Coffman Engineers

Specialty: Multidisciplinary engineering firm

Management: Dave Coffman, president; Patrick Piermattei, CFO; Harold Hollis, senior vice president; Dave Ruff, vice president; Jennifer Van Vleet, marketing vice president

Founded: 1979

Headquarters: None; offices in Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Anchorage, Alaska

2009 revenues: $26 million

Projected 2010 revenues: $28 million

Current projects: Alyeska Pipeline, Alaska; Fort Lewis brigade complex; medical office buildings in Mill Creek and Redmond

Photo by Doug J Scott, courtesy of Coffman Engineers
Coffman Engineers performed the electrical engineering work at the $95 million St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, which opened in 2009.

Coffman Engineers is one of those firms that seems to be involved in a bit of everything.

Its array of specialties — which run from civil, structural, electrical and mechanical work to controls, commissioning and sustainable design — expose the company to a wide variety of projects.

“We have a diverse spectrum of customers,” said CFO Patrick Piermattei, who heads Coffman’s Seattle office. “It’s one of the reasons we came through the Great Recession reasonably unscathed.”

Pipelines boost sales

Coffman expects to see an 8 percent increase in revenues this year, thanks in part to its growing oil and gas pipeline work in Alaska and Hawaii. The Hawaii office, with seven employees, opened earlier this year, and the Anchorage office, Coffman’s largest, has 80 employees. The firm has a total staff of 210 in five locations.

Staffing across the company has been “reasonably stable” over the last year, Piermattei said, including growth in Hawaii and Alaska.

He reeled off a list of large corporate customers that account for much of its business — BP, Tesoro, Chevron, Boeing, Nordstrom and the Alyeska Pipeline (owned by a consortium of companies) — as well as public clients such as the U.S. military and the Alaska Department of Corrections. Coffman does a variety of projects for oil companies, he said, including platform work, corrosion control and pipeline integrity.

Revenues from the Anchorage office are expected to jump 20 percent this year, compared with a 4 percent drop in Seattle, where the structural engineering market has been hard hit. Coffman doesn’t do as much high-rise office and condo tower work as other firms, Piermattei said, so its exposure to that sector has been limited.

Coffman hasn’t had to shift its focus in response to the weak economy, he said. Its mix of public and private projects remains stable, and the firm continues to work as a prime consultant about half of the time.

Seeking opportunities

Finding talented job candidates amid high unemployment has been a hit-or-miss affair.

“It’s very dependent on what expertise you’re looking for,” Piermattei said.

The firm receives hundreds of resumes for marketing openings or junior positions such as structural engineering interns, but for jobs that require more seasoning, like senior electrical engineers, “the market continues to be pretty thin.”

Coffman is on the prowl for merger and acquisition opportunities, he said, both to enhance its position in existing locations and to make inroads in places where it’s not already established.

“We actually feel we came through this (recession) with flying colors,” Piermattei said. “There are opportunities in the market going forward.”

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