It took 100 years, but Black & Veatch has opened a Chattanooga office.
The Overland Park, Kan.-based engineering, consulting and construction firm, which was founded in 1915 and has more than 100 offices worldwide, recently set up a seven-employee shop at 6111 Shallowford Road in an office park near Highway 153 that's got a high percentage of medical and financial firms as tenants.
Black & Veatch has its sights set here on regional hydropower generators as potential customers, including the Tennessee Valley Authority and Duke Energy, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.
"It's a very good central location to power clients across the Southeast," said Jay Anders, who leads the Chattanooga office and is the regional director of hydropower and hydraulic structures at Black & Veatch.
TVA in December hired Black & Veatch as the engineer of record responsible for the design and quality assurance of a fast-track project to repair seepage through the foundation of the Boone Dam between Johnson City, Tenn. and Kingsport, Tenn.
In October 2014, a sinkhole was discovered near the base of the embankment at Boone Dam, TVA said, which was built in the early 1950s on the original channel of the South Holston River. Water and sediment were found seeping from the riverbank below, TVA said. Since internal erosion is one of the leading causes of dam failures worldwide, TVA staff and external experts took temporary risk reduction measures, including lowering the water level in Boone Lake to roughly 10 feet below winter pool levels.
"Their skill-set was considered the right match for the Boone project," TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said.
TVA regularly uses outside engineering firms for specific projects, he said.
"Our engineers were the ones that developed the original repair plan," Hopson said. "The issue is, when you're dealing with a long-term project like this, you want to have the right number of people totally focused on one project as opposed to having to divert their attention to the multiple facilities that TVA has around the valley. So we find it advantageous to supplement our own engineering team."
Black & Veatch looks to grow by doubling its $3.6 billion in annual sales, Anders said, by 2020.
With 10,285 workers, Black & Veatch was the 11th-largest employee-owned U.S. company in 2015 (the largest was Publix Super Markets), according to the National Center for Employee Ownership.
"It's pretty wonderful," Anders said of working for an employee- owned engineering firm. "The level of ownership here is better than any place I've ever been."
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