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U.S. engineering firms set sail for foreign ports

Other E/EA Giants 300 firms are just dipping their toes into foreign waters, still looking for international business but choosing not to establish additional offices.

July 18, 2012 |
The Past Worlds Terrace at the Natural History Museum of Utah, a $103 million, 1

Engineering firms and engineering/architecture firms—those that earn more than 50% of their revenues from engineering—have their sights set on foreign shores. Many are jumping headfirst into international waters.

“Instead of overseeing projects from New York, our firm has established offices in Mumbai, Moscow, and other cities outside North America, aiming to overcome the challenge of navigating the local landscape or hiring practices, tax law, and business practices,” says Thomas Z. Scarangello, PE, CEO and Chairman of EA Giant Thornton Tomasetti.

Other firms are just dipping their toes into foreign waters, still looking for international business but choosing not to establish additional offices. Brad Harmsen, AIA, Chairman/CEO of BRPH, says that although his firm is actively working in locales across the globe, they’re partnering with domestic firms to do so, partly because of “the learning curve that comes when working with different currencies and legalities.”


Shanghai and Dubai are hot spots for E and EA Giants these days. Glumac, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, and Syska Hennessy Group have opened or expanded their offices in Shanghai. KJWW and Syska Hennessy opened new offices in Dubai. Thornton Tomasetti bucked the trend and opened offices in Beijing and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, while Arup Americas opened new offices in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, just in time for soccer’s World Cup in 2014.

Establishing an office abroad is one thing; getting the business is something entirely different. Referring specifically to the Middle East, Paul VanDuyne, PE, president of KJWW, says, “It takes approximately two years to develop the appropriate relationships, name recognition, and reputation to be successful in obtaining projects in this region.”

Despite the difficulties, an increasingly large share of engineering Giants’ yearly revenue is coming from international projects. Magnusson Klemencic President Ron Klemencic, PE, SE, says that 20-30% of MKA’s gross revenue comes from international business, while KJWW anticipates that 10% of its 2013 revenue will come from international projects. Syska Hennessy Group’s goal is to beef up its international activity by 25% over the next five years.


Beyond establishing an international presence, technology is also a crucial differentiator for E and EA Giants firms.

Syska Hennessy Group’s new Information and Communications Technology group is offering an expanded scope of services for organizations looking to upgrade their IT platforms with the latest technologies. “Our new offerings include tools and expertise to apply virtualization of existing client environments, data center relocation management, disaster recovery and IT security services, and network and Internet/intranet design and implementation,” said Co-CEO/Co-president Cyrus J. Izzo, PE.

Thornton Tomasetti launched a new Building Sustainability practice in January and now offers LEED consulting and administration, energy and daylight modeling, and sustainable business strategies. The firm also has an advanced computational modeling team; it leverages new technologies by developing custom digital tools that utilize generative and parametric modeling, which enables its engineers to collaborate more effectively with architects in the early phases of design.


New financing solutions are also playing a part in E/EA Giants’ business strategies. With the U.S. construction market still in recovery, alternative financing methods are being sought out to help clients put together the dollars they need to complete projects.

At Syska Hennessy Group, public-private partnerships are on the radar. “We are observing an increase in P3 projects across geographies and market sectors,” said Syska Hennessy Group’s Izzo. “The first building being delivered as a true P3 is the Long Beach courthouse in California, which will top out this summer.”

Others are bringing on experts to find the money. Graef hired an economic development specialist, Ronald Van Straten, who has more than 25 years’ experience in helping mostly municipal clients seek grants, low-cost loans, and other funding streams for their capital projects, including tax increment financing.


As is true of most of the categories in our Giants 300 rankings, there is a great deal of concentration at the highest level in the E and EA markets. The top 10 engineering firms generated 47% of total revenue for the category, while the top 10 engineering/architecture Giants generated a hefty 85% of the dollars in their group. +


Rank Company 2011 Total Revenue ($)
1 Fluor Corp. 220,674,900
2 Arup 140,324,134
3 WSP USA 98,900,000
4 Syska Hennessy Group 98,744,701
5 Affiliated Engineers 92,815,000
6 KPFF Consulting Engineers 89,000,000
7 Henderson Engineers 61,266,000
8 AKF Group 58,100,000
9 TTG/TMAD Taylor & Gaines 56,820,300
10 Smith Seckman Reid 53,497,000
11 R.G. Vanderweil Engineers 49,823,500
12 KJWW Engineering Consultants 43,784,892
13 Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers 40,100,000
14 Coffman Engineers 37,200,000
15 TLC Engineering for Architecture 36,387,033
16 Degenkolb Engineers 35,398,917
17 Sebesta Blomberg 35,120,000
18 ESD/Environmental Systems Design 34,465,000
19 Rolf Jensen & Associates 34,300,000
20 Walter P Moore 34,231,775
21 RMF Engineering 34,005,000
22 Glumac 33,010,927
23 Magnusson Klemencic Associates 32,306,973
24 RDK Engineers 30,882,000
25 Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch 28,836,967
26 Aon Fire Protection Engineering 28,200,000
27 Birdsall Services Group 27,500,000
28 Interface Engineering 25,938,485
29 M/E Engineering 25,915,000
30 ccrd partners 24,100,000
31 H.F. Lenz Co. 22,799,000
32 Heapy Engineering 21,402,816
33 Sparling 20,589,847
34 ThermalTech Engineering 19,890,000
35 KCI Technologies 19,761,000
36 Newcomb & Boyd 18,454,021
37 Henneman Engineering 18,000,000
38 Bridgers & Paxton Consulting Eng. 17,650,492
39 GHT Limited 17,363,705
40 Eaton Energy Solutions 16,694,769
41 Rutherford & Chekene 16,538,000
42 Dunham Associates 15,500,000
43 Joseph R. Loring & Associates 15,000,000
44 Wallace Engineering 13,780,000
45 James Posey Associates 13,500,000
46 KLH Engineers 12,559,382
47 Lilker Associates Consulting Engineers 12,500,000
48 Karpinski Engineering 12,343,996
49 P2S Engineering 11,896,229
50 RMH Group, The 11,864,683
51 Peter Basso Associates 10,400,000
52 Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering 10,039,000
53 French & Parrello Associates 9,782,762
54 Bala Consulting Engineers 9,360,000
55 Allen & Shariff 8,610,036
56 Wick Fisher White 7,821,928
57 Brinjac Engineering 7,342,166
58 CTLGroup 6,030,000
59 O’Dea, Lynch, Abbattista Consulting Engineers 5,900,000
60 FBA Engineering 4,000,000
61 Kamm Consulting 3,681,775
62 Apogee Consulting Group 2,485,000
63 G&W Engineering 2,058,000



Rank Company 2011 Total Revenue ($)
1 Jacobs 2,699,100,000
2 AECOM Technology Corp. 1,487,000,000
3 M+W U.S. 1,015,199,252
4 Stantec  463,300,000
5 Parsons Brinckerhoff 311,300,000
6 URS Corp. 294,100,000
7 exp 205,000,000
8 Science Applications International Corp. 185,390,000
9 Merrick & Co. 111,000,000
10 Day & Zimmermann 109,909,604
11 SSOE Group 107,819,740
12 STV 104,876,000
13 Thornton Tomasetti 98,017,214
14 Burns & McDonnell 94,711,826
15 Dewberry 89,282,766
16 Michael Baker Jr., Inc. 80,730,000
17 Middough 75,750,000
18 Clark Nexsen 68,424,208
19 Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates 64,080,000
20 Simpson Gumpertz & Heger 59,170,000
21 AKF Group 58,100,000
22 H&A Architects & Engineers 39,064,020
23 Walker Parking Consultants 34,422,898
24 BRPH 31,500,000
25 Bergmann Associates 30,700,000
26 Shive-Hattery 28,192,943
27 Atkins North America 23,620,537
28 Ross & Baruzzini 20,377,769
29 Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon 20,100,000
30 Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor 18,300,000
31 Guernsey 18,293,701
32 L.R. Kimball 17,759,000
33 GRAEF-USA 16,770,180
34 Zak Companies 12,335,494
35 CJL Engineering 12,228,000
36 Stanley Consultants 10,892,000
37 Spectrum Engineers 8,828,890
38 GRW 6,290,216
39 Davis, Bowen & Friedel 4,680,714
40 Vintage Archonics 1,972,220
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