Fast-growing Burns & McDonnell expects to hire 600 this year

02/04/2014 11:27 AM

02/04/2014 11:39 PM

Burns & McDonnell is cashing in on America’s energy boom, breaking the $2 billion sales mark last year and expecting to add 600 jobs this year, half of them locally.

The Kansas City-based engineering firm also is hunting for more office space, already having outgrown its recently consolidated headquarters campus at 9400 Ward Parkway and another building at 9201 State Line Road. It also has a short-term lease for three floors in a building at 10450 Holmes Road.

“We are in a full-fledged space study again, and we anticipate substantial growth in 2014 and 2015,” said Greg Graves, CEO and chairman. “America is on a quest for energy independence and energy reliance, and both have been good markets for us.”

The firm, which now employs 4,300 people, 2,600 locally, hit $2.3 billion in total sales last year, up 15 percent from the previous year. It’s forecasting another 15 percent increase this year.

“Demand for our services is running high, and we are happy to continue building our talented team,” Graves said.

As for its future real estate needs, Graves said the firm was considering both leasing existing space and the potential for new construction. Though not ruling out coming to downtown Kansas City, Graves said, “We like being the cornerstone in south Kansas City.”

Burns & McDonnell is planning what it calls an “unprecedented hiring spree” this year, adding 600 positions, half of them in Kansas City and the rest in its regional offices.

With the firm just having been named the 14th-best place to work in the country by Fortune magazine, Graves said it should be “no issue finding good employees.”

“We are determined to make the right hires to be our future employee-owners, recruiting and retaining the best and not hiring merely on the basis of need.”

Fueling the firm’s growth have been projects in the petrochemical and natural gas industries, including liquefied natural gas, described by Graves as serving the country’s quest for energy independence. The other major growth sector has been designing high-voltage electrical transmission infrastructure, the “energy reliance” side of the equation.

“Our national (electrical) grid is not fixed yet, and there are many projects underway,” Graves said. “The two combined have made a hot market for us.”

Burns & Mac’s crosstown — and global — rival, Black & Veatch, also has been doing well. The Overland Park-based firm had $3.5 billion in sales in 2013. It now has a total workforce of more than 10,000. Its local workforce numbers about 3,300.

Black & Veatch is the ninth-largest engineering firm in the United States, and Burns & McDonnell ranks 20th, according to Engineering News-Record. HNTB Cos. of Kansas City, which is celebrating its centennial this year, ranked 21st.

Graves said Burns & Mac’s growing design-build operation has been doing well for the company, too.

“Burns & McDonnell has continued to diversify its core offerings in engineering design, construction management and technical specialties,” he said.

“The continuing industry trend toward design-build projects has spurred tremendous growth within the company’s construction-design-build division, while the company has begun expanding into commercial construction opportunities as well.”

Last December, Burns & Mac announced a $20 million deal to renovate 50 Midwestern Hy-Vee supermarkets for a new restaurant format. The venture was part of the firm’s expansion into the commercial construction field.

Other projects included an interior renovation for the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry; tenant improvement work for Ferrellgas; and a bourbon-tasting center in suburban Cincinnati for Missouri Grain Processing.

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