Case Studies

Tectonic Engineering & Surveying Consultants P.C.: Offering Professional Services with Practical Solutions

  • Written by: Tectonic Engineering & Surveying Consultants P.C.: Offering Professional Services with Practical Solutions
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Tectonic Engineering & Surveying Consultants P.C. (Tectonic) is a multidiscipline engineering and surveying firm based in Mountainville, N.Y. Tectonic offers professional services to public and private entities in the transportation, wireless telecommunication, water resources and building sectors across the nation.

Since the company’s founding in 1986, Donald Benvie, president and CEO of Tectonic, has led the Tectonic team to become one of the industry’s leading engineering and surveying firms. In addition to strategic office locations in New York, Tectonic has extended its business operations through branch offices in Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and North Carolina. Under Benvie’s leadership, Tectonic employs more than 400 professionals with backgrounds in civil, structural, geotechnical and environmental engineering, as well as surveyors, planners and construction inspectors.

Tectonic was ranked No. 189 in ENR’s 2012 list of the Top 500 Engineering Firms, as well as No. 33 out of the 200 most successful consulting firms in the United States and Canada on the 2012 Zweig Letter Hot Firms list. Public Works, New York Construction, CE News and Trenchless Technology have also recognized the company for its prestigious work.

As a member of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACECNY), Tectonic is one of 270 firms in a proactive coalition that represents every discipline of engineering related to the built environment. The company has received the coalition’s 2012 Diamond award for the MassDOT Rapid Build Bridge Replacement of the Route 2 over Route 2A Bridge in Phillipston, Mass., and the 2011 Platinum Award for Engineering Excellence in Environmental for the Central Park Police Precinct renovation project.

Engineering in the City

The company’s varied expertise allows the team to mentor small and newly formed firms that provide niche professional services. As a rule, Tectonic usually subcontracts with firms to do between 15 and 20 percent of a given project, leaving the remainder of work to be self-performed by Tectonic. According to Benvie, the type of contract Tectonic holds dictates some of the subcontracting.

“We’re mandated to subcontract 10 to 20 percent of work, if it’s a state project,” Benvie explains. “Most of the subcontracting meets government requirements for small-business utilization. In some cases, we engage a subconsultant for expertise we don’t have in house.”

When working with subcontractors, even in today’s price-driven economy, Benvie reports Tectonic works with a core group. “We try to use subcontractors and suppliers we have relationships with,” he says. “We try to build and maintain relationships with subcontractors so we can market ourselves to clients with that relationship. Clients want to have some level of insurance that we can work together and know each other’s capabilities.”

Benvie estimates that while the company provides services nationwide, much of its work comes from the New York metropolitan area. The company makes a point to build strong working partnerships in New York. Tectonic currently has a number of contracts with New York City and the state to complete new projects and current upgrades.

Tectonic is currently working on three significant subway projects in New York City to expand services, including the Long Island East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway and the No. 7 Line. The company is also involved in the reconstruction of the World Trade Center. Two projects at about $500 million apiece for the city of New York include a new police academy in Queens and an emergency call center in the Bronx.

One of the largest contracts Tectonic has received is to work on East Side Access for the Long Island Railroad. Benvie estimates the project’s construction cost to total about $7 billion. Once finished, the completed project will allow Long Island Railroad commuters to come directly into the city and reach Grand Central Station in addition to their current access to Penn Station. Construction entails carving a new station out of rock and boring new tunnels some 150-feet below existing infrastructure.

Tectonic also has contracts with the Massachusetts and Connecticut transportation departments. In Massachusetts Benvie reports the company is working on bridge projects in the western part of the state. Work in Connecticut includes infrastructure to connect the suburbs with Hartford, Conn., through the construction of a new bus rapid transit system.

Competitive Edge

Since the economic downturn in 2008, Tectonic has realized a need to be more competitive in the construction industry. “In the past, service was based on qualifications,” says Benvie. “But because there are so many firms that compete for the public work out there and the public work is shrinking because of reduced spending programs, it’s forcing keen competition on pricing for the projects.”

Even with the competition, Tectonic refuses to sacrifice quality. Benvie reports the company seeks work in farther regions to keep business coming in and looks toward the wireless telecommunications industry, which it has performed work for over the past 20 years.

Benvie sees hope in the economy’s future, though. “Incrementally things are starting to get better,” he says. “The whole fiscal cliff thing got people on edge and they’ve been able to relieve a lot of people’s anxiety by reaching a partial resolution earlier this year and hopefully by finding a final solution before ‘sequestration’ takes affect at federal agencies in March. Probably some business plans have been on hold. Maybe different business will start to take those plans off hold and go forward with the project.”

One thing that sets Tectonic apart and helps maintain a competitive edge is its versatility and ability to understand owner and contractor perspectives. “We understand both sides of the table,” says Benvie. “What it takes to make sure the owner gets the level of service they expect and understanding what drives the contractor’s needs: schedule and cost.”

The company’s notable diversity and established ability will assist in continued success for years to come. In the meantime, Tectonic Engineering & Surveying Consultants P.C will continue to focus on its core capabilities in the transportation, water resources, environmental, telecommunications, energy and building markets.

Published on: April 25, 2013

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