PCS Structural Solutions

Specialty: Structural engineering

Management: Dan Putnam, CEO; Craig Stauffer, president; Jim Collins, executive vice president; Brian Phair, vice president; Don Scott, vice president, director of engineering

Founded: 1965

Headquarters: Tacoma

2006 revenues: $7.5 million

Projected 2007 revenues: $9.5 million

Current projects: Franciscan Health System’s St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor; Woodinville High School; University of Washington Tacoma’s Philip Hall

Image courtesy of ZGF Architects
PCS is the structural engineer for St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor. The 80-bed hospital, designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, is scheduled to open in early 2009.

Business has been strong for PCS Structural Solutions, an engineering firm based in Tacoma.

“We’ve grown both in staff and revenue about 20 percent this year,” said President Craig Stauffer. “There are indications the market is cooling off, but we haven’t seen that yet.”

Much of the firm’s work is divided between hospital and education projects, though hospital work has fueled the firm’s growth in recent years.

“The medical side has just continued to grow for us,” Stauffer said. “Ten years ago we began ramping up, and it’s been a very consistent portion of our work.”

Top hospital projects for the firm include Franciscan Health System’s St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia and an emergency department project at Multicare’s Tacoma General Hospital.

Not just hospitals

Stauffer said education work, too, “is as busy as it’s ever been” as school districts strive to keep pace with population growth and replace aging infrastructure.

The firm has been expanding into mid-rise work, and would like to do more.

“This is probably our next goal,” Stauffer said, “to spread even further into the towers.”

Still, private builders are the first to get hit when the economy sours, he said, so even though PCS does a fair amount of private work, it looks to its public work to help pick up the slack.

“When things do slow down a bit, we’re not just anchored down in one area,” he said.

Stauffer’s biggest fear is that the firm isn’t always going to remain so busy. “We’re making sure we’re well positioned for the economic downturn that is going to happen someday,” he said.

Controlled growth

One boon for the firm was its second-place ranking in Structural Engineer magazine’s “best firms to work for” list last year.

“It’s a very good recruitment tool,” Stauffer said. “We get resumes from around the country.”

The firm is looking to add staff in order to keep pace with growth, Stauffer said, but he anticipated that staff growth would be controlled. “We’re not interested in growing really quick,” he said.

The firm has 40 employees in Tacoma and another 20 in Seattle, where Stauffer works. Looking ahead, Stauffer said an increasing share of the firm’s work will make use of building information modeling.

While just a few years ago “the technology wasn’t quite there yet,” he said, “what we’re seeing is it allows much more coordination (with the building design team) early on.

“Right now we’re starting to use it for quite a few of our projects. In the relatively near future this is the way we’ll do work.”

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