The firm began this decade as a six-person partnership and a single satellite office, the Boise Office, and ended it as a full-fledged multi office corporation with the Seattle and Portland Offices opening to gain projects as a “local offices.” During this decade, staff size grew to 310 persons and the firm completed a “flagship” project at the Lake Tahoe Tertiary Treatment plant that was destined to propel the firm into first national and later world-wide prominence.
Earl C. Reynolds, Jr. was made a partner (PDF). The Seattle Office was opened by Holly Cornell, Jim Poirot, and Leslie Elliott, soon to be joined by Oscar Frial. A plot of land was purchased for the Boise, Idaho office building which was constructed in 1961. The Flying Club acquired a Mooney Airplane. CH2M pioneered the use of air photos generated by professional aerial mapping organizations as “plan” for pipeline plan and profile sheets.
This was a major year for government work. Among the projects was the rehabilitation of the Air Defense Command heating systems in its facilities throughout the Northwest. As was often the case, the high quality work performed on this project established CH2M as a reliable organization, capable of performing in a highly professional and technically capable manner. This opened the door to additional projects in the growing governmental sphere of needs for technical assistance. In what was to be the first of many sewerage projects, CH2M designed a facility for the city of Eugene, Oregon, providing the first secondary wastewater treatment for a city on the Willamette River. Thus began what later grew into a highly successful specialty for CH2M.
This year saw the start of the South Tahoe PUD project by Clair A Hill & Associates. This involved finding an effective and efficient solution to the effluent disposal problem. The eventual solution was attained when Ralph Roderick, in his easy-going downhome style convinced the PUD Board Members of how CAHA and CH2M could jointly design an Advanced Waste System that would meet the challenges the problem presented. History shows that this was done as promised, not exactly as Ralph had envisioned, but neverthless with results that turned out to be a smashing success! Other professionals involved in this high profile project were Gene Suhr, Sid Lasswell, Russell Culp, Archie Rice in addition to many other members of the combined staffs of both firms.
Bob Adams, Wayne Phillips and Sid Lasswell were named as partners. To better chart the firm’s future course, Booz-Allen-Hamilton was hired to make a management study of the firm, and to make recommendations. The result was an overall reorganization, naming Fred Merryfield as the Staff Manager. John Denny was engaged as a PR consultant and served the rapidly growing company very well for many years.
The brand new Boise company-owned Office building was opened with considerable excitement over the business prospects in the area. Earl Reynolds was named the Regional Manager, and among the earliest staff members were Roy Taylor and David Benion. It has been recalled that in those days, the need for inter-office communication was a critical problem and for a while a Teletype Machine was installed to expedite this vital function. It was not successful over the long haul and had to be abandoned, but the experience was added to the long list of trial-and-error procedures the struggling firm had to cope with. Back in Corvallis, the first Xerox copier was installed–a mundane happening in later years, but at the time it represented a recognizable benchmark of internal size and sophistication.
This was the year that the IRS approved the proposed profit sharing and retirement plan. Adding to the list of individual accomplishments of the firm and its leaders, Fred Merryfield was named as the director of the International Water Supply Association, representing the U. S. Water Works Groups and Bob Adams was elected to serve as the president of the Structural Engineers Association of Oregon.
Pilot plant studies using Microfloc in sewage treatment at the Lake Tahoe treatment plant revealed some exciting results. Both CAHA and CH2M had been determined to make a showcase of their expertise on that project, and they were well on their way to accomplishing just that. The synergistic efforts of the two firms were utilized on other projects such as the design of four powerhouses and a pumping station on the American and the Rubicon Rivers (collecting the largest fee to date!), with CAHA doing all of the location surveys.
The 2500th project was completed. Bill Watters and Fred Harem were named as partners. Ken Bielman became the manager of technical services in the Corvallis office. By June, the total staff count had reached 130 full and part-time employees. The Seattle office moved into larger quarters and the Corvallis office again expanded by a third. The Corvallis office added a varityper to its equipment list and an automatic telephone system was installed.
The 3000th project was completed. An organization chart (PDF) of the rapidly expanding firm was published to include the offices of Boise, Corvallis, and Seattle. The Boise office building was expanded by adding 17 feet to the back of the existing structure. And the Corvallis office was again enlarged by adding a two story 5000 square foot addition. A one-half block parcel of land across Western Ave. was acquired with an eye on future expansion needs. The CH2M mailing list, of prodigious size by now, was computerized. A Quarterly newsletter for external distribution called “CH2M REPORTS” was started, a periodical which survived and grew into the the modern-day “Unlimited.” Archie Rice became the first Consulting Engineer to serve as Chairman of the prestigious Pacific Northwest Section of AWWA.
The Portland office was opened this year with Lloyd Anderson as Manager and Director of Planning. Urban and Regional Planning, as well as Interstate Highway work was added to the firm’s list of services. Equipment acquisitions included IBM accounting equipment and a Process Camera, and darkroom facilities were constructed for the Corvallis office. With the rapid growth of the firm, inter-office communication needed to be drastically improved, and a tie-line telephone system was added between Corvallis and Portland to augment the tie-line system between the Portland and Seattle offices. Ralph Roderick went to Costa Rica on Business Development missions. Ralph also became President of the Pacific Northwest Section of the Water Pollution Control Federation this year and Bob Adams was named Chairman of the Western States Conference of Structural Engineer Associations.
The disasterous earthquake in Alaska in this year, created many engineering tasks under very difficult conditions. Both CAHA and CH2M were called upon to provide engineering services for relocating the badly damaged city of Valdez and for the rebuilding a portion of the railroad system.
Project number 3500 was completed in January; project number 4000 was completed in November. Billings had by now reached the awesome figure of $2 million dollars! Ralph Roderick was named the Corvallis Office Manager. Among the staff of 175, the firm had its first husband-wife engineering team–Rochelle and Roger Dolan.
The effects of continuing growth constantly found all areas of the firm in need of more space. The Portland office moved from the 5th to the 11th floor of the Executive Building. The General Services Company building was constructed at the Corvallis Airport Industrial Park. Soon after, the General Services Company product rights, land and building was sold to and became a subsidiary of Neptune Meter Company.
Jim Howland was elected President of CEC/Oregon. Holly Cornell was elected President of the Seattle Section of ASCE. An Oregon chapter of the American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians was formed in Corvallis with Harry Teel as President. Harry Teel was also named president of the Benton County YMCA. This was the year that CH2M was featured in the “Engineering News-Record”. An exciting climax to the year was generated when the pivotal project to date, the Lake Tahoe treatment plant, using the most advanced wastewater treatment systems, went on line with much fanfare and public display.
The staff count reached the 200 mark. CH2M became a Corporation with Jim Howland named as President, but with partnership status retained for special projects. Among the new stockholders were Lloyd Anderson, Ken Bielman, Russ Culp, Austin Evanson, Dale King, LaMont Matthews, Harry Mejdell, Dick Nichols, Bob Pailthorp, Jim Poirot, Joe Purviance, Carl Ryden, Vaughn Sterling, Roy Taylor, and Les Wierson.
Another barrier was broken when Kathy Phillips Ritter became the firm’s first female drafting technician. Les Wierson was named head of engineering services in the Portland office. The Subsurface Exploration Company merged into CH2M Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary of CH2M. The Boise office again underwent expansion at a cost of $28,890. The Corvallis office was also bulging at the seams and two trailers were moved in to provide more office space. A new office was formed in Vancouver, Washington headed by Gordon Elliott to design the Washington State portion of I-205, bypassing central Vancouver.
An automatic collating machine was installed in the Corvallis print shop, and the first IBM MT/ST (Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter) was acquired. Specifications were now stored in CSI format and Master Specifications were now stored on MT/ST tape. Fred Merryfield was named Engineer of the Year by the Professional Engineers of Oregon. He also represented the American Water Works Association at the International Water Supply Association meeting at Barcelona, Spain.
Bob Adams was named President of the Oregon Section of ASCE and Mac Stuart became President of the Oregon Section of ASCET. Harry Teel was elected to the Corvallis City Council, and Jim Howland named to the Planning Commission.Lloyd Anderson was named Chairman of the Multnomah County Charter Committee. The most outstanding achievement of the year, was the completion of the tertiary treatment plant at Lake Tahoe whose design tied for first place in CEC/Oregon Design Competition. By now, CH2M stood 116th in ranking of the Engineering News-Record listing of the top engineering firms.
The 4500th project was completed this year. By now, the staff count had passed the 250 mark. This growth did not go unnoticed-by year-end CH2M was ranked 79th in Engineering News-Record’s listing of the Top 500 Design Firms. Wayne Phillips became Mechanical Projects Manager and Burke Hayes was appointed Electrical Projects Manager in the Corvallis office. A new wing was added to the Corvallis office building bringing the office space total to 30,000 square feet. Additional property was purchased in Corvallis for future expansion and traded one-half block of land on Western Avenue, purchased in 1963, to Oregon State University for land at the rear of the CH2M building. Among the major projects completed in this year was major Boeing airfield work for the 747 program.
Bth the Seattle and the Portland offices expanded to contain their growth needs. Taking advantage of the expanding technological equipment availability, computer terminals were installed in the Corvallis, Vancouver and Seattle offices. The Data Processing Guidance Committee was formed to guide the firm’s entry and expansion of its activities in the computer and data processing fields. An interim edition of the Policy and Procedures Manual was published and distributed.
- Among the many other notable achievements chronicled in this year:
- Jim Howland was elected to the national Board of Directors of CEC.
- N. B. Nordquist served on the national Board of Trustees of ICET.
- Holly Cornell served as a member of AWWA’s national Technical and Professional Committee on Engineering and Construction.
- R. L. Chapman became Chairman of the Purification Division of AWWA.
- Sid Lasswell was asked to serve on the national committee of WPCF.
- An artist’s drawing of Earl Reynolds was published in the leading Boise Newspaper bearing the caption “Portrait of a Distinguished Citizen”.
- Holly Cornell and Fred Harem received AWWA Distribution Division Awards in Atlantic City for their paper “Design of Circular Pre-stressed Concrete Tanks”.
- The International Grand Award for Engineering Excellence was received from Consulting Engineers Council/USA for the Lake Tahoe water reclamation plant design.
- The Salmon Harbor Project at Winchester Bay won the CEC/Oregon 1967 Design Competition (1 of 3 winners).
Project numbers now commenced their 4 digit string with “5”. Growing out of its adolescence, CH2M was maturing into a solid, well run, and well respected organization. In Seattle, the staff of H. Zinder and Associates, a team of Economists were assimilated into the Seattle office, serving as the nucleus of the future Economics discipline, a service which CH2M was able to offer its clients and use itself to provide full-service project delivery capability.
In the Corvallis headquarters offices, an IBM Model 1130 computer system was installed for engineering applications. The Boise office was expanded again, and the Portland office moved to the 4th floor of the Boise Cascade Building on 4th Street.
Determined to stay on the leading edge of technological advances which were becoming available at a rapid pace, Holly Cornell turned over his role as Regional Manager of the Seattle office to Jim Poirot in order to conduct a production study pointing to greater use of computers, both in the professional engineering side of the firm, and in the administrative section. The result of this study was the development of a number of procedures to facilitate the work of the firm. And, most importantly, was the implementation of the concept that computers were to alter the way that engineering, accounting, in fact most of the operations taking place within the firm were to be performed in the future. Holly was then named as Director of Technology and he immediately set about heading the firm in the direction of extensive computerization.
To take advantage of the vast off-shore market for its services, CH2M formed CONSUD, a subsidiary located in Argentina.
CH2M was by now recognized as a vital force in the field of Engineering Design. CH2M Industries increased its activities with the sale of rights to the Suhr Sampler and the Smith Slope and Curvature Meter. Off-shore work was represented by power work in Thailand and Brazil.
The firm ended the decade of the Sixties with Net Profits and Gross Sales showing a sixfold increase and total staff tripled in size. The 1969 Gross Revenue was $6.2 Million, and the full-time staff size at year-end was 310. The firm’s success did not go unnoticed–a tempting offer was made to be acquired by Planning Research Corporation (PRC) which was at the time a publically held company that was in the stated business of acquiring A/E or construction companies. As recalled by Mike Fisher, he and Jim Howland met with the PRC M&A leader and decided to reject their offer.
It was apparent that a successful formula for growth and profitability was driving the firm’s future, and a major long-range plan was prepared, setting forth objectives and methods for achieving those objectives.
Developing a personnel base and a series of large contracts in the ’60s and ’70s provided the capability and qualifications for proposing, being selected and accomplishing the mega-projects of the ’80s and ’90s. Some of the largest contracts in the ’60s were obtained in Seattle. These included Seattle Storm Sewer Separation, Boeing 747 plant and the Southwest Suburban Water District Sewer System.