Lochsa Engineering (Lochsa, pronounced lock-saw) is an engineering firm that provides civil, traffic, structural and surveying services from multiple offices to provide practical, pioneering design solutions and outstanding client service to clients worldwide. Two University of Idaho graduates founded the company in 1995, naming it after the Lochsa River in northern Idaho, and their dedication to innovation and value-driven engineering has resulted in a company of 80 creative consultants spread between four offices that serve a sizable range of construction project types. Lochsa remains motivated to embrace change and to create greener, smarter, most sustainable structures.
Shiloh Holmes, the firm’s marketing manager, says the business originated in Las Vegas, Nev. “Originally there were two engineers, one structural and one civil,” she explains. “Their specialty was high-rise and resort projects back when Vegas was booming. They developed a method that made these jobs more efficient and before long they were involved in most of the skyline there.”
Riley Mahaffey, a principal at the firm, has been with Lochsa for eight and is responsible for opening the Boise, Idaho office. His experience has been instrumental in diversifying services. Today the business has grown to include several disciplines of engineering in two domestic and two international locations. “We’ve branched out into infrastructure,” says Mahaffrey. “We’re doing beaming and structural jobs, as well as fancy finish work. They’re smaller projects in scale, but it’s a more diverse, two-pronged deal.”
An Expanding Market
In 2008 Lochsa opened an office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. “It took a lot of time to secure the licensing,” says Mahaffey. Not long after the company opened a location in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. “We work everywhere but Alaska in the United States and Canada,” he elaborates. “Internationally, our projects are in Afghanistan, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and beyond.” Going international was a move spurred by client interest. “We had clients who requested work worldwide and we followed the business where it went,” says Holmes.
Client loyalty is an important component of Lochsa’s success as a business. “We have clientele that really like how we get things done,” Mahaffey explains. “We get requests from the same people over and over.” This level of satisfaction in services is the company’s largest performance quality indicator. “We focus on the basics, like hitting our budgets and maintaining profitability,” says Mahaffey. “But really we look at the success of our projects overall through the lens of client satisfaction. We want repeat business.” This is facilitated through building a cohesive design team and delivering operative project solutions in the private and public sectors, governmental agencies, architectural firms and building contractors.
The company is in a period of growth, despite setbacks from the recession. Las Vegas as a region has struggled over the last few years. Low tourism revenue has scaled back new construction and upgrades significantly and the casinos and resorts that were once major clients have taken a break from once regular renovations. “Our Vegas office has had to restructure,” says Holmes. “We needed to streamline and become more cost effective, and we lost a few people in that location.” To boost efficiency, the Vegas operation has redirected its focus, diversifying services while the economy there makes a gradual turnaround. However, the Las Vegas office maintains the same commitment as all Lochsa branches: to deliver quality service on time, on budget and to a client’s satisfaction.
Despite its precarious economic situation, Las Vegas is still the backdrop to many of Lochsa’s most impressive projects to date. The company performed three separate contracts for CityCenter Las Vegas, a 500,000-square foot retail and entertainment space – the largest privately funded construction development in America. All completed in 2009, Lochsa provided services for a variety of applications within the single large project, including traffic engineering, structural engineering and civil and flood control design.
Lochsa engineered the Harmon Interchange, an intersection of street and pedestrian traffic between two clocks of the CityCenter complex. The design was challenged by local traffic patterns and the team was tasked with developing a plan that would keep drivers and pedestrians moving while maintaining safety and efficient access to the center. Through a series of elevated ramps, walkways and pedestrian bridges, Lochsa provided a design that serves the interests of street traffic as well as visitors. This phase was completed in February 2009.
Meanwhile, Lochsa’s Idaho team was busy working inside with a host of high-end materials to create CityCenter’s façade. The team’s background in light-gauge metal engineering offered expertise on the project, which involved creating a sweeping indoor backdrop for the center composed of geometrically complex walls and windows. The engineers utilized building information modeling (BIM) software to streamline the design process, as well as to offer in-depth, interactive plans to the contractors involved.
The Nevada office orchestrated civil engineers and flood control designers to set the stage for the structure, which spans 76 acres. Using hydrologic modeling, Lochsa’s team of engineers established drainage plans to route water into existing and newly constructed water systems. The complex plan took into account several factors, including existing city utilities and the design of the center, to safely control weather runoff and prevent flooding and structural damage to the center.
Above all else, Lochsa’s success relies on building positive working relationships with clients. Communication between engineers and contractors is key, and the team’s collaborative attitude has led to a broad portfolio of challenging projects. Currently the company is looking to opportunities in the Midwest’s oilfield sector, for high-tech, very complex fabrication facilities, for higher education, as well as to other niches where the Lochsa template can be applied successfully. Lochsa Engineering is staffed by some of the country’s most creative, innovative engineers who will continue to offer creative, customized solutions to clients all over the world.
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