Anniversary Profiles

Published on August 18th, 2015 | by UC&D Magazine

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Terracon Celebrates No. 50

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National Firm has had a presence in Utah since 1992; it acquired IHI Environmental in 2013 to boost its service offerings

This year marks the 50th anniversary for Terracon, a major national firm that specializes in environmental, facilities, geotechnical and construction materials testing and inspection services, and one that has had a significant presence in Utah since 1992.
Headquartered in Olathe, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City), Terracon boasts more than 150 offices and 3,500 employees throughout the nation, including current offices in Salt Lake City and Bluffdale. According to Regional Manager Kent Wheeler, that will change come this fall, when the firm consolidates its local offices into one location in Midvale.
“We celebrate our employees and clients this year, many of whom have been with us in Salt Lake City for 23 years,” said Wheeler. “We are also thankful to our clients who have trusted us with their business, communities, and dreams.”
According to Rick Chesnut, a Principal who has been with Terracon since November 2001, the firm allows its local offices to operate as if they were its own entity, but with the resources of a national firm, depending on a project’s needs.
Terracon’s local office has grown immensely since the beginning of the 21st Century, including the timely acquisition of IHI Environmental, Inc. in 2013. IHI had offices in Utah and three other western states, and specialized in industrial hygiene and environmental consulting. Terracon was looking to expand its industrial hygiene services and saw IHI as a natural fit, especially with its strong environmental presence in the Salt Lake
valley.
“Through the years we strengthened our relationships with civil firms, cities, towns, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and other state facilities groups, and were fortunate to continue working with them,” said Chesnut, who is a licensed professional engineer and professional geologist. “We’ve established a strong position in the transportation realm in the valley and do a lot of UDOT projects, from small interchanges and signals to some of the largest design-build projects in the state.”
Chesnut said the firm provided quality assurance (QA)review for all the geotechnical design on the I-15 CORE project, which concluded at the end of
2012, and required the review of more than 400 reports over a three-year period, ensuring consistency in the design.
Terracon’s local offices have contributed to a number of recognizable projects including Salt Lake City Airport Terminal Redevelopment Project (TRP), Utah Dept. of Transportation (UDOT) I-15 CORE Reconstruction and Pioneer Crossing, UTA FrontRunner, TRAX and S-Line Streetcar, and the Tooele Army Depot Chemical incinerator review. Terracon’s Salt Lake City office is also a leading provider of Phase I environmental site assessments (ESAs), Phase II limited site investigations, and industrial hygiene services.
Terracon began as Soil Testing
Services of Iowa, Inc., with Gerald Olson as founder. In 1980, the company was renamed Terracon Consultants, Inc., and became 100 percent employee-owned. David Gaboury, current President and CEO, has led the company to nearly $500 million in revenues over the last 18 years. Additionally, the company has jumped nearly 30 spots in the past 10 years on Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms ranking, rising to No. 35 in 2014.
“This anniversary is about honoring our clients who have put their trust in us,” said Gaboury, “and our employees who work hard every day to give back to their communities. We’re just getting started and are excited for the next 50 years.”
Anniversary activities will take place throughout the year. Terracon’s Salt Lake City office will host a client appreciation event and open house, as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration at their new office location in the fall.
The firm has implemented a new geotechnical reporting format with the intent of making the process more interactive with clients. Chesnut said Terracon prepares the report and then sends it to clients in phases via a webbased application, which allows clients the ability to interact throughout the process.
“We can have discussions with different project aspects, and then go into the second phase of calculations and analysis while having a chance to interact with the client throughout the process,” he said. “It’s a more collaborative approach, and it helps get everybody together on the same page. We think it’s a differentiator for us.”
Kent Wheeler, who serves at Terracon’s Regional Manager, started at IHI 28 years ago, and said the marriage of the two firms locally has been a boon to clients.
“IHI stood out as a small local firm that had a fairly significant presence in the market,” said Wheeler. “The majority of our clients are local, but we now have the ability to call on our resources across the country. We’re currently working on a brownfields project for the City of Salt Lake and our Project Principal is one of the most knowledgeable consultants in the country in regards to brownfields.”
That type of national expertise helped the firm land a contract to provide materials testing and special inspection services at the Salt Lake International Airport Terminal Redevelopment Program (TRP), a project slated to last for a decade. Wheeler said having national experts is invaluable on a project like this.
“There are lots of challenges at the airport,” said Wheeler. “We have a small piece of the project, but it’s integral to everything that is being done. If we don’t get our tests done on time, it would shut a lot of people down. The challenge is making our process match with the speed of the project. We recognize it’s a long-term project and there are times when we’re running fast and times where we won’t be as busy.
Wheeler, whose background is in environmental work, said he enjoys working with Terracon’s clients and employees and helping them solve problems.
“I’m a people person, and I think the success of an office is because of the people in it and how satisfied they are with their jobs and what they like to do,” said Wheeler. “I love to try and take away impediments from them getting their work done. I can’t think of a better place to do business than the Salt Lake valley. We see a lot of work, and a lot of growth potential here.”


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