Building & Earth Sciences, Inc. (Building & Earth) is a professional engineering firm specializing in geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, special inspections, and environmental consulting. The firm was founded by professionals with experience in providing innovative solutions for the design and construction industry. From a group of six individuals in Birmingham, Alabama, Building & Earth has grown to encompass 16 offices, with a staff of over 250 people, supporting clients throughout the United States.
Building & Earth’s success can be attributed to providing high-caliber, responsive service in the markets in which it operates. Technical distinction and quality service are the foundation of the business.
“Our company was founded with the vision to deliver quality services for our clients while providing a compassionate and caring environment for our employees,” shares founding Partner and President, Jeff Cowen. “Our growth has resulted from this commitment to both clients’ and employees’ needs. We didn’t grow for growth’s sake; we are striving to provide opportunities for our employees.
“Our strongest expansion route has been organic growth,” he continues. “We have permanent brick and mortar operations in nine states, and work on remote projects throughout the US as well as several projects outside our borders. Branch Managers and Regional Vice Presidents have grown their regions by providing key leadership, mentoring and progression opportunities. We heavily incentivize education, licensing, and certifications. This has made us a strong, intelligent group with great bench strength and project knowledge that benefits our clients.”
Founder and CEO, Deepa Bhate, adds: “Since our founding, we have remained focused on being responsive to clients’ needs. Responsiveness is key, especially if something goes wrong. Issues you would prefer to avoid do not get better by avoiding them. It’s crucial to anticipate potential problems and resolve them before they have a chance to develop. Proactive communication is the life blood of successful projects and in turn, client satisfaction.”
Still going strong
It is this ability to develop relationships with clients by performing well on a consistent basis that has ensured 25 successful years in the industry. “Even on the most difficult projects, being a team that our clients can rely on to help them meet their goals and objectives, is fundamental to the success of our service offering.
“The most notable project examples are the many instances when our clients have taken us to areas where we do not have offices and are required to set up on-site facilities to support significant operations. This is accomplished by being the firm they can depend on and by helping them to achieve their goals. We have successfully utilized this approach to service projects of more than $2 billion in construction value, and in some cases, that includes mobile-lab operations, in locations such as Puerto Rico, Canada, the Bahamas, and Cuba. Our client-first approach clearly demonstrates our willingness to go above and beyond. This core value not only sets us apart from other companies, but it has earned Building & Earth a client retention rate of 90 percent.”
The company is committed to creating a positive and engaging environment that benefits its clients, stockholders, and employees. Jeff elaborates: “We work collaboratively to achieve our clients’ objectives while supporting our workforce through personal, professional, and financial growth. Senior team members actively mentor our younger team members because we know they represent the future of our firm. We encourage our employees to develop meaningful professional relationships with clients and each other. As they succeed, we succeed.”
It takes a team
Supplier relationships are equally critical to Building & Earth’s success. “Business partner relationships are every bit as important as client relationships. Our financial and professional support systems are always available, and we treat our subcontractors with respect, pay them per contract terms and communicate transparently. Consequently, they are there for us when we need them to execute projects with tight deadlines or difficult conditions.”
Deepa expands: “As such, we strongly believe in adaptability. We stay alert to changing conditions and adjust accordingly. We actively research and pursue new market opportunities as we align with them. Responsiveness is a constant that does not change. Good communication is the foundation for trust. Those are the things that don’t change, and we keep doing what we are doing. However, as technology develops, we adjust. Just as we have transitioned from beepers to cell phones and fax machines to email and text, technology will always change. Companies must change how business is done to keep up. Through the years, we’ve done a good job of not jumping at the new, shiny thing but instead thoughtfully adopting new technology when it makes sense. Our level of sophistication and business practices has changed constantly regarding technology and how we deliver our product.”
From labor shortages to rising costs of materials, issues have always challenged the sector. Jeff shares: “While such issues may seem more vivid because there are currently several occurring at the same time, we have successfully weathered the storm in the past. There have been challenges over the past 25 years and the only thing certain is that we will meet the challenges and continue to be successful into the future. The key to success is keeping our employees engaged through continued training to help strengthen us as an organization. Consistency in our approach to how we do what we do will aid us as we continue to push for the goal of constant improvement in the face of uncertain times ahead.
Deepa summarizes: “We will strive to continue building a firm that attains and retains great talent and unlocks their full potential to provide an exceptional client experience. The next generation of engineers, professional staff, and technicians will carry on the values instilled into this company at its founding, while they pursue being the benchmark for professional services. When you get to have a career doing something you love, time moves fast. We’re proud that our humble beginnings developed into a company currently with 16 offices and over 250 employees and steadily growing. We wouldn’t be where we are without our amazing clients, knowledgeable staff, and each other.”