Cape Design Engineering Co.
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: James Logan
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
With the intention of providing high-level engineering services to clients across the Southeast, Kannan Rengarajan, P.E., and Lutfi Mized, P.E., founded Cape Design Engineering Co. (CDE). Rengarajan was born and raised in Chennai, India, while Mized was born and raised in Silwad, Palestine; both men immigrated to the United States to obtain higher education and to pursue a life better than what they left behind.
That is exactly what the duo achieved; Rengarajan now holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and Mized holds a master’s degree in structural engineering. As time went by, both men honed their talents and became pillars to the areas they served.
Eventually, the two found themselves working for the same employer in Florida. Despite having tenured and successful careers with their previous employer, Rengarajan and Mized decided it was time to break away and start their own design engineering firm. In 1997, CDE opened its doors for business and neither Rengarajan nor Mized have looked back since.
CDE has grown exponentially over the past 15 years, building a large, devoted customer base across southern Florida and extending into the Caribbean. As of 2007, CDE had also diversified into construction services, acting as project manager and general contractor on a number of complex construction projects.
“We have been in business for 15 years,” says Rengarajan. “We perform many design-build projects, primarily in the public sector.” The team has completed a lot of federal government work, and CDE has gained a reputation for value engineering. “We come up with innovative, cost-effective solutions,” he elaborates. “Clients don’t have to go to two different entities like they may have to with some of our competitors.”
CDE employs an approximate staff of 30, including a number of talented engineers and project managers. On the construction side of the business, the crew is able to step in throughout each stage of a project from preconstruction through commissioning. With decades of experience in the industry, CDE stands out from other contractors and engineering firms with a broad portfolio of complex projects where the team has applied high-quality and innovative solutions.
Design and Build Under One Roof
Rengarajan notes that his crew performs roughly 15 to 30 percent of each contract, fulfilling design, project management and other design-build roles. “Most of the work is subbed out to vendors and subcontractors,” he explains. “We have a set network of strategic partners we know we can rely on. We tend to select certain companies for unique projects and occasionally shop around to build new relationships. Managing these relationships is integral to our success as a construction manager on these projects.”
Therefore, the company completes a large number of design-build projects. “The 8(a) market has been a growing customer base for us and a lot of our projects are for the federal government,” Rengarajan continues. “We do a number of negotiated and competitive projects. We recently completed a project for the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla. The complexity here was that we had to build everything underground, including the transformers and pumps. There is a lot of water underground in the state, which presented some challenges.”
Regardless of the challenges involved with CDE’s unusual projects, the team focuses on internal management and delivery. “Our major focus is meeting deadlines and managing projects effectively,” Rengarajan explains. “Getting the best contacts and subs for each job keeps us on point. There are always technical challenges, but the experience and skill level of our engineers and construction team makes that manageable.”
Throughout the process, the team tracks progress in a number of ways, keeping on schedule and on budget. “Our biggest performance indicator, however, is customer satisfaction,” Rengarajan states. “We want to build lasting relationships with repeat clients and we haven’t lost a return customer since our foundation. That’s what gives us the most pride about our work here. We are able to deliver successful projects through high-quality engineering and construction. We also had a recent project that met LEED Platinum standards, and we feel good about our role in reduction environmental pollution.”
CDE is taking advantage of the economic turnaround, as Rengarajan has seen major improvements in the market both the public and private sectors. “It’s getting much better,” he explains. “Compared to last year, there is significantly more progress in the construction industry, especially on the commercial side. We are getting offers from colleges and universities for projects. I’m not sure exactly sure where we are headed next, but we are certainly on the wave of progress. We still need innovation across the industry for a full recovery.”
Rengarajan and the CDE team remain optimistic for the coming years. “I think we will continue to see sustainable growth,” he continues. “Our size gives us certain advantages, and we want to stay around 30 to 35 employees. We are going after several new contracts in several sectors.”
Above all else, Rengarajan and his team will continue to maintain an edge, building upon existing relationships and chasing down new opportunities. With longstanding connections and a reputation for quality in performance, Cape Design Engineering Co. will continue on a steady growth path for the years to come.
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