HNTB marks 100 years
By Dan O'Brien
By Dan O'Brien
CHELMSFORD -- From the formation of the Massachusetts Turnpike, the expansion of South Station to the design of the iconic Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, HNTB has had its fingerprints on nearly every key transportation-infrastructure project in Massachusetts since its arrival in the state in 1954.
The Kansas City-based designer of bridges, roadways, airports, stadiums and rail systems recently marked its 100th anniversary in business, an event that drew local legislators and town officials to the company's Apollo Drive offices last week.
State Reps. David Nangle and Tom Golden, both D-Lowell, delivered a state proclamation to the business, and were joined by Town Manager Paul Cohen and Selectmen George Dixon and Pat Wojtas.
Steven McElligott, the company's Northeast Division president, said HNTB has been in Chelmsford since 2008. It employs 85 of its approximately 200 Massachusetts workers there (the rest are in Boston), and is seeking to grow.
"We're looking for about 20 percent more space," he said, noting the company occupies about 15,000 square feet. "We expect to grow to over 100 people here."
Cohen was pleased to hear HNTB would be expanding within its existing building, seeing it as a sign that there is satisfaction with Chelmsford.
"With any business, we just try to convey that we're willing to assist in any way possible in terms of addressing their needs," Cohen said. "They'll be bringing in more people as part of that expansion, which of course is good news."
McElligott said several major projects in Massachusetts have put HNTB on a growth track in the region. Among those are an extension of the MBTA's Green Line and the expansion of South Station.
HNTB came to Massachusetts in 1954 as plans began to create the state turnpike.
"We were the first consultant," McElligott said.
Other signature projects in the region include the replacement of the Whittier Bridge (spanning Newbury and Amesbury) and the conversion to open-road tolling at the Hampton (N.H.) Toll Plaza.
HNTB is an employee-owned firm serving public and private owners and contractors, including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
"It (our status) provides our employees a sense of ownership, and there is pride in doing the best job possible," McElligott said.
The company is organized into three main groups:
* Infrastructure, which serves public infrastructure clients.
* Design-build, which serves national and international contractors
* Architecture, which serves public and private infrastructure clients and contractors.
McElligott said strapped state and municipal budgets have not been a deterrent to HNTB's business because it provides a necessary service and looks to work with clients to minimize costs.
"The infrastructure is going to be there. When it ages, it impacts the mobility of the region, and that impacts commerce," he said.
He gave the example of a commuter-rail rehabilitation project on the Fitchburg/South Acton Line that was estimated to cost $300 million but which the state had budgeted just half that.
"We were able to work with clients to find what was unnecessary, and get that cost down to $150 million," McElligott said. "We look to deliver the same utility at a lower cost."Privately-held HNTB employs 3,700 people in numerous offices across the United States.
State Rep. David Nangle, D-Lowell, speaks as he presents a proclamation from the Legislature to HNTB Corp., a provider of transportation-infrastructure design and services, at the company's offices in Chelmsford on Tuesday. Looking on are state Rep. Tom Golden, D-Lowell, left, and Steven McElligott, Northeast Division president of HNTB. The Kansas City-based company plans to add to its 85-man roster in Chelmsford.