The long-range plan developed in the previous year resulted in the goal for CH2M to become a “major multi-disciplined, international, professional, systems-oriented organization, owned and controlled by professionals.” The initial step was further defined as “the development of a multi-disciplined, multi-office firm in the 13 western states, concurrently with developing a national and international reputation for the firm and its fine staff of professional experts.” The next vital step in this rather ambitious plan was to open the San Francisco office, at first under the management of Wayne Phillips but subsequently taken over by Phil Hall who presided over its later growth. Initially, this office was to be a joint venture with Clair A. Hill & Associates of northern California, but in a short time, the merger of CH2M with CAHA made that issue moot.
The positive publicity received for the AWT (advanced waste treatment) system in South Lake Tahoe prompted the Denver Water Board to contact CH2M HILL regarding the Board’s fledgling “Successive Use Program.” With competition along the Front Range for the available water supplies becoming increasingly fierce, the Denver Water Board undertook an extensive study to investigate the feasibility of recycling wastewater for domestic reuse. Ken Miller, the Board’s Water Chemist and treatment guru, contacted Gene Suhr to discuss the possibility of CH2M HILL becoming a member of the Reuse Team that led to a long-term consulting contract for the study and ultimately the construction of the highly sophisticated Successive Reuse Demonstration Plant.
The most significant event for this year was the merger with Clair A Hill & Associates to form the firm known today as CH2M HILL. This step included offices already operating in Redding, California, and in Juneau and Anchorage, Alaska.
Now that the long-range plan for the firm’s future first established in the prior year had been defined, an outline for the plan’s implementation began to emerge. Nearly immediately however, the plan required amendment because of a major opportunity for an AWT project in our nation’s capitol. The project for the Upper Occoquan Sewer Authority (UOSA) was to begin an unbroken stretch of work for the Authority that extends to the present day. It began with the publication of an engineering discussion by a member of the Virginia Water Control Board entitled “Tahoe East.” In it, Noman Cole advocated an AWT plant similar to the plant at Lake Tahoe. Because CH2M and CAHA had done the Tahoe plant, the two firms were invited to propose on the project along with twenty-five other firms, all of which were regarded as leading practitioners in the eyes of the Authority. After the CH2M/CAHA presentation, the Authority was divided in a 50-50 split between Metcalf and Eddy and CH2M/CAH. The issue was resolved when Harlan Moyer promised the Authority that a new East-Coast office would be opened and that he and Gene Suhr would move to the office at least for the duration of the preliminary engineering report. Given this assurance, the Authority selected CH2M/CAHA and the newly adopted 13-Western state long-range plan was “history.” In due time, the eastern office was opened in Reston Virginia with Gordon Culp as the Regional Manager to provide a base for closer contact with U. S. Government agencies, as well as for pursuing the developing market on the Eastern seaboard. The initial project, the Upper Occoquan Sewage Agency Project in Virginia, was hugely successful and served as a springboard to other exciting work throughout the Eastern seaboard.
The Denver Water Board, seeking a solution for their burgeoning potable water needs, selected the firm to complete preliminary engineering studies for a system to allow direct reuse of treated sewage to augment their limited water supply. Although the Denver Water Board Successive Reuse contract was rather small in terms of annual fees, it was an extremely significant assignment that marked the first planned direct reuse of treated sewage as a potable water supply. Holly Cornell made contact with the Aurora Water Department that resulted in a small water line design project, and at the same time the firm was unexpectedly selected to do the study for expanding the Metropolitan Denver Sewage Disposal Plant. Shortly thereafter, Colorado Springs selected the firm to provide design services for a large expansion to their wastewater treatment plant.
With these four projects as fuel, the Denver office was launched under the management of Ken Bielman and Niels Nordquist. In the beginning the Denver facility was established as an “Area Office” operating under Earl Reynolds out of Boise, Idaho. But with physical presence in the area, more work was quickly contracted and within two years the operation was elevated to the status of a full blown Regional Office with responsibilities for Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas in addition to the home state of Colorado. Ken Bielman opened the DEN office in 1971 and was the Regional Manager there until 1978.
The firm’s internal operating structure was redesigned to function under the matrix system of management, almost single-handedly designed by Archie Rice, which roughly created intersecting lines of Professional Services management and Regional Administration management. Under this organization, a “Discipline Director” who bore responsibility for technical excellence headed each of the several technical disciplines. Discipline Directors reported to a Technology Director. The position of Technology Director and the various Regional Managers reported to the President who reported to the Board of Directors. Under this matrix type of structure, Jim Howland and Holly Cornell were the first to serve as President and Director of Technology, respectively. Major disciplines were created, including Civil, Economics, Mechanical/Electrical, Survey and Mapping, Water Resources and Water and Wastewater Treatment and Planning. Initial Discipline Directors for these groups were Bob Adams, Herschel Jones, Burke Hayes, Clair Hill, Joe Patton, Sid Lasswell, and Dick Ivey, respectively.
The firm’s growing reputation as an industry leader was evidenced by articles in Reader’s Digest and the prestigious Wall Street Journal giving glowing accounts of the success of the Lake Tahoe project. In addition, The American City Magazine displayed the Lake Tahoe plant photo as its cover photo.
A major off-shore project was also started when the Government of Trinidad selected the team of CH2M HILL together with a local consultant, Trintoplan Consultants, for the expansion of the island’s water supply system. This project, led by Bill Watters and Fred Harem, lasted for many years, and proved to be a real test of CH2M HILL’s willingness to provide services to foreign governments without a thorough mutual understanding and acceptance of contractual obligations.
The early ’70s were marked by the beginning of the rapid expansion of CH2M HILL as a major player in the domestic arena and an emerging force in the international markets. By now the staff size passed the 600 mark and net income reached $2 million. A new discipline, Industrial Waste, was created to better define those services generally described under the broader discipline called Water and Wastewater. This discipline was headed by Bob Pailthorpe.
CH2M HILL was hired to design the AWT plant servicing the Washington, D.C. area, Montgomery County, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission facility and John Filbert and Gene Suhr anchored the staff in the Reston office responsible for the design of this large AWT plant. The design fee for this project was the largest fee in the firm’s history, some $7.9 million. The contract called for a penalty if the design was not completed in nine month’s time. Design was completed ahead of schedule, the plans alone exceeded 3,400 sheets and the other documents required 12 volumes. After all this enormous effort, the client elected not to construct the facility.
With this growth came heavy demands from our clients and the corresponding need to supply and control the services being offered. To better service our printing requirements, CH2M HILL acquired a small printing firm in Corvallis and expanded it to become a central printing department. A second IBM 1130 computer was installed; buildings were expanded in Corvallis, Boise, and Redding. Leased office space was expanded in Reston, Denver and Portland.
New honors were bestowed on the management team when Fred Merryfield was elected President of the International Water Supply Association, a 43-nation international group, and Sid Lasswell was elected President of The Consulting Engineers Council of Oregon.
Growth continued unabated; net income doubled over the previous year, and the stock value increased by 60 percent. The staff count increased to over 800, and net income was now a healthy $4 million. A new area office of the Redding regional office was opened in Sacramento with long-term Redding employee Norm Brazelton being selected as the first manager. Construction Program Management (CPM) was added as a new discipline, initially under the management of Harry Teel, and in later years under John Eskelin. Project work was undertaken in Europe and Asia.
Somewhere in this time frame, CH2M HILL added overseas work to its reputation for quality with its contribution to the Lake Biwa tertiary treatment system pilot plant in Japan. Lake Biwa was held in high cultural and even religious esteem by the Japanese but had been allowed to become badly polluted by runoff from nearby textile mills. CH2M HILL was asked to prepare a design and then help in the construction of the pilot plant, using techniques that had been so spectacularly demonstrated in the Lake Tahoe project. While the final plant was not completed by the Japanese following the pilot plant construction, the project served to create many valuable relationships with a number of important Japanese officials and businessmen. An important outcome of the Lake Biwa project was the firm’s acceptance of a young Japanese engineer named Hajime Sakurai to come to the United States to serve an internship over a period of several years. This was one of many efforts made by the firm to create a workable transfer of technology environment with foreign countries and clients. Hajime has remained a steadfast ally ever since in our vigorous pursuit of overseas projects.
This unprecedented growth and success was a matter of concern to management, which pledged to “Continue our people orientation policies and to re-emphasize humanization.” This concern mirrored the continued desire of the CH2M HILL Management Team to democratize the firm and assure every employee, no matter his or her position, that they were a significant and important part of the firm. It is to the credit of most of the staff that this attitude was met with their willingness to contribute extra effort and extend their unwavering loyalty to their assignments.
Evidence of the relentless march of growth was demonstrated by the addition of new staff which now reached the 1,000 mark, the installation of a DEC-10 computer system, and the provision of additional office space in 9 out of the 11 offices. CH2M HILL now was ranked 20th in the Engineering News-Record list of the top design firms in the nation.
Hill-Harned and Associates, of Redding, California, a geologic and soils materials engineering firm merged with CH2M HILL. Administrative services were enhanced by the introduction of a new magnetic card typewriter system.
Innovation was still a strong element in the engineering environment and patents were applied for on a new ammonia removal and recovery process.
Top level management changes were made this year. After nearly 30 years as the Managing Partner, then President of CH2M and subsequently CH2M HILL, Jim Howland moved to Chairman of the Board, and Holly Cornell filled the role of President. Sid Lasswell was appointed to fill the role of Director of Technology. Jim was also named Director of Regional Operations, the office management side of the matrix organization, the management structure under which the firm was operating at the time.
Several major expansionist moves continued to characterize the far reaching ambitions of the firm: An International Operations program was established with Les Wierson as its Director, and a new venture called CH2M HILL Alaska, a joint venture with the Bering Straits native corporation, was formed. In addition, CH2M HILL joined with Cascade Shipping Company of Portland to form the Portable Port Company, a concept of creating Port and Docking systems which could be located wherever port facilities do not exist.
Other growth demands were met by completing the first phase of a new Management Information System (MIS), the establishment of a new regional office, a project office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a branch of the Los Angeles office in San Diego.
This year also marked the completion of the firm’s first Environmental Protection Agency funded project under a construction management services contract.
CH2M HILL, ever on the alert for new developments in its areas of interest, noted that the firm Black, Crow & Eidsness headquartered in Gainesville, Florida, had developed a technologically improved aquifer storage and delivery system. Interest in this innovative company was greatly heightened by this and their other achievements.
Total projects passed the 10,000 mark with no end in sight for CH2M HILL. The relentless march upward and forward continued with the formation of CH2M HILL Canada Ltd. with its initial office in Kelowna, B.C. Soon after, AmTest, a joint venture with CanTest of Vancouver was created.
On the domestic front, a 12-man planning team, after more than a year of study, completed a comprehensive long-range (5-year) plan outlining and defining the objectives and targets in CH2M HILL’s foreseeable future. This was an extensive piece of work which reached out to many members of the staff for ideas and innovative input into the proposed program for controlled growth.
A new concept for guaranteeing efficiency and quality in the engineering services to be provided to clients was given substance with the inception of a new discipline defined as Value Engineering.
This was a year of major developments for CH2M HILL. At home, Harlan Moyer, a former executive within the former Clair A. Hill & Associates, was elected President of CH2M HILL, the first non-founder to hold that title. Harlan made many contributions to the firm based on his experience as a top executive of Clair A. Hill & Associates, yet continuing the legacies and corporate cultures that both firms valued and shared.
During his terms as president, Harlan zealously guarded the principles of leadership and the open management style of the firm that had been the trademarks of both organizations. Evidence of this guardianship can be found in an address made by Harlan to the up-and-coming leaders of CH2M HILL during a company seminar held in Denver.
Holly Cornell became Chairman of the Board.
One of the biggest single events of this era was the start-up of the $1.7-billion Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) pollution abatement program, the largest contract yet to be undertaken.
A huge step forward was taken this year with the acquisition of Black, Crow and Eidsness (BC&E), a firm well known and firmly ensconced as a major provider of environmental services along the eastern seaboard. As a result of this move, the CH2M HILL staff count jumped upwards by nearly 250 people and the number of regional offices increased significantly.
Even more exciting, CH2M HILL made its debut as a player in the International field by undertaking its first overseas project, design of grain elevators in Pakistan. The project was distinctly not a financial success, but the firm continued to seek overseas work, particularly in the oil-rich Middle East.
Additional proof of CH2M HILL’s growing reputation as a quality performer in the water and wastewater treatment field became evident when the St Petersburg, Florida, Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant (designed by BC&E) was named one of the Ten Outstanding Engineering Achievements of 1976 by the National Society of Professional Engineers.
The year 1977 was also notable for the adoption of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). This plan not only permitted broader employee participation in company ownership, it also provided an additional vehicle to assist in financing expansion and repurchase of stock from retiring stockholders.
While this year was less exciting than the previous one, it again was distinguished by significant growth. The staff count now exceeded 1,500 full-time employees. Jim Poirot was deeply involved in western Canada activity and an office was opened in Calgary, Alberta. This led to the establishment of CH2M HILL Canada. At the time, Canadian firms, by law, had to be at least 51 percent owned by Canadians, and so Steve Lackey moved to Calgary, became a landed immigrant, and became nominally a 51 percent owner of the Canadian firm.
A more formalized district organization structure was developed and instituted and a major wastewater project was undertaken for San Diego, California. At the time, San Diego provided only primary sewage treatment for its sewage and was attempting to gain an exemption to EPA mandated secondary treatment on the basis of ocean discharge. The project was managed by Jerry Boyle and closely coordinated by Jim Howland both of whom moved to San Diego for the duration of the project.
On the international scene, in the Middle East, a City and Land Planning contract for Dammam, Saudi Arabia, was undertaken. This project, spread over 3 years, was managed jointly by Nofal Kasrawi and Otto Vydra. It served as the test laboratory for the design and execution of future long-term overseas projects.
The largest electronics-related project to date, an industrial design project for Wacker Siltronic Corporation for an industrial plant in Portland, Oregon, was commenced.
The CH2M HILL banner was again spotlighted by the receipt of the American Consulting Engineers Council’s National Grand Conceptor Award for the firm’s contribution to the LaMar Bioconversion Resource Recovery Project. The award-winning project, for BioGas of Colorado, Inc., involved preliminary design of a bioconversion facility utilizing waste heat to turn raw manure into methane gas as a fuel supplement for the LaMar, Colorado, electric power plant.
Two other projects, the Denver Potable Water Reuse Demonstration facility design and the Denver Foothills Water Treatment Plant, reinforced CH2M HILL’s growing image as a leader in combining engineering expertise with advanced technology.
Jim Howland became Director of Personnel, bringing all personnel functions into a single Personnel Department. Management now turned its attention inwards to determine both the attitudes and the needs of the huge, and still growing, staff body. In order to give the employees of the firm an opportunity to voice how they felt about their company and to permit them to offer suggestions, an in-depth organizational survey was designed and conducted throughout the firm, including all of the staff located in overseas stations. The results of this study were published and openly discussed for a number of years. Many changes and/or new policies eventually found their way into common practice as the result of this introspective review of the management system. A notable addition to these changes was the hiring of the first Director of Training, Glen Martin.
This year was not to close without the addition of yet another new office, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The initial thrust of this new office was to provide services to the industrial and energy markets, with primary emphasis in the areas of mining, materials handling and coal and minerals processing. The Regional Office Manager at the time of its opening was Willard V. Bluck, a competent and experienced professional in all of those areas.
- With another decade completed, a review of CH2M HILL’s activities disclosed these remarkable facts:
- Gross income increased from $7 million to $95 million.
- The firm now had in excess of 1,800 employees and 31 regional or area offices.
- CH2M HILL was now No. 9 in the Engineering News-Record ranking of design firms.