Specialty: Ground engineering and environmental consulting services
As the region’s economy has begun to sputter, Golder Associates has responded by switching gears.
The firm’s revenue from oil and gas work has doubled even as its land-development revenue has slipped by nearly $1 million since last year, according to Doug Dunster, the managing principal.
Overall, revenue is holding steady thanks to a diverse array of projects and market sectors, Dunster said. While many of Golder’s projects are in its own backyard — it’s doing work for Boeing, Snoqualmie Casino and the YarrowBay Group — the firm also has clients in far-flung locales such as Kuwait, Vietnam and Columbia.
“We’re well positioned to weather the storm,” Dunster said. “Some of the business areas we’re in are immune to the ups and downs in the economy,” such as the waste industry.
Despite the credit crisis, the firm expects no problems financing its operations as long as clients keep sending checks.
“We tend to be a company that maintains relatively low debt,” Dunster said. “If clients get slow paying, that’s a concern.”
Golder Associates has more than 150 offices and 6,000 employees on six continents. The 120-person Redmond office oversees a territory that includes offices in Seattle, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Dunster said the Redmond office has grown by 30 to 40 employees over the last several years. The shaky economic environment will put the firm in a position to snap up good employees from troubled companies, he said.
Working for a multinational firm has its advantages: When market sectors fall in or out of favor locally, employees can transfer to offices where their expertise is in demand. When the local land-development market began to dry up, for example, a local Golder engineer was able to pick things up again in sunny Brisbane, Australia. Another employee left to help a mining client in Ghana. On the other hand, Dunster acknowledged, trying to send away employees can be a challenge because “the Northwest is a nice place to be.”
Energy is strong
Dunster estimated about 80 percent of the firm’s revenue is for private-sector work. A lot of the public jobs, he said, are for local water districts and state transportation departments, doing work such as cost evaluations and risk assessments.
On the private side, he expects to see energy-related work to continue to grow. For example, the firm is providing technical services for a 250-mile liquefied natural gas pipeline in Peru.
The firm has also developed software that models how fluid flows through fractured rock systems, which can be used to improve oil extraction techniques.
More clients are now asking for turnkey service — managing projects from start to finish, including operation and maintenance — “so that’s something we’re doing now,” Dunster said.
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