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Saturday, Dec 9, 2023

New Clients, Sectors Send Engineering Revenue Higher

After an ongoing period of instability caused by the pandemic, inflationary pressures and concerns of a recession, engineering firms with operations in OC have marked a return to growth with local billings rising 14% in the year ended June 30.

The 21 companies on this week’s list reported total local billings surpassed $1.3 billion. Last year, the 22 companies on the list reported billings were flat at $1.2 billion, a slowdown from 2021 billings, which rose roughly 3%.

Just two firms on the latest list reported declines from the year prior. Of the eight engineering firms with headquarters in Orange County, seven reported increases in revenue over the past year, while one was flat from the year prior. Those gains averaged 20%.

Local News

The largest increase among local firms came from Irvine-based Salas O’Brien, which reported local billings jumped 82% to $20.4 million, pushing it up four slots to No. 17.

“Our work is all about energy, critical systems infrastructure, clean power, automation and controls. These markets are exploding and will continue to for the next decade,” CEO Darin Anderson said.

The company has been growing through mergers and organic growth from new and repeat clients, the firm told the Business Journal. One such recent merger was the addition of DPB Engineers, which provides electrical engineering for healthcare and data communication facilities.

The deal led to notable projects with Kaiser Permanente, according to Anderson.

One firm dropped off the list this year: tk1sc, which was sold to WSP in 2021. The Irvine-based firm had 120 employees and previously ranked No. 16.

Top Three

Local gains stand in contrast to companywide billings, which fell nearly 17% to $54.6 billion after climbing 5.7% in the year prior.

The perennial leader, Fluor Corp. (NYSE: FLR), doesn’t typically disclose local billings; the Business Journal estimates that figure to be around $300 million.

Projects headed by Fluor’s local office in the past year have ranged in value from a few million to hundreds of millions of dollars each, the company said.

Companywide revenue for the Irving, Texas-based firm jumped 20% during the second quarter to $3.9 billion (see story, page 1).

A boost in local billings for Kansas City, Mo.-based Burns & McDonnell brought a change to the top three firms on the list. The company, which operates in Brea, saw billings nearly double to $149.9 million, pushing it up to No. 2 from No. 5 and sending Dallas-based Aecom one slot lower to No. 3.

It was the largest increase seen on this year’s list.

Burns & McDonnell has seen growth from sectors like data centers, oil and gas and decarbonization and electrification.

“The integrated delivery model of Burns & McDonnell, handling projects from planning and permitting to construction, has served the firm and its clients well,” the company told the Business Journal, adding it has in-house design and construction services and a “talented network of subcontractors.”

The firm is 100% employee-owned.

“Our people-centric culture drives the quality of work to help make our clients successful, and results in our 90% repeat business rate,” the company said.

Companywide billings for Burns & McDonnell rose 14% to $6.7 billion.

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