Specialty: Natural resources and planning, environmental services, geotechnical engineering, water resources, materials testing, construction special inspection
Management: Douglas A. Smith, regional vice president based in Portland
Year founded: 1974
Headquarters: Toronto (North America), London (world)
Current projects: Issaquah Highlands master-planned community; projects at Sea-Tac International Airport; ex-situ glass vitrification at Hanford Nuclear Reservation; Seattle to Tukwila segment of the Central Link Light Rail


The former Shapiro & Associates’ staff is doing projects in far-flung places, four months after AMEC bought the Seattle natural resource consulting firm.

DeBeers is tapping into the workers’ expertise for biological studies on a mine site north of the Arctic Circle. When it opens in 2007, it will be the diamond company’s first mine outside of Africa.

Being bigger has benefits

Getting to work on this kind of project “would never have been on our viewscreen,” said Sue Sander, who was Shapiro’s chief executive officer and now heads AMEC’s Washington and Idaho regions.

The smaller firm couldn’t afford travel, training and conferences. It couldn’t recruit people like Jim Chatters, an archaeologist Sander worked with for decades who did carbon dating on a Kennewick skeleton. Chatters is one of a half-dozen people to recently join AMEC. Most of the former Shapiro staff remains.

But getting used to the bigger firm takes adjustment, Sander said. An informal staff once relayed messages in person, but now that’s done through the Intranet. And, switching from Macs to PCs comes with its own glitches.

New contracts

Still, AMEC won contracts because it now has in-house natural resources expertise. In the last two months, AMEC won a contract to widen Interstate 405, along with $10 million of open-ended contract work for the state Department of Transportation.

Sander said the transportation market is hot, along with residential building. Renewed interest in building houses may have to do with people in flood- and hurricane-prone parts of the country who want to move, she said.

Sander said climate change worries her the most. She said federal dollars for hurricane disaster relief would divert funds to handle infrastructure projects — or worse, a catastrophic event — closer to home.

Copyright ©2005 Seattle Daily Journal and DJC.COM.
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