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MEP Giants 2010

In 2010, engineering firms focus on energy-efficiency initiatives this year, while investing heavily in the continued development of their in-house engineers.
By Patrick Lynch, Project Manager October 18, 2010

Download the official 2010 MEP Giants poster in PDF form by clicking on the image to the right.

Over the past three years, Consulting-Specifying Engineer (CSE) has spent considerable time surveying and analyzing its mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) and fire protection firms to create MEP Giants data. These efforts have not been in vain—we asked participating firms the same questions each year, so we now have three years of data available to analyze and identify trends in the marketplace.

From June to September, engineering firms responded to a request for information from the CSE staff. Not all firms were willing and able to participate in this year’s MEP Giants survey. Our results and data are based on the companies who responded to the survey, and they provide a snapshot of the industry as a whole.

The 2010 MEP Giants amassed $3.24 billion in MEP design revenue—not a number to sneeze at in today’s economy. The total company revenue for the MEP Giants firms amounted to $17.42 billion during the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Table 1 shows the top 10 MEP Giants firms based on MEP design revenue, which is how CSE MEP Giants are officially ranked. The complete table of rankings is available at www.csemag.com/giants

Table 1: Top 10 MEP Giants based on MEP design revenue

Firm name

Ownership type: (public, private, employee owned)

Total gross revenue for fiscal year ($ million)

Total MEP design revenue ($ million)

URS Corp.

Public

 $  9,249.00

 $  780.00

Burns & McDonnell

Employee-owned

 $  1,097.00

 $  592.00

Parsons Brinckerhoff

Public

 $  2,069.92

 $  145.00

Stantec Inc.

Public

 $  1,337.48

 $  144.20

HDR Architecture Inc.

Employee-owned

 $      344.70

 $  127.50

Syska Hennessy Group

Employee-owned

 $        93.30

 $     93.30

SSOE Group

Private

 $      125.38

 $     87.77

Affiliated Engineers Inc. (Private)

Private

 $        86.74

 $     76.88

The Benham Companies LLC (Benham)

Private

 $      275.65

 $     60.64

Henderson Engineers Private $ 57.20 $ 54.20

This year’s MEP Giants list is 19 firms smaller than last year’s list; part of the reason for the list’s contraction is the continued mergers and acquisitions activity in the engineering and construction market. Twenty-one percent of this year’s MEP Giants firms were involved in some type of mergers and acquisitions activity during the 2009-2010 fiscal year, and that number does not appear likely to shrink anytime soon.

Diversity among the Giants

When filling out the MEP Giants survey, participating engineering firms must quantify what percentage of their revenue is attributable to what type of project; project types include new construction, renovation/retrofit, maintenance/repair/operation, or commissioning. CSE then catalogued the data by totaling the number of firms in each percentage breakdown. When comparing the 2009 MEP Giants data on distribution of revenue across project types, several interesting trends appeared:

  • 67% have 31% to 75% of revenue coming from new construction (up 2% from 2009 and up 15% from 2008)
  • 59% have 31% to 75% of revenue coming from retrofits/renovations (up 6% from 2009 and up 5% from 2008)
  • 55% are involved in maintenance/repair/operations (MRO) (down 2% from 2009, but up 22% from 2008)
  • 71% are involved in commissioning (up 10% from 2009 and 29% from 2008).

In last year’s article, we talked about how this year’s new construction market would continue to struggle, as evidenced by the slight 2% rise in revenue associated with new construction projects. Seventy-nine percent of the 2010 MEP Giants indicated that the economy’s impact on the construction market was the biggest corporate challenge faced during the previous fiscal year.

Green projects and LEED

During the troubled economic times of 2008 and 2009, the inflated construction market needed to refocus on making buildings and their systems last longer, perform more efficiently, and provide greater return on investment. The 2010 MEP Giants numbers support this trend demonstrated by the 6% increase in retrofits/renovations and the 10% increase in commissioning projects. As the new construction market continues the glacial climb out of the historic depths of the previous few years, the silver lining during the return to normalcy might be engineers rededicating themselves to improving the vast amount of existing buildings that perform inefficiently.

Even with 19 fewer firms than last year, the 2010 MEP Giants submitted more projects for U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED certification. The 2010 Giants submitted 1,499 projects for LEED certification and 231 projects for the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR Buildings Label. The number of projects submitted for the EPA Energy Star Buildings Label continues to fall from year to year, begging the question: “What is the future of the EPA ENERGY STAR Buildings Label program?”

Employment

The increased focus on energy efficiency and sustainable building practices fuels engineering firms’ desire to hire or train engineers well-versed in environmental engineering and green building technologies. According to the National Employment Matrix developed by the

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 1.6 million engineers hold jobs in the United States. The second-fastest-growing engineering title according to the BLS is environmental engineering, with a projected 31% increase in the level of employment by 2018.

In the 2008 MEP Giants article, CSE reported that there were 51,452 LEED Accredited Professionals (AP) in the United States and that year, the firms employed 4,042 of them. In 2010, according to the LEED Professional Directory on the Green Building Certification Institute’s website, which administers the LEED AP exam, there are 117,735 LEED APs in the United States. The more than 128% increase in the number of LEED APs in less than two years demonstrates the value energy-efficient building practices have in the construction marketplace. The number of LEED APs is a good indicator of a firm’s commitment to the green market because there are costs associated with preparing for and taking the LEED AP exam. However, the numbers alone do not tell the whole story about how green a firm is or how well a firm performs on green projects. Even though not every LEED AP is an engineer or vice versa, the rapid rise of LEED APs is a trend difficult to overlook.

The 2010 MEP Giants employ more than 26,000 engineers across the United States and Canada, including more than 3,200 engineers with LEED AP certification. Table 2 shows the top 10 mechanical, electrical, and plumbing employers from the 2010 Giants rankings.

Table 2: Top 10 MEP employers

Firm name

How many full-time engineers does your firm have on staff?

Mechanical engineers

Electrical engineers

Plumbing engineers

Fire protection engineers

Other engineers

How many engineers are LEED APs?

URS Corp.

           8,842

983

         1,309

364

              81

6105

           411

Parsons Brinckerhoff

           5,633

975

817

n/a

n/a

3841

112

Stantec Inc.

           2,215

227

281

97

5

1605

324

Burns & McDonnell

           1,192

265

385

0

0

542

149

STV Group Inc.

740

74

51

2

10

603

56

Gannett Fleming Inc.

667

20

53

2

2

607

18

Middough Inc.

447

121

59

19

3

245

6

POWER Engineers

430

65

219

0

0

146

n/a

The Benham Companies LLC (Benham)

385

89

56

n/a

6

234

29

Henderson Engineers Inc.

367

155

132

19

43

18

96

Mentoring and continuing education

The 2010 MEP Giants data show that engineering firms are investing in their in-house engineers and staff more than ever before. Investing time and money in the continued professional development of their engineers is an investment these firms are willing to make, but the investment rewards both the firm and the engineer. Individually, the engineer receives continued professional development in the form of certifications (PE LEED AP, RCDD, NTS, LC, etc.), along with paid membership to societies and associations within his or her field. Collectively, the firms are rewarded for this investment by increasing the amount and complexity of

projects they can perform because their engineers now have various levels of certification and specialties.

When asked, “What educational and mentoring program does your firm offer its engineering staff?” the 2010 MEP Giants responded as follows:

  • 95% offer informal internal mentoring (such as brown bag lunches)
  • 92% offer paid membership to societies               
  • 96% offer paid attendance to conferences/tradeshows
  • 92% allow their engineers to attend webcasts during business hours
  • 83% purchase e-learning courses/materials
  • 79% offer tuition reimbursement for college/university courses/degrees
  • 93% offer paid training and testing leading to professional certifications.

Fire protection firms

CSE asked the firms to identify the number of fire protection engineers that were currently at the firm. The results are summarized in Table 3, which shows the 10 firms with the largest number of fire protection engineers.

Table 3: Top 10 fire protection engineering firms

Firm name

Fire protection engineers

MEP Giants Rank

URS Corp.

81

1

Henderson Engineers Inc.

43

10

M/E Engineering P.C.

25

20

R. G. Vanderweil LLP

16

26

Environmental Systems Design Inc.

11

17

STV Group Inc.

10

25

RDK Engineers

9

27

EwingCole

8

29

PWI Engineering

8

67

The Benham Companies, LLC (Benham)

6

9

Commissioning services

CSE asked the firms to identify the percentage of their MEP design revenue that was attributable to commissioning (Cx) services or projects. CSE then ranked the top 10 firms based on the highest amount of revenue attributable to Cx services or project.

See Commissioning on the Rise.

Retrofit/renovation

CSE asked the firms to identify the percentage of their MEP design revenue that was attributable to retrofit/renovation projects. CSE then ranked the top 10 firms in Table 4 based on the highest amount of revenue attributable to retrofit/renovation projects.

Table 4: Top 10 firms based on retrofit/renovation project revenue

Firm name

Total gross revenue for fiscal year ($ million)

Total MEP design revenue ($ million)

Retrofit/renovation percentage

Retrofit/renovation ($ million)

URS Corp.

 $  9,249.00

 $  780.00

40%

 $  312.00

Burns & McDonnell

 $  1,097.00

 $  592.00

50%

 $  296.00

HDR Architecture Inc.

 $     344.70

 $  127.50

70%

 $    89.25

Syska Hennessy Group

 $        93.30

 $     93.30

50%

 $    46.65

Parsons Brinckerhoff

 $  2,069.92

 $  145.00

25%

 $    36.25

Henderson Engineers Inc.

 $        57.20

 $     54.20

55%

 $    29.81

KJWW Engineering Consultants

 $        48.53

 $     40.91

60%

 $    24.55

The Benham Companies LLC (Benham)

 $     275.65

 $     60.64

33%

 $    20.01

Cannon Design

 $     171.61

 $     53.00

35%

 $    18.55

Environmental Systems Design Inc.

 $        36.10

 $     36.10

48%

 $    17.33

Maintenance/repair/operation

CSE asked the firms to identify the percentage of their MEP design revenue that was attributable to maintenance/repair/operation projects. CSE then ranked the top 10 firms in Table 5 based on highest amount of revenue attributable to MRO services or projects.

Table 5: Top 10 firms based on maintenance/repair/operation project revenue

Firm name

Total gross revenue for fiscal year ($ million)

Total MEP design revenue ($ million)

MRO percentage

MRO revenue ($ million)

URS Corp.

 $  9,249.00

 $      780.00

20%

 $  156.00

Burns & McDonnell

 $  1,097.00

 $      592.00

10%

 $    59.20

Parsons Brinckerhoff

 $  2,069.92

 $      145.00

25%

 $    36.25

Optimation Technology Inc.

 $        32.00

 $        24.00

50%

 $    12.00

SSOE Group

 $     125.38

 $        87.77

10%

 $       8.78

The Benham Companies LLC (Benham)

 $     275.65

 $        60.64

11%

 $       6.67

X-nth

 $        51.93

 $        51.93

12%

 $       6.23

Syska Hennessy Group

 $        93.30

 $        93.30

50%

 $       4.67

Sebesta Blomberg

 $        32.11

 $        32.11

14%

 $       4.50

Middough Inc.

 $        95.00

 $        42.00

10%

 $       4.20

Source of clients

CSE asked the firms to identify the type of client or source of their work during the 2009-2010 fiscal years. The percentages of where the work comes from for the MEP Giants are broken down in Figure 1.

Software used

CSE asked the firms to indicate what types of software the firm used during the design and testing phase of any project. The percentages of use for software are displayed in Figure 2.

Conclusion and methodology

CSE interviewed several of the top 20 MEP Giants firms and asked their corporate leadership to provide some insight into next year. The interview topics included trends for 2011, internal growth at the firm, replacing veteran engineers, building types that will provide the most work in 2011, and how energy-efficiency codes will continue to shape the business.

See View From the Top


For more information on MEP Giants 2010 go to www.csemag.com/giants

Related MEP Giants 2010 articles:

[Commissioning on the Rise]

[Slow Recovery Slated]

[View From the Top]

[Consolidation Nation]