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September 29, 2016
Specialty: Environmental and geotechnical engineering, natural resources
Management: David Winter, president and CEO; Jeff Wagner, COO; Mike Ehlebracht, environmental services manager
2015 revenues: $20 million
Projected 2016 revenues: $22 million
Projects: Governors Island redevelopment, New York; Holden Mine remediation and natural resource damage assessment, Chelan; County of Maui municipal stormwater, Hawaii
Hart Crowser president and CEO David Winter discussed what’s ahead for the company.
Q: You were recently named CEO and Jeff Wagner was named COO. Are you making any changes? What’s at the top of your agenda?
A: We are working to diversify Hart Crowser both geographically and technically to offset the inevitable ups and downs of any marketplace. We have recently opened new offices in Honolulu and Spokane, both targeting primarily environmental clients, and we have added owner’s rep services for oil and gas clients around the world.
Our company has always focused on finding solutions for our clients. I don’t think that will ever change nor should it.
Q: What challenges does the company face?
A: The reduction of funding for the Ecology Toxics Fund has affected our project load from this key client. With all of the other budget challenges facing our legislators it’s hard to predict that full funding will come back any time soon.
We are also seeing more and more government contracts set aside for small and disadvantaged businesses and higher subcontract utilization goals for these types of firms. This can have the effect of cutting us out of opportunities for prime and sub work for government clients.
Q: Any thoughts on Washington’s carbon tax ballot measure?
A: Our general policy is to support legislation that fosters business and business opportunities in Washington. We have concerns the carbon tax measure may do the opposite.
Q: Hart Crowser has been expanding its disaster resilience services. Have clients become more concerned about preparedness?
A: Yes. A good example is at Governors Island in New York Harbor. A key design element was use of fill soil and a special planting mix designed to withstand long-term sea level rise. The design was unexpectedly tested during Hurricane Sandy, and only a fraction of the plantings were lost and there was no significant erosion.
Closer to home, Ecology and EPA are emphasizing taking into account climate change impacts on the selection and maintenance of cleanup actions. We are getting involved in a study for Ecology evaluating potential climate change impacts to existing and planned remedial actions and habitat restoration projects.
Q: How has your staffing changed over the past year?
A: We have been hiring steadily in our geotechnical engineering business unit. In our environmental and natural resources business units we have been targeting our hiring on specialized capabilities or specific locations.
I think it is a pretty typical hiring market these days, although the salary demands can be surprising.
Q: What does the company do to recruit and hold on to top talent?
A: We attract and keep senior staff by giving them opportunities to take on real responsibility and build their own strong client base. We are a very entrepreneurial company.