CH2M HILL was now a mature, robust company with a reputation that was beginning to extend well beyond the borders of the U.S.A. The growth process continued unabated, but now it was a bit easier to attract the eyes of major clients. The firm’s reputation, so laboriously built and carefully nurtured, served to open doors which had previously been out of reach for the fledgling company. In this year Gross Income exceeded $100 Million. Employee ownership was a key factor in allowing the firm to attract and keep a dynamic, talented staff that generated the revenue. This ownership model permitted sharing profits with the individuals who had generated profits through their project work and was termed the “Key Employee Program”. Key Employees were elected annually by vote of the then existing Key Employees.
Looking into the future, the firm’s officers saw that the seat of operations could be better managed and represented if it were to be based in a more centralized location that could offer better access to airline and banking connections. A location within either the Central or Rocky Mountain was also deemed necessary to permit better communication between offices that by now spanned the entire nation. After much agonizing and discussion, the city of Denver was chosen to become the new home for the firm, and the Executive Offices were moved there, as the first step in establishing all major corporate functions there.
The firm now took the first step towards becoming a more visible and active force in the global marketplace. The earlier experience of operating in Saudi Arabia under foreign contractual obligations, forced CH2M HILL to recognize that a new and separate corporate environment was required to manage the vastly different administrative and operating requirements created by contracts established under foreign laws and policies. In 1980, a separate subsidiary, CH2M HILL International, Inc was created so that the regulations and customs of foreign governments could be more easily taken into consideration without coming into conflict with the typical legal precedents observed under domestic laws. Les Wierson as President of the new corporation and Otto Vydra and Nofal Kasrawi as Vice Presidents headed this adventurous step. It announced to the world that CH2M HILL had taken a significant step towards becoming a major player in the global scene and formed the nucleus of the International operations, which exists today.
Earl Reynolds was elected to the seat of Chairman of the Board and he directed the firm’s operations to new levels. CH2M HILL was selected to participate in a joint venture with Metcalf & Eddy of Boston, Mass. for a major water and sewer project in Alexandria, Egypt. This project was to become an ongoing source of work for more than ten years following the initial stages. The project marked the first time that significant numbers of the domestic corporation personnel were temporarily seconded to the new international corporation for project work.
A group in Salt Lake City specializing in Mining Engineering was acquired to add to the growing list of services provided by CH2M HILL. Again, keeping pace with the rapid advances in technology, the first Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) equipment was acquired to investigate the potential for adopting this new method for providing drafting services.
A staff count in excess of 2000 full-time employees was reached this year. Growth continued at a steady pace with gross revenues passing the $100 Million mark, carefully controlled and nurtured to mold the firm to meet its unique character. A Governmental Affairs Office was opened in Washington, D.C. headed by Richard Corrigan. Dick was an expert in the ways of getting the attention of both important political figures as well as the myriad of governmental agencies with which CH2M HILL had to deal when doing project work for the U. S. Government.
The firm now turned its attention Westward by opening an office to serve clients in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas and the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands. Donald Marske, a 13-year veteran of CH2M HILL was appointed as the first Regional Manager of the office located in Maui, Hawaii.
OMI, (Operations Management International) was formed in Houston, Texas to meet the growing client demands for assistance in the operation of Water Treatment plants. This operation grew rapidly and in a few years was to become an important service for CH2M HILL clients.
Albuquerque, New Mexico became the site of a new CH2M HILL office.
This year was largely marked by the relocation of the Corporate Offices to Denver, Colorado. Many of the corporate functions remained in Corvallis, but the office of the President now bore a Denver, CO address.
CH2M HILL was selected as a participant in the huge U. S. Government Superfund project with an initial project totaling $133 Million. In the years to come, the firm’s reputation for high quality project delivery permitted it to share in larger and larger projects of this type.
CH2M HILL gained a new Chairman this year with the election of Jim Poirot to that seat. Chairman Jim oversaw the continued growth of CH2M HILL that permitted the firm rise to number 6 in the ENR ranking of design firms, and the implementation of the Holding Company concept with the formation of CH2M HILL COMPANIES, LTD to allow added diversification and greater operational efficiencies.
The Corvallis office moved into a new 90,000 square foot building located across town from the old location. The Board of directors approved a million dollar expenditure for the installation of Computer-Aided Engineering equipment. The implementation of this new system continued to evolve thereafter, and over the next few years drawing production changed from a manual system to CAD. CAE applications arose very quickly, such as the model-based design in Singapore, and CH2M HILL found itself in a constant struggle to maintain parity with the growth of new technological concepts and processes.
Jim Howland was honored by being selected as the winner of the 1983 John I. Parcel-Leif J. Sverdrup Civil Engineering Management Award. This national award, presented by the Engineering Management Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers, annually recognized a single individual who has made significant contributions to the advancement of civil engineering management.
CH2M HILL was recognized by the U. S. Department of Energy for nuclear by-products recovery work.(Note: What form did this recognition have?, Letter?, Plaque?)The Denver potable water reuse demonstration plant was put in operation.
The closing of this year saw the opening of a new office in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
This year brought more changes and some new advances for CH2M HILL. A subsidiary named IOTECH was created to provide irradiation services. Regional offices were established or moved; a new office in Dallas, Texas managed by Gordon Koblitz, a new office in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Columbia office was moved to Charleston, and the Philadelphia office moved to Oakland, New Jersey. The firm’s Canadian interests were enhanced with the addition of Watson Engineers. Gross Income had now reached $200 Million and future prospects looked brighter than ever.
Another subsidiary, called Industrial Design Corporation, or IDC, was formed this year, under the management of Ken Durant, who had previously headed the Mechanical Design discipline work in the PDX office. Over the years, Ken led this new venture to dramatically successful heights, quickly earning IDC a well-earned title of one of the prized jewels in CH2M HILL’s crown.
Major changes were also made in the internal operations of the firm by the issuance of the first non-voting stock, revision of the Key Employee selection process, and the election of the firm’s first outside director, Ralph Cox.
Selected for REM IV (Superfund) work valued at about $170 million. Work began to facilitate a new Texas region with Norm Brazelton transferring from Sacramento to Texas in mid-year to begin formation of the new region.
Staff count now reached 3,000; continued growth in all areas seemed unending. Combining three of Denver’s area/project offices – Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio – into one region created the new Texas Region. Norm Brazelton was the first to manage this new region. The Dallas area office had opened 3 years earlier and was managed by Gordon Koblitz. Jack Suddath from the Southeast District was asked to be the new San Antonio area office manager; and Peggy Glass, who had owned and managed her own firm in Austin, was named the new Austin area manager.
CH2M HILL ENGINEERING LTD. of Canada joined forces with CANVIRO CONSULTANTS, of Kitchener and Toronto, Ontario, to expand services throughout Canada. This union added 45 professionals from the CANVIRO staff with expertise in industrial water treatment, hazardous waste management, environmental services, analytical services, and water resources.
By the start of 1987, gross revenues had increased to $330 Million and the staff count hovered around 3400 throughout the firm. ENR now rated the firm as #3 in the nation and it was crowding the top contenders. ENR further honored CH2M HILL by naming Jim Poirot “Man of the Year” for leadership in quality of Construction Management.
Don Evans was enticed to leave his post as Regional Manager of the San Francisco Office to become the manager and later, the President, of the OMI operation. Don was a dedicated manager, as was proven when under his leadership, OMI was the recipient of the Malcolm Baldridge Award for excellence in the year 2001.
Started the San Francisco Southwest Plant project, unique because it was to be located underneath the existing Zoo. Ralph Peterson was named as Director of Technology.
Jack E. Leisch & Associates joined CH2M HILL.(Note: Describe J.E.L. firm!) Selected for the ARCS project (Superfund) work worth about $400 Million.