Case Studies

Superior Engineering LLC

Providing Diverse Engineering Services Nationwide

Since its founding in 1962, multidisciplinary engineering firm Superior Engineering LLC (Superior) has remained stable and continues to grow over 50 years later. Superior incorporates a number of unique services, catering to clients in a wide range of market sectors.

Today, Superior employs 185 people with an array of experience and training, allowing the company to serve long term clients in the Midwest, as well as reaching out nationwide and overseas. However, the firm’s largest markets are located in Indiana and Illinois. The firm’s key markets include petroleum refining, the chemical industry, steel manufacturing and processing, educational and institutional facilities, food processing, as well as utilities and infrastructure.

One key to Superior’s stability and longevity is its business structure. “Our employees are part of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan [ESOP],” explains Bill Hills, CEO of Superior. “The ESOP offers employees an ownership stake in the business. As the business value increases, the employees directly gain through the growth of their plan account. The more substantial the ownership stake, the more motivated they are to improve company performance, increase quality and productivity and most importantly, remain part of the team.”

Relationship-driven

Tom Gyure, general manager for Superior, explains that the benefits of employee loyalty are driven by the ownership plan. “Superior’s business structure has generated a solid team of motivated professionals with unmatched continuity of service,” he continues. “Superior has many employees that have remained with the company for over 30 years. This longevity allows Superior to bring combined centuries of experience to bear on any problem presented and to also use that knowledge to mentor and develop the upcoming generations of engineers.”

Superior’s clients benefit from this stability witnessed by the long-term relationships maintained. “Several of Superior’s original clients have been steady customers since its founding over the 50 years ago,” Tom continues. “They have come to rely on the extensive knowledge of their facilities we have developed and know that Superior has a stake in their success, as well.”

Above all else, according to Tom, the team takes great pride in mastering each client’s systems, facilities and procedures. “We master these to the point where we know as much, or more, about them than our client does,” he details. “That makes us an extension of their team and an indispensable partner in their continued success.”

For instance, Superior was given the opportunity to place a small, dedicated team on the client’s site that specialized in rapid development and implementation of diverse, low cost projects valued at less than $100,000 each. “The continued success of that team over a four-year period resulted in its growth to over 60 people and the award of individual projects up to $3 million in value,” Tom explains. “Now that is a success story.”

Capable and Professional Services

Superior is dedicated to remaining current on the latest engineering developments and technology; the company has even been listed among ENR’s 500 Top Design Firms for the past eight consecutive years.

The Superior team is comprised of engineering and technical professionals who specialize in a number of areas within the discipline. Team members offer engineering, design and project management services in civil and structural engineering, process chemical, electrical, instrumentation and controls, as well as mechanical engineering and design to its client base. Specialized teams are maintained for computer modeling of piping and process systems, structural analysis, finite element analysis, arc flash safety and machine design.

The firm has been involved in a number of large and complex projects over the years. By employing a unique approach to seemingly overwhelming tasks, Superior is able to make even the most daunting projects a series of more manageable tasks. Working closely with clients, the team simplifies the project by breaking down each contract into parts and applying the efforts of the individual discipline teams piece-by-piece. Using the latest in project control and scheduling software, Superior coordinates each one to produce a seamless product.

A Growing Portfolio

The firm has helped execute the design and construction of everything from residential structures to complete petrochemical facilities. “One of our largest and most recent projects has been at a local refinery in Whiting, Ind.,” Bill says. “We worked in Whiting, where the company wanted to remove an old refinery and construct a new one. This was a $3.7 billion project that ran across a span of four years. We did the majority of the engineering for the demolition of the old plant. We have done technical work around all of the mechanical systems, as well as piping systems design. There was a lot of civil/structural and electrical engineering on this contract. We are wrapping up and the company is in start mode for several units. The project should be complete by the end of 2013.”

Since inception, Superior has completed over 2,000 refinery projects. In recent years, the team averages over 200 projects under development or execution at any one time. Another major piece of the team’s portfolio consists of work for clients in the steel and metals industry. The company has been working with the owners and operators of steel mills for over 50 years, partnering with some of the world’s largest steel companies.

Recently, Superior completed a $63 million steel mill project for Luxembourg based ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer. “That was one of our most challenging projects,” Bill notes. “We incorporated unique equipment into an existing facility, including a plate mill that is capable of leveling four-inch thick steel plate. That was huge.”

On the Horizon

Superior faced challenges throughout the recession; however, Bill notes that business is coming back approximately. The business has been experiencing steady growth of around 5 percent annually. While Bill and the team are happy to have increasing revenues, there are challenges associated with growth, too.

“As we get busier, we are expanding our team,” Bill says. “Quality people can be difficult to find. We have people on staff with 20 to 35 years of experience, so we felt it natural that we create our own mentor program with recent college graduates.”

With a strong and growing team, Superior is positioned for continued growth over the coming years. “The economy is getting better,” Bill explains. “We have seen a nice improvement in revenue and in the next few years, we are looking forward to additional growth opportunities. Our plan is for strategic, organic growth by moving into new sectors.” Bill notes that the company is are also weighing several acquisitions.

“We are very careful not to grow too fast and plan our growth so that we can maintain the level of quality, responsiveness and customer service our clients have come to rely on,” Bill continues. “In recent years we have added SEMAC, our machine design division based in Youngstown, Ohio, Superior Design-Build, our construction division based in Hammond, Ind., and added a new office in Bolingbrook, Ill., to better service local clients in that area.”

Superior celebrated 50 years of business in 2012, and the legend continues. Heading down a steady path toward sustainable growth, the team is looking ahead to decades of continued success. Bill and his team are preparing for a number of complex technical and engineering contracts. The company will maintain its strong and proven focus of safety, customer service and quality, making Superior Engineering LLC a continuing leader in the engineering community.

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