As the firm moved into the 1950s, it had but one office; that in Corvallis, Oregon. The Corvallis office at this time was very structured. Strong structural, mechanical, electrical, soils, water, wastewater, etc., groups. All small. Several large projects were won in this era: Kingsley Field, American River Project (with Clair Hill), etc. Ralph Roderick, Clair Hill, and Harlan Moyer got this work started at Lake Tahoe. Gene Suhr captured the technical side of Lake Tahoe that made it work, with the help of Russ Culp and many others. A gold mine of work came from Earl Reynolds in our new Boise office with the Boise Bench Project. Earl’s work set the stage for our Regional System.
In February the operation moved into a 3,500-square-foot building located on a double city lot sized plot of ground in Corvallis at 1600 Western Avenue. The building design was dictated by the principals and the actual design details were created by Harry Teel who did not only the architectural details but mechanical and electrical as well. It was built by a local contractor and was financed by a Portland, Oregon, mortgage company. The Corvallis Gazette Times at the time reported that the building was adequate in size for the staff of 22 people.
By now, the size and reputation of the budding organization had drawn considerable public attention and a requirement for easy recognition by the public became more and more apparent, so the CH2M monogram was created and adopted as the official logo. In subsequent years, this monogram was replaced by others, especially during the periods when the acquisition of Black Crow & Eidsness and Clair A. Hill & Associates required dual identification for publicity purposes (Logos (PDF)).
A major step was taken toward becoming a multi-office organization with the opening of a second office in Boise, Idaho in August with Earl C. Reynolds, Jr. as the Engineer in Charge. The decision to create an office in Boise rather than, say, in the immediate Northwest neighborhood was influenced by several very important factors. First, Reynolds, through his family, had important connections in Boise. Second, CH2M was bidding on a very large and important project in the Boise area and the likelihood of winning a contract was very high. Servicing such an important contract required strong local presence; hence the need for a Boise office was a logical decision. And finally, it did not take a great deal of business development research to discover that the general area that could be serviced by a Boise office was very large and appeared to be much in need of just those services that CH2M could provide.
As of August 31, CH2M had 41 employees and 6 partners. The first major Corps of Engineers work at Mt. Home Air Force Base was completed this year. The project consisted mainly of a variety of civil engineering projects, and served to provide an entry into the field of providing services for the Corps.
CH2M’s first newsletter was published on September 6. This recognition of the importance of in-house communication ultimately led to the Tie Line, a house publication that was primarily written by Jim Howland and published for many years.
The 500th project was completed this year. The need for upgrading the project delivery system led to the acquisition of the first ammonia process continuous printer in the Corvallis office.
A major project to design a water treatment plant for the Atomic Energy Commission at Richland, Washington, using new treatment and control concepts, culminated in the development of the new Microfloc Process, a high-rate filtration system. This process was later to become a part of the highly publicized Lake Tahoe Treatment Plant project that propelled the firm onto the national scene, literally starting it on the road to becoming a major player throughout the United States.
Continuing to demonstrate that innovation and imagination were hallmark traits of CH2M, studies being made on the Eugene, Oregon, 13th Avenue Pumping Station led to the invention of variable speed pump motor controls by Burke Hayes and Carl Ryden. A patent was applied for, and later granted, under the name of Flomatcher, and for a time both the Microfloc Process and the Flomatcher control system were separately manufactured and commercially sold as part of the General Services Company, a CH2M subsidiary.
This was a second big year for government work. A formal approach to developing new business was taken by dividing the Northwest into zones for exploring new business possibilities. The general plan, in those days, was pretty much confined to the Northwestern states and developing new business opportunities was considered a principal responsibility of the CH2M office most closely associated in the geographical area. One major project was the first substation design produced for the Bonneville Power Administration.
The 1,000th project was completed indicating that new business development methods were working. Space problems again plagued the firm and construction was started on an addition to the Corvallis office. In addition, an annex was opened on 15th Street to absorb part of the staff overflow.
The increased project activity pointed out some added needs, especially in the Soils Engineering area. Drilling equipment for soils work was purchased and a separate company, Subsurface Exploration Company, was formed. Also, the newly available Polaroid camera was purchased for use in survey work to supplement the field notes and to record special or unusual features that would be considered in later reports and design work.
A significant step was taken toward establishing a strong professional friendship with Clair A. Hill & Associates when Harlan Moyer and Archie Rice worked together on the Spring Creek Diversion Study as a potential water source for the City of Redding.
Recognition again came to the firm and its principals when Fred Merryfield was appointed by Oregon Governor Paul Patterson to the new State Water Resources Board. This was a fairly significant 4-year appointment that was in later years filled by other members of the CH2M staff.
The staff count reached 100, a sizable work force. In keeping with the trend in small and medium-sized businesses, the workweek was changed from 44 hours to 40 hours. The loss of 400 hours per week of manpower required some adjustments in scheduling and estimating project completion dates, but such problems were manageable. Increased production efficiency was generated by developing and installing a library cataloguing system, and the formation of Service Departments in the Corvallis office, defined as Drafting and Surveying, Estimating, Library, Printing, Resident Engineering, Secretarial, Soils Laboratory and Specifications. To keep the staff in closer touch with management, a CH2M Advisory Committee was formed. This committee, composed of non-partner staff members, allowed the staff to be heard if they encountered any problems or questions in connection with their role in the firm as it continued to grow. The Advisory Committee was an important manifestation of the founding partners’ desire that the firm be operated for the benefit of the entire staff, not merely for the original partners.
To meet the increasing need for mobility by the staff, the company leased 3 pool cars-the first of what turned out in later years to become a pool of more than 600 vehicles. A number of the more adventurous staff members led by Jim Poirot purchased an airplane, formed a Flying Club, and learned how to fly. While this little enterprise was started as a private venture amongst friends, CH2M purchased a membership in the club and on occasion used it as a business tool. Ultimately, its inherent usefulness led to the firm buying its own aircraft and hiring company pilots.
The nascent relationship between Clair A. Hill & Associates (CAHA) and CH2M was advanced when Harlan Moyer and Ralph Roderick joined forces on the City of Redding Sewerage Study. Together with Burke Hayes and Carl Ryden, a way was found to incorporate the Flomatcher system in the study. This was the first project to be jointly executed by CAHA and CH2M.
The 1,500th project was completed this year. The Company purchased multilith equipment to expedite its printing requirements, and installed a central dictation system in the Corvallis office. The variable speed pump device (Flomatcher) was offered for sale. A General Services Company was formed to separate the manufacturing and distribution of the firm’s patented products from the overall project delivery system.
Intra-office newsletters were issued on a weekly basis. In the area of Human Resources, Medical and Hospital coverage were added to the Employee Benefits list and a Credit Union was formed. The use of digital computers for water grid analysis was introduced. Fred Merryfield was elected national president of the American Water Works Association, and Holly Cornell was elected president of the Pacific Northwest Council of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE.) Among the major projects completed this year was a design for a 650-foot-span suspension bridge for Georgia-Pacific.
CAHA and CH2M again joined forces to work on the design of the 1,700-home Beale Air Force Base housing project. In this effort, Harlan Moyer worked closely with Wayne Phillips, Dick Nichols, Joe Purviance and Burke Hayes over many of the following years, until well into the 1960s that it took to complete the project.
Expansion continued with the construction of a second addition to the Corvallis office and the building and equipping a Soils Lab. Among the notable projects this year, was the first major Alaska project, a water study. Realizing that each person in the firm was part of a team that coul function best only if kept fully informed, weekly information sessions were scheduled from 4:30 to 6:00 P.M.
Holly Cornell became the president of CEC/Oregon. Holly had been a leader in the formation of the Consulting Engineers Council of Oregon, and had agreed to serve as its president during its formative years.
The 2,000th project was completed. The Corvallis office was upgraded with the installation of air conditioning and the installation of ADT and a Western Union terminal. The first machine payroll processing through a service bureau was used. The company culture was under a constant state of development, and by now fixed practices such as the annual Christmas Party were becoming more and more the means for establishing the close relationships between Management and Staff (Photo) (Photo). A profit sharing and retirement plan was originated, and a major medical and salary continuation insurance coverage plan was instituted. As a result of the Roseburg explosion disaster, Jim Howland, through CEC/Oregon, organized an engineering organization for future disaster relief in Oregon.
With the growth of their reputation as a responsible and capable firm, CH2M was successful in procuring larger and more complex projects. The Boise office landed a large project for the treatment of potato