained trend, there could be stress on our water supply that may be even more significant given the growth mentioned earlier.
Q: Where will growth come from in the next few years?
A: Growth will be related to the trends described earlier: in real estate development and water resources. Transportation will be strong as our state Legislature has thankfully passed a new investment package, offering improvements over a 16-year window. Sound Transit will be taking on more improvements and will be looking at another funding package. And local agencies, such as the city of Seattle, are considering their own funding mechanisms.
Q: How can cities become more sustainable?
A: The definition of sustainability, especially as applied to cities, is varied. But, if one assumes the economic and safety components of sustainability are covered, the more physical components promoting sustainability include:
• A variety of transportation modes, including buses, light rail, highways and roads with ample capacity
• Energy efficiency in buildings and production of cleaner energy
• Water conservation and reuse
• Make cities more resilient to address the effects of climate change
• Green spaces that incorporate our natural environment (landscapes, woods, beaches, creeks, etc.)