At GEI, we have a long history of helping clients and communities minimize risk and solve complex challenges. Established in 1970 as Geotechnical Engineers Inc., the firm was founded by five partners who set high standards of technical excellence and client service for all staff. The founders, project managers and staff worked together in the office and in the field, encouraging and motivating each other to work for the high quality and innovative success of our clients. Over the years, GEI has earned widespread recognition for its high quality, innovative and practical solutions to challenging projects. Originally located in Winchester, Massachusetts, GEI now employs 800 staff in 42 offices across the U.S.
GEI’s founders all met when they were attending a graduate program for civil engineers at Harvard University. There, the founders were taught by Arthur Casagrande, a professor and pioneer of geotechnical engineering. After graduating from Harvard, Daniel LaGatta presented the idea of starting a consulting firm to his fellow classmates Ronald Hirschfield, Steve Poulos, and Richard Murdock. At the same time, one of their other classmates Gonzalo Castro, returned from his home in Chile and joined Dan, Dick, Ron and Steve in their efforts to start a consulting firm.
In the summer of 1970, the five opened GEI’s first office in Winchester, Massachusetts.
As GEI continued its organic growth in Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast in the 1970s and into the 1980s, its founding members explored opportunities to expand the firm’s service offerings by adding specialties related to geotechnical engineering. Regions within Massachusetts were growing at a rapid rate, and soil and ground water contamination was becoming a new business area. GEI’s expertise in soils and ground water provided the firm a solid base to enter this emerging field.
GEI’s environmental practice continues to flourish today, having expanded its capabilities nationally.
Building on the firm’s successful dam inspection projects and its relationship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, GEI was engaged by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) to complete dam inspections and assessments throughout the west country. Following the catastrophic failure of the Teton Dam in 1976, USBR passed the Reclamation Safety of Dams Act, requiring an extensive safety inspection process for dams determined to pose high and significant hazards to the public. As a direct result of this engagement, GEI opened a Denver, CO office that was in close proximity to the Reclamation’s Dam Safety Office.
To date GEI has completed over a hundred dam inspection projects for USBR, and GEI’s Denver office remains in operation today, having since expanded its service offerings to include environmental and ecological services.
By the mid-1980s, GEI’s practice area expanded beyond just geotechnical engineering to include environmental and structural engineering. As the firm and its leadership evolved, so did the identity of the firm, leading to the evolution and rebrand of Geotechnical Engineers Inc. to GEI Consultants, Inc.
As part of GEI’s vision to expand and be recognized as a national engineering firm, GEI had its vision set on the West. When the need for an experienced civil/geotechnical engineer presented itself for the looming San Diego County Water Authority’s (SDCWA) Emergency Carryover and Storage Project, GEI accelerated its efforts to expand into Southern California. The project was recently awarded the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award in 2017.
Once engaged by SDCWA, GEI’s Thomas Keller relocated from the firm’s Massachusetts headquarters to lead the project and opening of GEI’s first West coast branch, located in Carlsbad, California. From the project’s inception, GEI’s Carlsbad office grew at a rapid rate, and the high-profile nature of the project helped the office continue to grow its client base.
The Emergency Carryover and Storage project was a 24-year engagement with GEI serving as the Owner’s Engineer, and was led for the entirety of the project by Thomas Keller. The project received national recognition from industry professional organizations and publications.
In addition to the success of the Emergency & Carryover Storage Project, GEI’s Carlsbad office thrives today, promoting a culture of partnership and project success that continues to satisfy clients both old and new in the dam and water resources markets.
GEI Expands Environmental Practice with the Acquisition of Atlantic Environmental
GEI’s founders recognized early on the relation between geotechnical expertise and environmental capabilities, which led to their conscious pursuit to try to strengthen their service offerings in these areas. When GEI began partnering with Atlantic Environmental Services, Inc. in the early 1990’s they recognized the shared collaborative nature the two firm’s and their passion for client success. The partnership led to the eventual agreement for GEI to acquire Atlantic in 1997.
When Atlantic joined GEI, the firm’s capabilities and headcount expanded considerably through the addition of 70 employees and a St. Louis office. The acquisition of Atlantic directly led to GEI’s growth in the Manufactured Gas Plants (MGP) market, where Atlantic had been both nationally and internationally recognized for its expertise. This also established GEI’s initial presence in the mid-west.
To date, GEI has been involved in over 600 MGP site investigations, characterizations, risk assessments and feasibility studies for both utility and industrial clients, and has completed more than 100 MGP site remedial designs.
In 1999, Frank Leathers P.E., F.ASCE, D.GE, was elected President of the firm. As the first non-founder President, Frank led the growth of GEI from a 200 person firm with seven offices to a firm with 500 employees and 30 offices at end of his presidency.
Frank’s respect and good demeanor helped contribute to a collaborative and problem-solving culture at GEI. Frank always sought to make sure that all of GEI’s employees were happy and that they always felt included – traits which he believes are core values which allow companies to grow. Frank’s astute business sense allowed GEI to make strategic acquisitions in the millennium – from the acquisition of Bookman-Edmonston, which diversified GEI’s water resource services, to the acquisition of Chadwick Ecological, which birthed GEI’s ecological practice.
Frank joined GEI in 1974 after receiving both his Bachelors and Master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During his time with GEI he’s been a practicing civil and geotechnical engineer specializing in soil and rock mechanics, geohydrology, and foundation engineering. Prior to serving as President, Frank served as the COO of GEI, a position he served in for two years prior to being elected President.
”Frank’s foresight enabled GEI’s Board of Directors to conduct a thorough and transparent internal leadership transition process. Everyone at GEI appreciates the leadership Frank has provided, particularly to the company culture that he has fostered,” said Senior Vice President Naser Bateni.
GEI Expands Its Water Practice Through The Addition of Bookman-Edmonston
Building on year’s of success in managing Water Resources projects throughout the country and more specifically California, GEI’s leadership recognized the opportunity to further diversify it’s service areas to include added levels of expertise in the water market. From partnering on past projects, and recognizing the cultural similarities and commitment to excellence, Bookman-Edmonston and its 40 people joined GEI.
Bookman-Edmonston brought four decades of experience in large water management, storage, conveyance, and flood control projects. The joining of the two firms created a unified team with broader and deeper expertise and experience in water resource engineering. GEI could now provide its clients with a full range of services that spanned the life of a project, from initial concept, planning, permitting and engineering, on through construction, operation, and maintenance.
The combined vision of the two firms was to create “A future of sustainable water supplies that assures the health and economic well-being of our communities in the natural environment that supports the quality of life that we enjoy.”
GEI Expands Environmental Practice Through the Addition of Chadwick Associates
The acquisition of Chadwick Ecological Consultants and Chadwick Associates broadened GEI’s expertise in the areas of environmental and ecological sciences and added an office in Littleton, Colorado. Chadwick, a full-service ecological consulting firm and biological laboratory, joined GEI with over 30 employees. They brought extensive experience in the design, implementation and management of aquatic studies throughout the United States.
Chadwick Ecological’s experience and expertise in environmental regulatory compliance complimented GEI’s existing water resources and environmental services. By combining engineering and ecological services, GEI could now better serve its clients, their project goals, and overall business objectives.
GEI Expands Consulting Engineering Services in Midwest States
GEI’s foray into the Midwestern part of the country began in 2010 was spurred by the addition of staff and offices in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. Along with Denver Colorado, GEI’s central region achieved high growth and grew to over 100 engineers, scientists, and support staff in just a few years. This diverse group of entry level to senior practitioners served a wide variety of markets including clients in the government, energy, industrial, water, and building sectors. Since then, GEI has continued to expand and strengthen its market presence in the Midwest. This includes the opening of additional offices, acquisition of senior technical experts, and development of new service offerings.
In 2013, FKC merged with GEI to expand GEI’s presence and technical offerings in the New York metropolitan market. FKC’s 80+ years of structural and architectural design services for AEC firms, builders, contractors, developers, owners, and public agencies bolstered GEI’s market presence in Manhattan, Long Island, and Northern New Jersey.
FKC was formed in 1966 as a successor to the firm of Feld and Timoney. Dr. Jacob Feld was the original founder, beginning his engineering practice in 1926. Dr. Feld was internationally recognized for his work in the fields of structural design, soil mechanics, foundations, and structural failure analysis. GEI’s FKC division continues this long tradition of technical expertise.
GEI and FKC shared a very strong common culture along with the expressed core values of client service, high-quality work, and professionalism.
GEI Board of Directors Elects Raymond Hart as President
Raymond Hart became the second non-founding member to be named the President of GEI. Ray led GEI through a period of rapid expansion, overseeing the addition of over 300 staff, including new services lines, geographic offices, and clients. Additionally, his strong vision for the future of GEI led to several key growth initiatives, which delivered and expanded our services to both existing and new clients. He also strengthened the continued evolution of GEI’s culture and guiding principals of client service, technical excellence, collaboration, and mutual respect.
Ray joined GEI in 2003 as leader of the Bookman-Edmonston division, becoming GEI’s COO in 2005. Prior to that he had a long-term career with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) including serving for 25 years as Deputy Director for the 1700 person agency.
In 2014, GEI acquired H2A Environmental, Ltd. an environmental consulting and remediation firm specializing in non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) management, and risk-based remediation and site closure. The acquisition contributed to the growth of GEI’s services in the energy sector and created GEI’s first office presence in Texas.
H2A was founded in 2000 by Mike and Kay Hawthorne. They developed a specialty niche in understanding the distribution, transport, and recoverability of petroleum hydrocarbons. Their services included data analysis, expert testimony, field data collection, pilot studies and full-scale NAPL remediation.
GEI Board of Directors Selects Gillian Gregory as First Woman Chairman
Gillian Gregory became the first woman Chairman of GEI’s Board of Directors and held the position for a two-year term. Her 30 years of service to GEI and her clear commitment to seeing GEI continue to make great strides in innovation and client service helped guide GEI through the next decade. She championed and promoted diversity in the workplace, helping to ensure a diverse workplace for generations to come.
Gill began with GEI in 1986 working out of the Boston office. She is a geotechnical engineer specializing in dam safety investigations and dam engineering. Her experience conducting dam safety inspections, mostly for hydropower projects, has led to an invitation to participate on a committee assisting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the development of new engineering guidelines incorporating risk-informed decision making. Gill earned both a Master of Science degree and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Originally from the United Kingdom, she completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at the UK’s University of Birmingham in 1980.
The acquisition of Bourne Consulting Engineering in 2016 expanded GEI’s coastal engineering and waterfront practice in the Northeast and across the U.S. BCE was founded in 1991 by Ron Bourne to provide waterfront engineering services, including investigation, planning, regulatory approvals/permitting, design, and construction oversight for a variety of structures, including piers, wharfs, bulkheads, ferry terminals, shore protection, and dredging. BCE had distinguished themselves as a leader in the coastal and waterfront engineering sector serving both public and private clients.
GEI experienced rapid growth in the Midwest, gaining momentum in key industries. The acquisition of Inland Seas Engineering broadened GEI’s range of engineering, environmental and natural resources expertise and services, strengthening our presence and operations in Traverse City and northern Michigan. With the addition of Inland Seas Engineering, GEI gained a team of experienced and dedicated staff in a key region of interest.
GEI Board of Directors Elects Ron Palmieri as President
Ron Palmieri became the third non-founder to be named GEI’s President. Ron joined the firm in 2010 to lead the startup of GEI’s Midwest Region, where he served as regional manager and managed the rapid growth and integration of the region into GEI. In 2013, he was named to his current position as chief operating officer. As COO, Ron played an instrumental role in leading the firm to successive years of growth and profitability, culminating with the firm reaching its highest annual revenue and number of employees in its history.
Ron earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his MBA from the Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School at DePaul University. Ron has more than 30 years of consulting and client management experience in geotechnical and pavement engineering and construction services, as well as operational leadership and management, strategic planning, and risk management.
GEI Expands Its Transportation and Civil Practice Through The Addition of Hayden Consultants
The acquisition of Hayden Consultants Inc. in 2018 expanded GEI’s civil and transportation practice. Hayden, a transportation and civil engineering consulting firm was founded in 2000 by Rachel Hayden. The addition of Hayden strengthens GEI’s operations in Texas by bringing significant strength in the transportation, infrastructure and water resources market sectors to GEI.
GEI Expands Its Environmental And Ecological Practice Through The Addition of Savanta
The acquisition of Savanta, Inc., an Ontario-based environmental and ecological services firm furthers GEI’s growth in the Canadian Market. Savanta was founded in 2006 by Tom Hilditch and provides design services to public, private and First Nations clients.