Founded in 1957, Rodgers Consulting has been offering leading land planning and engineering consulting services in the Washington, D.C., area for nearly 60 years. A specialist in town planning, urban design, development entitlements, site engineering and natural resource management with a focus on the private sector, the company takes a collaborative, fully integrated approach to each project.
Originally called Rodgers Associates Inc., the company changed its name in late 2002 to reflect its unique approach. “What we sell is knowledge,” says Frank Bossong, executive vice president at Rodgers. “We changed our name to Rodgers Consulting to reflect our mission of enhancing the value of land assets through knowledge and creativity.”
That difference comes from hiring the most qualified workforce and only taking on projects that reflect the company’s knowledge base and appetite for a challenge.
“We try to hire the best and if they’re not the best, we make them the best. We’re known as the problem-solving firm and for doing more complicated projects. If it’s a simple engineering project, it’s probably not a fit for us,” says Bossong.
Rodgers has completed a number of large-scale residential and mixed-use communities in the Washington, D.C., metro area, including Montgomery and Frederick counties and a recently added office in Prince George County. The company currently employs 57, but that is expected to rise with the addition of the new location.
“We’re starting to staff up for that office, but we have a unique culture here so you can’t just hire someone and put them in a branch office,” says Bossong, who expects to add as many as 10 employees over the next two years.
While residential and commercial new construction projects once made up 80 percent of Rodgers’ business, redevelopment has become an increasing focus at the company as the region’s housing stock starts to mature past its useful life. “Montgomery County is almost entirely built out, so there’s very little greenfield development happening there and the focus has been and will continue to be redevelopment,” Bossong says. “We’ve definitely seen redevelopment increase as a percentage of our overall business.”
A forerunner in New Urbanism
In the late ‘80s, Rodgers Consulting was responsible for bringing one of the country’s first neotraditional neighborhoods to fruition. Located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Kentlands was one of the first developments in the country to use the traditional neighborhood design planning techniques now popularly referred to as New Urbanism.
With a focus on walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, developments such as Kentlands were a reaction to the spread out, automobile-centric community designs popularized following World War II. Built on a former farmstead, Kentlands features single-family and multifamily residences, a downtown commercial district, parks, schools, a church, athletic facilities, a catering facility and an arts center. “That was unique when it started because it kind of set the groundwork for a lot of the future neotraditional layouts,” Bossong says.
Rodgers served on the original planning team for Kentlands alongside New Urbanism pioneers Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk of renowned DPZ Architects, providing site planning, engineering and natural resource management on the project. Since that first neotraditional development project, Rodgers has planned and designed more than 20 such communities throughout the D.C. metro area.
On the redevelopment side, Rodgers is currently on the ground in Bethesda, Maryland, working on the White Flint Mall project, a 40-acre, urban redevelopment adjacent to a busy transit line. “It’s a very large redevelopment project with significant density from a residential, commercial and retail perspective,” Bossong says. Other recent notable redevelopment projects have been the Fillmore and Elizabeth Square in downtown Silver Spring, and The Darcy and The Flats in downtown Bethesda.
A unique management approach
As a consulting firm that completes both designing and planning tasks, Rodgers is most often hired by builders and developers to help bring their projects to life. “We partner with developers, design the project, do the planning, zoning, permitting, design roads, utilities, soft environmental; pretty much everything except the architecture,” says Bossong.
Thanks to a unique philosophy on leadership, Rodgers selects a new president every couple of decades. “Every so often you need a change in leadership and we do it every 15 or so years” Bossong says.
This strategy ensures that the company does not get stuck in established routines or lose touch with trends within the industry or the world. Historically, new presidents have been drawn from a wide range of specialties, each giving a unique perspective on the business and its future. “The first president was a surveyor; the second was an engineer; the third was a planner and the current president, Dusty Rood, is an environmental expert, a trend and trajectory that matches the industry needs,” Bossong says.
An active member of the Maryland Building Industry Association (MBIA), Rodgers is very involved in advocating for the industry while expanding its overall knowledge base. “Our purpose is to give back and be involved,” says Bossong. The MBIA even has a lifetime achievement award named after Rodgers’ founder, Joseph C. Rodgers.
While Rodgers is a growth-oriented company, Bossong wants to ensure that growth comes at a steady, manageable rate. “We’re not out here to grow for the sake of growing, 5 to 10 percent a year is adequate for us,” he says.
Rodgers Consulting has set itself apart from the competition as a values-based firm that takes pride in every job. With this model in place, the company will continue to offer leading land development consulting services to real estate interests for years to come.
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