2 min read July 2022 — McKim & Creed is an employee-owned engineering and surveying firm of people helping people. In an interview with Invest:, President and CEO Street Lee discussed infrastructural needs, partnerships, regional growth, legislative changes, innovations and the outlook for the near future.
What part do you play when it comes to addressing infrastructural needs that exist due to the influx of businesses and people into the area?
We are a multi-disciplined engineering and surveying firm that helps our clients solve complex infrastructure challenges. This includes markets such as transportation, energy, water and wastewater infrastructure, healthcare, schools and universities as well as large-scale land development projects.
As Raleigh continues to grow, there are several infrastructure challenges that need to be addressed. It is important to note that while infrastructure expansion is necessary to support this region’s growth, the rehabilitation and replacement of aging infrastructure is also vital to protecting the health of surrounding businesses and residents. McKim & Creed’s ability to provide solutions for both new and aging infrastructure is what sets our firm apart from our competitors.
What are some of the partnerships that you are invested in?
We partner with our clients, working collaboratively to develop solutions to meet their infrastructure challenges. We also collaborate with many other business partners to deliver solutions to complex issues in the region. A few examples of regional partners include O’Brien/ Atkins Associates, Boomerang Design and BSA LifeStructures.
Our firm’s mantra is “people helping people.” This encompasses our drive to give back to the communities where we live and work. Our employee-owners give back by donating their personal time and money to local organizations such as Bike MS, local stream restorations, Goodwill Farm and Habitat for Humanity, to name a few.
How has the in-migration of people and business to the Triangle affected your daily operations?
The southeast is among the fastest-growing areas within the U.S. We feel very fortunate to have offices in several locations currently listed among the fastest growing cities – including Raleigh-Durham. As these areas grow, we are seeing an increased need for solutions in transportation to ease traffic congestion, water and wastewater infrastructure, housing and more. It is an exciting time to be in the AEC industry and support the infrastructure demands our clients and communities need.
What legislative changes are currently on your radar?
Our need to fund the improvement of America’s infrastructure is long overdue. We are continuing to monitor the impacts of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the funding resources available through the American Rescue Plan Act. On the regulatory front, we are working with our water and wastewater infrastructure clients as they address lead & copper rule requirements issued by the EPA. In our backyard, our renewable energy team is monitoring the impacts of the North Carolina Clean Air Act and EO 246 which focuses on the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
What are the different ways you specifically address environmental concerns?
I may regret sharing this detail, but I have been in this business for almost 40 years. Throughout my entire career, I personally as well as my colleagues have always considered the impact on the environment as well as the sustainability of the projects we design and build. This includes infrastructure longevity and reliability, impacts on the environment, energy consumption and water quality. Over the course of my career, one thing I have appreciated is the evolution of technology. This has certainly improved our efficiency to ensure we are always improving the quality of life and increasing the prosperity and sustainability of our communities.
What are some of those innovations that are increasing in popularity for your operations?
McKim & Creed is committed to the investment of technology advancing the applications and cost-effectiveness of solutions for our clients. As an employee-owned firm, we have an entrepreneurial culture and, in many instances, we have been at the forefront of several technologies. We recently designed an onsite ecological water reclamation treatment facility capable of reclaiming over 400,000 gpd and reducing overall demands on a water-stressed region. Our recent investment in the NavVis mobile mapping system improves the quality and speed of our data collection for our clients.
What are your priorities for the upcoming year and your overall outlook for the industry?
In 2019 we prepared our 2025 strategic plan which details our plan to drive innovative solutions for our clients and develop a culture in which top talent in the industry aspire to work. We are seeing unprecedented competition to attract and retain talented employees, and we are working hard to recognize and support our current employees while communicating our unique company culture to attract other talented professionals. This includes improving our business systems and policies to address the changing needs of our clients and our employees.
The construction and engineering industry is continuing to experience impacts on delivery times and costs. We have seen situations where our clients and owners cannot get the same result for the same dollar value they could years ago, which has an overall impact on their budgets.
Technology and innovation are integral to the solutions we provide our clients, and technological advancement is critical to our day-to-day operations. Some of the challenges that we have experienced have made us realize the need to automate processes, improve our efficiencies and allow us to strive to do more with less. It is also part of a survival strategy to maintain this mindset. We are on track to grow from $111 million in revenue last year to $200 million over that time frame. We want to continue to grow our business and provide opportunities for our people.
Providing an outlook on the future of our industry is difficult, for sure. Halfway through 2022, there is uncertainty in the general economy and markets we serve, but our workload is as strong as it has ever been and the market condition in the Triangle is robust. Our outlook for our business is equally optimistic. We do expect certain areas of the economy to slow, but also anticipate continued activity in infrastructure, renewables, healthcare and education in the coming years.
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