For the past fifty-five years, private companies and municipalities throughout the northeast United States have come to trust the Barton & Loguidice name for its engineering expertise and communication driven approach for developing projects that fully meet their clients’ needs and goals while maximizing funding opportunities. This, in part, led to the firm being selected as a recipient of the 6th Annual Premier Award for Client Satisfaction for 2015 based on feedback that B&L clients shared with PSMJ Resources and Client Feedback Tool.
Engineering professionals have a crucial role to play in an ever-changing social and economic landscape. As initiators, implementers and communicators not only for community development and sustainability but also society as a whole, consulting engineering firms bring ideas to life and do not take this commitment lightly. Nor should they.
Engineering firms ensure that basic human needs are met through creative problem solving. Safe drinking water, sanitation, transportation, energy efficiency, landscape architecture, and environmental stewardship are just some of the components of a healthy community. Moreover, proactive, responsible engineering firms improve quality of life, health, welfare and safety of our communities, as Barton & Loguidice, D.P.C. (B&L) is very well aware.
Barton & Loguidice has several office locations in New York – including headquarters in the Syracuse area – and two additional offices in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Originally known as Barton, Brown, Clyde & Loguidice Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors, this leading engineering consultancy firm was established in 1961 and adopted their current name in 1974.
The company’s diverse talents and services extend into sectors that include municipal, commercial, educational, financial, healthcare and industrial. This multi-disciplined approach has created a full spectrum of services, including water and wastewater, transportation, facilities, energy, solid waste, construction, environmental, planning, and landscape architecture services. Their asset management team, which supports the company’s water and wastewater group, is dedicated to helping clients lower the total cost of ownership of assets. The company also assists their clients with obtaining funding for municipal projects, a critical success factor for B&L’s growing presence in municipal water and wastewater.
“Since the firm started in 1961, we’ve looked to build our disciplines to provide more services to our municipal client base,” says Ken Knutsen, P.E., one of the company’s Senior Vice Presidents. Water and wastewater engineering solutions were the company’s primary focus since inception; this remains true today. “We’ve found that, over the years, providing a wide range of services to our municipal clients has allowed us to respond to any problems our clients face and help them forecast future needs in order to be prepared for inevitable changes.”
The company’s Water and Wastewater Group has a staff of fifty experienced engineers, designers, and GIS analysts to address any municipality’s concerns. Ken added, “Right now, it’s a fairly large part of our business.” Water and wastewater projects account for roughly one-third of the company’s revenue.
With their in-house field of skills and expertise Barton and Loguidice can, “sit down with the client at the very beginning and outline all of the steps necessary to get through the project and to overcome any challenges they may have,” says Vice President Eric Pond. “With our in-house ability and in-house knowledge we have the experience to know what it takes to deliver the project; and beyond the completion of the project, to help the client properly operate and maintain their facilities.”
“One thing that differentiates us is our expertise. We not only focus on the project development, but the long-term operation and maintenance of the projects that we work on with our clients,” says Senior Asset Management Consultant Tim Taber. He notes that the asset management team works with clients to establish long-term management strategies to obtain the maximum value from existing and new assets.
Determining which engineering company can take a project from concept to completion is a major consideration for any client. Among the decisions to be made is choosing between quality based selection (QBS) and price based selection (PBS). QBS is the recommended best practice for its emphasis on quality, cost and time savings, safety, fostering of innovation and better communication and business relationships. At least forty-six state governments and all federal agencies adhere to QBS.
Barton & Loguidice strongly supports using QBS because, “getting the most qualified and experienced team is the first step in delivering a successful project, and can ultimately help the client avoid expensive changes or cost overruns,” says Tim. “Knowing from experience what challenges might be encountered on a project is vital.” He also says that Barton & Loguidice has a grounded familiarity with the municipalities in which they operate, giving the company a complete understanding of local government, regulations and funding agencies.
“Certainly, in the world of transportation, QBS is the adopted method in New York state,” he adds. On the water and wastewater side of their services, QBS allows the company “to be creative and innovative in our approaches. Clients typically don’t have a lot of knowledge about the steps for completing a project and need help developing a final vision for a project. So as a consultant, we confer with all stakeholders to fully identify their needs and goals. Preparing our approach to a project allows us to rely on both our creativity and our specific qualifications to set ourselves apart and convey a deep understanding of the project.”
Ken says that B&L’s water and wastewater umbrella also includes asset management experts and fully integrated geographic information system (GIS) services, enabling varied and unique projects. “We do look to integrate those disciplines in what we do,” says Ken. “A lot of our projects, of course, utilize and consider energy conservation and sustainable green infrastructure. So, with that, we’ve incorporated the work of our other groups and facilities, in particular for implementing energy conservation.”
Barton & Loguidice works diligently to consider not only the engineering but also the funding aspects of a project. The company is always looking for funding assistance that may be available to help clients.
“The bottom line is, a project is not feasible if it’s not affordable,” says Eric. “We work with the client to develop a creative approach to structure a project so that it both meets the needs of the community and it’s affordable.”
Tim notes that the company has an innovation committee dedicated to helping employees identify innovative ideas in the services provided to clients and find possible tools to implement those services. “It’s a big part of our culture here at Barton & Loguidice and something that we support. We’re always looking to find continuous improvements in employing new technologies and new ideas, not only for internal operations but primarily to improve the services we’re providing to our customers.”
Barton & Loguidice has a broad range of services available for municipal projects and prides itself on values added to projects by combining services. In addition to the value added to clients’ projects, diverse disciplines and level of staff have made it less vulnerable to macroeconomic challenges.
In fact, this diversification, “has helped us quite a bit to weather the economic downturn of the past several years,” says Ken. When downturns occur, both state and federal governments continue to invest in municipal infrastructure. He explains that when the stimulus package came out under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, the company had several projects that were “shovel ready” and eligible for ARRA funding which had a primary focus of energy efficiency, “green” energy and infrastructure. This then, “opened the opportunities to retain and use our facilities group to secure the energy conservation measures, and within that, move into green infrastructure.”
He notes that many projects take four or five years from concept through commissioning. “We were well positioned with a decent backlog of those types of projects – as well as projects that expanded out over a period of time – that allowed us to weather that storm. It also allowed us to retain the good people that we had on board, as well as hire new talented people, during a period when there were quite a few available.”
Every company knows that monitoring and assessing quality of performance for any given project is essential in developing strong ties with clients. Clients have come to expect collaboration and transparency. “The biggest thing is communication. It’s communicating with the client,” explains Eric. He refers to the QBS process and its importance, relating that communication entails detailing the scope of the project and clearly defining shared expectations for performance and schedule.
“It starts with communication, and it continues with owner involvement throughout the project. We want to stay involved with every project, to keep tabs on every project, and make sure that the project continues to deliver and meet the client’s expectations.”
Barton & Loguidice’s unique niche in smaller communities has garnered the company recognition as a reputable presence for municipal projects. This is a sizeable company, “with a small company feel,” says Ken. “And that goes back to our roots in municipal engineering.”
The company staff lives and works within the communities that they serve – in many cases, it’s the lead staff that attend their municipality’s Board and Planning Board meetings. “The biggest motivating factor for us is the success of the project.” The company has a full-time in-house staff of around 250 during seasonal highs, including summer interns within several disciplines.
Tim notes that Barton & Loguidice is not limited to the U.S. northeast. “We actually work globally with private and public clients all over North America providing Asset Management services.”
Asset management is the optimal selection, maintenance, operation, inspection, and renewal of assets to maintain a desired level of service at the lowest life cycle cost. Asset Management is the science of making the right decisions and optimizing these processes. The company’s concepts and innovations with large clients can be applied, “to tools and other services that we provide to the small communities.”
“A lot of our projects are fairly large, both water distribution and sewer collection systems that will involve hundreds and hundreds of homes which means hundreds of thousands of residents,” says Ken. It is crucial then that all stakeholders’ needs are understood from project initiation so the system is designed for those needs and construction proceeds without a hitch. All projects will have unique challenges, “but I think that we all agree that a large joint water project in the towns of Richland and Sandy Creek, New York, was one of the more challenging and one of the more rewarding that we’ve done.”
Challenging aspects of that project included working with multiple political jurisdictions, obtaining approval of capital expenditures, leveraging funding programs and working with thousands of year-round and seasonal residents along the densely populated shoreline of Lake Ontario. All this leads to, “a lot of moving parts over many years to get everyone aligned in the same direction to move forward and execute the projects. Providing clean water to homes and businesses with a project of this magnitude is both challenging and rewarding.”
As to Barton & Loguidice’s future, the company “has very ambitious growth goals. We believe that we have a very good market share in New York. We have specialized services that are taking us out of state,” says Ken.
He affirms that what Barton & Loguidice represents as an engineering consultancy firm is epitomized in its motto: The experience to listen and the power to solve.