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Merrick: Firm Grows In Spite of Economy

March 23, 2009

Aurora, Colorado –Merrick & Company, www.merrick.com, an $85 million engineering, architecture, and mapping firm is bucking the harsh downturn statistics and will post excellent gains in spite of the economy. As the firm finishes up its fiscal year on March 31, Merrick will have experienced 20% growth, both in staffing and revenue. Not affected by the year’s dour economy and current 2009 market conditions, the firm hired over 100 employees in the past ten months and opened three new offices, one each in Tennessee, Texas, and Mexico. Those statistics have Merrick headed for its best year ever in the firm’s 55-year history, and even with the growth, the firm still has more than 20 staff positions to fill, primarily in engineering.

Merrick’s growth hasn’t happened by chance. According to Ralph W. Christie, Jr., PE, president and chief executive officer, “The impetus behind a firm’s ability to succeed in a tight economy lies in being able to look at the big picture, yet be nimble within that view to adjust programs to meet ongoing external and internal impacts on the business.”

“In addition, we’re determined to keep ourselves aligned with what’s happening in our world and deliver value. We plan our strategies, solve our clients’ problems, and stay on our toes to be successful,” says Christie. “Especially in today’s economy, we’re continually pulsing the ever-changing needs of our client base and specific target markets in order to acquire the latest intelligence on the market conditions that are impacting clients. You have to know what’s happening in the market, identify the optimum market sectors to be in, then provide top value to those sectors.”

For example, in anticipation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus package funds, Merrick is ready.

According to Dave Huelskamp, senior vice president at Merrick, “We’re finding ourselves well-positioned for the work that comes out of the stimulus package in three ways. First, we have existing Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts in place, nationwide, that will allow us to move forward quickly to meet the demands of the program. Second, we’ve been actively talking with our clients about the potential funding and projects so they know what contracting vehicles we have in place and that we’re ready to meet their needs at a moment’s notice. Third, a part of Merrick’s capabilities are in construction management, so we’re prepared to immediately participate in the shovel-ready projects while the other projects are being defined and designed.”

Christie continues on the strategies that have made Merrick successful, “We clearly identify our target market sectors, then help our clients be more competitive in their market space. Thus, our strategy focuses on allocating both our people and financial resources to those markets that are providing the greatest opportunities for our clients.”

“For example, Merrick is involved in the planning, design, and construction of biomass/cellulosic feedstock-to-fuel grade ethanol in the growing energy market,” according to Christie. “We’re involved in new forms of biomass feedstock, such as algae, to various biofuels and involved in clean energy projects, including nuclear. Those markets require specialized expertise and we’re committed to delivering it.”

Another of the firm’s strategies in today’s environment, as well as being a long-standing commitment of the firm, is Merrick’s willingness to take on clients’ tough problems. While many firms shy away from the financial risks of complex projects, especially in economically challenging times, Merrick continues a significant workload in technically complex and challenging work such as the designing and commissioning of complex laboratories that tackle significant problems such as chronic waste disease, mad cow disease, and SARS.

In a down market, it’s important to limit the firm’s exposure while maintaining overall growth patterns according to Christie. Diversification provides the solution for Merrick; diversification in both market sectors and geographic locations.

According to Christie, the firm uses a “six-cylinder engine”, where the firm diversifies its services over six different markets. These include the renewable and alternative energy market; the technology systems market of nuclear science and nuclear technology engineering; the military and government market; the life sciences market with high containment research facilities in agriculture, plant, and health research; the geospatial mapping market, both nationally and internationally; and, lastly, the civil infrastructure market for both the public and private sectors. All of these sectors were carefully selected for long-term growth and opportunity, then financially supported by the firm to build its foothold in each.

The firm has also purposely balanced their office locations, geographically, in order to take advantage of and protect the firm from regional economic fluctuations. And, in expanding geographically through their three new offices, the firm doesn’t take risks just in order to grow. Offices are only opened when the resources are there to sustain operations and add value to clients. The San Antonio, Texas; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Mexico City, Mexico offices all began their start-up with new and existing contracts that will provide continued growth for those offices over a considerable timeframe. It’s not just growth for growth’s sake.

The business strategy has paid off and, as the economy moves towards improvement, those strategies, put in place today, will help to position the firm for success in the future.


Information provided by Merrick & Company
Merrick’s professional services include engineering, architecture, construction management, design-build of technology systems, and geospatial solutions, with services being provided to local, regional, national, and international clients in energy, life sciences research laboratories, infrastructure, water resources, public works, government, and geospatial/mapping markets. The firm maintains offices in Aurora, CO; Albuquerque, NM; Los Alamos, NM; Atlanta and Duluth, GA; Ottawa, Canada; Oak Ridge, TN; San Antonio, TX, and Guadalajara and Mexico City, Mexico.

More information on available positions at Merrick & Company can be found at:
www.merrick.com/index.php/careercenter.