NOVA Engineering and Environmental LLC
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Ryan Fecteau
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
When engineering, inspection, testing and consulting services come together under one roof, clients can expect a high level of expertise and support throughout the life cycle of a project — from conception to decommissioning. NOVA Engineering and Environmental LLC has long established an integrated approach to project planning, construction, operation and even redevelopment, making the firm a leader in the U.S. engineering field and a trusted partner for private and public entity clients throughout its broad geographic footprint.
NOVA was initially founded in 1996, when a trio of executives, led by Walter Cook, PE (NOVA’s inaugural president), decided to launch a small company focused on high-end quality consulting, serving a select group of clients and industries in the Southeast. Having spent their careers in leadership positions with large, national firms it was important to the company’s founders to build a company that exceeded their clients’ expectations — and to have fun doing it.
However, shortly after 9/11, and concerned about the future, the founders recruited Randall Bagwell, PE, to join NOVA’s team, as they wanted to diversify potential clientele across various market sectors. “I had a lot of experience in the government sector [city, county, state government consulting contracts], while their client base was mostly private,” recalls Bagwell, current president and CEO. The initiative was a success, and over the next five years NOVA grew from a firm with less than 30 employees to one with a staff of almost 100 spread between three offices.
A pattern of consistent growth
Today, the firm is up to 275 staff members spread across 14 offices in Florida, Georgia, Ohio and the Carolinas. In 2014, NOVA saw a staggering 40 percent growth and Bagwell and his fellow executives anticipate growth to the tune of 24 percent for 2015.
While the company’s historic growth has not always been as staggering as in past years, NOVA maintains a strong commitment to innovation and adaptability that has been present from Day One. “In engineering and construction, monumental changes do not happen overnight,” Bagwell explains. “In the 30 or so years I have been in this industry, I am amazed at how it has changed and created greater efficiencies.”
“Change for us occurs when our clients insist that there is something that can improve communication or collaboration with them,” he continues. “What has impacted us the most recently is the shift in technology that allows us to get reports, plans and other information to our clients expeditiously.”
Bagwell and his colleagues utilize MetaField, an integrated field management system that enables field technicians to automate field reports and more. The program has allowed NOVA to take a large step forward in going paper-free and has greatly improved efficiency, quality and communication both internally and with clients and partners.
Beyond technology, NOVA has made other changes that fall more under company culture soul-searching. The result has been rebranding to better market the firm using the findings of a recent market analysis. “Using data collected by a consultant, we’ve been able to understand not only how we define ourselves, but how our clients see us,” Bagwell explains. “The result has been really interesting and we’ve narrowed it down to three keywords that describe our operation: professional, practical and proven.”
NOVA’s reputation for professional, practical and proven engineering and environmental services has resulted in a strong portfolio of quality projects, backed up by satisfied customers. The business is currently in the process of providing integrated design and engineering services for clients in a range of distinct industries.
Currently underway, NOVA is involved with the SunTrust Park Stadium and Mixed-Use Development project, which will be the home of the new Atlanta Braves stadium once open in 2017. “It is overall a $1 billion construction project,” Bagwell notes. “It includes significant mixed-use, such as office towers, hotels and residential space. We have performed geotechnical engineering, environmental, special inspection, construction materials testing and building envelope consulting for the project. The mixed-use development and stadium are expected to be completed before the first pitch of the 2017 season.”
The project is running on schedule despite some challenges. “It’s a relatively small site with multiple construction teams working side by side,” Bagwell explains. “The logistics are critical when the schedule is moving at a breakneck pace. We’ve also had some geotechnical challenges for site preparation, making certain the foundation systems are going to perform as intended. In some areas, there is a lot of underlying rock, but others have very soft soils that wouldn’t support structures, which complicates the design.”
NOVA is also involved in the construction of SkyRise Miami, a 100-story building that will be the tallest high-rise in the Southeast. Over the course of the project, the firm has provided geotechnical engineering and environmental consulting. Going forward, Bagwell’s team will be on-site performing threshold and special inspections as well as a larger scope to be determined. The structure’s position right on the bay has made for unique geotechnical challenges, with foundations extending 150 to 200 feet below existing grade for support.
The firm is also working on the components of a public-private partnership between property developer and management group, Corvias, and the State of Georgia for seven new private dormitory projects across the state. “Our role is supporting them in design and construction of new dorms, including geotechnical engineering, construction inspection, special inspection, code inspection and building envelope services,” Bagwell explains. After completion, Corvias will retain management of these dormitories for 50 years, which the state expects to improve building conditions and student satisfaction through privatization.
On track for growth
NOVA’s success is dependent on performance — and the company has a proven record for quality. This commitment is deepened and promoted by leadership, a core team that encourages employees to honor commitments to clients and their future success. As the construction industry gains steam throughout a slow but steady recovery period, this dedication to service and quality keeps the firm on track for continued, sustainable growth. The greatest challenge for NOVA now is finding qualified employees to take on the work — a common concern in the industry.
With a strong and growing team in place, NOVA is on course to achieve its five-year strategic growth plan. The firm’s major goal is to be a leader in the markets it serves. “That does not mean we are the biggest, but we want to be the go-to firm in those fields,” Bagwell explains. “It then allows us to provide our employees with challenges to solve, gives them job security and the personal ability to grow with the company. Our employees are our No. 1 asset, while our clients are our No. 1 reason for being in business.”
Bagwell hopes to maintain an atmosphere that fosters success for both employees and clients, using NOVA Engineering and Environmental LLC as the vehicle to bring those goals together.
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