Embracing the Future

Barton & Loguidice
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

For almost 60 years, Barton & Loguidice (B&L) has provided clients with a range of engineering, environmental, landscape architecture, and planning services. Recognizing a need in the industry for their professional services, four engineers – Ed Barton, Kenneth R. Brown, James E. Clyde, and Frank A. Loguidice – made the bold move of leaving their existing jobs to create their own civil engineering enterprise back in 1961. Although business was slow at first, and necessities like office furniture practically nonexistent, they persevered, staying up many nights to realize their vision.
“They were all working together at another engineering firm in the Syracuse area, and they decided it would be best for them to start their own firm,” says John F. Brusa, Barton & Loguidice’s Chief Executive Officer. “They didn’t have any work when they left the firm. They basically got office space, some sawhorses, made drafting tables, and started marketing.”

Building its foundation on the demand for water and wastewater projects in the 1960s, Barton & Loguidice soon grew and diversified into its other disciplines.

Along with water works – including supply, treatment and distribution, wastewater collection, and management – the company’s services today encompass many other areas, such as municipal planning, solid waste, landscape architecture, environmental, sustainable planning and site design, facilities, transportation, facilities, industrial hygiene, brownfields, construction administration, and funding assistance. With 12 offices, B&L works primarily in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and has taken on projects in more than 26 states.

Growing to meet client needs
With plans to grow, Barton & Loguidice continues to uphold the vision and mission of its founders: to provide exceptional service; to encourage teamwork through a growing dynamic team of professionals; and to achieve inspired solutions for B&L clients. Expanding organically for decades, the company has also been involved in acquisitions on a smaller scale over the past two years. Employing 275 staff members across all locations, much of B&L’s organic growth is the result of the company taking care of its employees and opening its offices with recruitment in mind.

“A lot of it is to create opportunities for our employees,” explains Rich Straut, Principal. “We are looking for growth, not just for growth’s sake. We think we have a great service to provide, and clients like it, so we are really interested in bringing that to other places. By providing the growth, we are providing opportunities for our employees to grow professionally as well.”

Although Barton & Loguidice advertises periodically, attends conferences and participates in industry events, much of its work comes from the professional services it provides and the high degree of technical skills possessed by employees who work with clients on a daily basis. It is, says Straut, a seller-doer mentality: do great work for customers and treat them well, and receive referrals to other potential clients.

Anticipating continued growth to come from a merger and acquisition standpoint, Barton & Loguidice has a reputation for hiring not only the best and brightest in the industry, but employees dedicated to the industry as a whole. Straut has been with the company for 25 years. Some, like Senior Vice President Ken Knutsen, have been a part of B&L for 29 years, and others are on the verge of retirement after 40 years. Success comes from securing the right people, and from the ability to deliver the services their clients expect and deserve.

“On my end, we are looking for people who have the mentality that they want to learn new things, and they want to be involved and take on new challenges,” states B&L Associate Sean C. Sweeney. “You can teach a lot of skills, but it is very hard to instill work ethic and a desire to learn and improve.” With demand for engineers and technical staff at an all-time high, Barton & Loguidice continues to maintain an environment where it is the employer of choice.

Transforming waste into energy
From asset management to building systems, community planning to construction, and solid waste to stormwater management, Barton & Loguidice is seeing growth in every area. “We are constantly looking ahead in every one of our practice areas and seeing what the changes are,” says Straut. “We can’t be stagnant; the world isn’t stagnant, the industries are not stagnant.”

On the water, wastewater, and solid waste side of the business, B&L is active in areas such as resource recovery. By transforming waste into energy, the company’s customers can help offset the expense of maintaining their infrastructure. On the asset management side, B&L is using tools to help clients understand the assets they have, including lifecycle, criticality, and the consequences of failure, to ensure these assets are being managed optimally. “Everybody is really focused on efficiency, and if our clients are focused on efficiency, we are focused on efficiency,” comments Straut. “So those are a couple of areas where we are seeing a lot of growth across the sectors.”

One example of the company’s commitment to the environment is the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility project. With the rise in popularity of yogurt and cheese in recent years, two manufacturers located at the Johnstown Industrial Park kept up demand and produced significant amounts of waste by-products in the process, creating a persistent, unpleasant odor. To combat this, the team at B&L worked to help develop a new and innovative process. By pre-treating the water using the minimal amount of energy – in such a way that there wasn’t a need to build treatment tanks – capital costs were kept low. Recovered organic materials were put into on-site anaerobic digesters so what was considered waste could be transformed into a resource – methane – used to run generators to provide electricity to the treatment plant.

“This is the first treatment plant in New York State that is not only supplying all the electricity they need to run, but they are actually exporting energy into the grid,” says Straut of the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility Project, which saw Barton & Loguidice receive a 2015 Environmental Project of the Year Award in the $5 to $25 Million Category from the New York State Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA).

Environmental and regulatory changes are some of the factors behind B&L seeing more of this type of work, and represent a shift toward treating organic materials as resources rather than waste to be trucked to landfills. Instead of being disposed of, these organics are placed into digesters. Not only does this result in energy, but these types of technologies can be used to transform yogurt and cheese by-products, food, wastewater, and even purposefully-grown agricultural crops into electricity, heat, and transportation fuels such as methane. Some companies are incorporating new fuel options like Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which can be used in place of gasoline but produce significantly lower CO2 emissions than diesel.

Capable of treating up to 13.8 million gallons/day (MGD) of domestic sanitary sewage and industrial wastewater, the GJJWTF is used to treat all wastewater generated by the 25,000 residents of the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown, along with about 24 industries and another 100 users “outside the corporate limits of the two cities.”

Along with the Gloversville-Johnstown project, B&L is currently working on a similar project in Niskayuna, a town in Schenectady County, New York, and helped Niskayuna to partner with a soft drink bottling facility. For years, expired soda was returned to the facility – which has a can-crushing operation – and was dumped down the drain, costing a considerable amount of money and using a lot of energy to have it treated. Through innovation and ingenuity, the expired soda will no longer be disposed, but converted to bioenergy, which in itself will help power the treatment plant. As a result, the cost savings have helped fund the necessary upgrades to the infrastructure, offsetting the energy expense and bringing in tipping fees to the local community so it can pay for the project.

Award-winning work
Approaching every job with enthusiasm, professionalism, and a can-do attitude, the team at Barton & Loguidice continues to cover a range of works. From asset management to site design, community planning to construction, stormwater management to wastewater and many other areas, B&L continues to receive accolades from clients and awards for its many successful projects.

The recipient of hundreds of prestigious awards over its 57-year-long history, Barton & Loguidice’s recent honors include a New York Engineering Excellence Platinum Award in the Environmental Category for the Ithaca Falls Overlook Environmental Restoration and Brownfield Cleanup Project (Tompkins County), awarded by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC NY), along with seven New York high school athletic field projects (developed by B&L’s Landscape Architects) being nominated this year for the Best High School Sports Venue in the Lower Hudson Valley, which was based on high schools offering the best sports experience for student-athletes and fans.

Along with its many other achievements, B&L as a firm has received recent recognition in several areas. B&L was named by the Albany Times Union as one of the Top Workplaces for 2017, and named one of the Best Firms to Work For nationally in the Multi-Discipline category according to Zweig Group in 2018, the industry’s leading research, publishing, and consulting resource for engineering, architecture, planning, and environmental consulting firms. Also recognized by the Zweig Group in 2017 as one of the Top 100 fastest-growing firms in the architecture, engineering and environmental consulting industry in the United States (according to the 2017 Hot Firms List), B&L’s office in Rochester, New York office was designated a Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists, which strives to create safer roads and stronger communities.

Building relationships internally and externally
Responsible for thousands and thousands of successful projects over almost 60 years, Barton & Loguidice has amassed a large portfolio of work in energy and power systems, transportation, industrial, environmental and other areas. Averaging between 1,000 and 1,200 active projects at any one time, duration varies widely depending on the scope of work. Projects can be as short as a single day, while other multi-million-dollar works require eight to 10 years to come to fruition.

“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that if our clients are in need and call us in just to come look at something, we’ll do it,” says Straut. “It may be something that can be done in a day, and we’ve helped them out. And if they have a $30 million or $50 million project we can tackle that too, and it may take three to five years. We worked on a project that was 15 years in the making from the time it was started until the time it was complete a number of years ago.”

For its recognition as one of the Best Firms to Work For by the Zweig Group in 2018, B&L was evaluated as a company overall, looking at areas like benefits, compensation for employees, work/life balance, work environment and more, along with a survey of employees asking for their input. “They get to comment and take a survey on all those different areas,” says Straut, “and we are really proud of it, because a large part of it is from the employees, and they are the ones that basically nominated us, so we are happy. There is a corporate component to the survey and the survey of all the employees, and really that’s what puts you over the top, is the employees’ input.”

Unwavering in its commitment to family core values, which are internal, B&L is equally dedicated to its long-held business core values, namely client satisfaction and efficient project management. This approach continues to work well for the company and its customers. “Our work is client-focused, not necessarily project-focused,” says Sweeney of B&L’s commitment to innovative and impactful projects. “So if the client has a need, you want to be the one-stop shop to help them meet their needs, whether that’s a small project or big project. Big projects come along if you’re doing a good job on their small projects.”

Many of B&L’s works are in the $5 million to $25 million range, often spanning three to five years in duration. Starting with funding – which dictates schedules for projects – B&L works with clients on the application process, the award period, and everything else which needs to happen in advance of design and construction. “We will take on whatever the client needs,” says CEO John F. Brusa. “We’ve done projects for 500 dollars and less sometimes. It’s not necessarily the cost; we’re not trying to limit it to that.”

Investing it its employees continues to pay off huge dividends for B&L. With an atmosphere including flex spaces in newly expanded and renovated offices, locations are accessible to nearby social, recreational, and cultural attractions. Believers in giving back to the community, Barton & Loguidice employees are active fundraisers and participants in charitable and industry-related endeavors.

At B&L, hiring the right people for the job is only part of the company’s formula for long-time success. Fostering an extensive internal learning culture through B&L University – an employee mentoring program and an internal professional development program – along with Bright Lights, an innovation incentive program, B&L capitalizes on its greatest asset: its staff. And through its young professionals group, employees are encouraged to connect to one another and discover through monthly lunch-and-learns, happy hours, and other activities to strike a ‘work-hard play-hard’ balance. Along with on-site technical training and supporting off-site initiates, staff remain current and deepen their existing knowledge base. These initiatives and others represent a significant investment in the company’s workforce and a strong commitment to the future, making Barton & Loguidice truly an employer of choice.

Priding itself on developing projects with client input and transforming them from concept to reality, Barton & Loguidice aims to be at the 300-plus employee mark in the next two years and expand strategically, and with strong business sense. “We want to grow,” states Brusa. “We have our growth projections with staff and revenue, but we want to do it smart. We don’t want to grow just to grow. We want to do it the right way for the long term… We want long-term growth on the right foundation.”



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