2016 marks EBA Engineering’s 35th anniversary of service throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Over the years, this small civil and environmental engineering firm has grown to provide a complete range of professional engineering and management services to a wide variety of clients in both the public and private sectors.
“EBA started back in 1981 with only 25 employees and now we have over 250 employees in five regional offices in Virginia, Maryland, DC, and Pennsylvania with headquarters in Laurel, Maryland,” says President & CEO Rizwan Siddiqi, PE.
A full service solution
EBA’s multidisciplinary approach sets the company apart. “We are a full service civil engineering company, which not many companies are. We provide every service under civil engineering. That is one thing that separates us from our competitors.”
The company’s areas of expertise include civil/site, environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation, water resources, and water systems engineering; construction management and inspection; asset management; surveying and mapping; materials testing; and geospatial technologies.
EBA’s full-service approach streamlines the design and construction process, alleviating the client’s stress. “It is a one-stop-shop concept, so you don’t have to deal with three or four companies to get all required services,” Mr. Siddiqi points out. “EBA handles all services in the contract—whatever is required. Our clients work with one project manager, who manages different in-house disciplines or trades and collaborates with our different department leads. EBA provides all these services in one package.”
EBA’s full-service package is as cost effective as it is convenient. “We offer our services at very competitive rates. When services are provided under one roof, there are no markups on top of markups. The market is very tight and competitive, and we are conscious about that.”
Keeping all services under one roof also helps with project coordination. “Since all the services are in-house, we can work directly with our different departments to meet our schedule, rather than have a third-party company that says ‘we are booked for the next three weeks’ and you are stuck with them. In-house services provide more flexibility, and we have more control over the project timeline.”
Many clients have been working with EBA since the company’s first years in business. “We have been getting repeat work from our clients for almost 25, 30 years,” Mr. Siddiqi says. “We get about 90 percent of our work from our repeat clients. That one statement tells you about the quality of our work, our responsiveness to our clients, and our reliability.”
This dedication to the client and to the schedule is summarized in the company tagline “Where Commitment Counts.” The tagline was created to reflect customer feedback when the business rebranded in 2010. “When we surveyed our clients, every response mentioned the word ’commitment.’”
Indeed, EBA is committed to the community as well as to clients. “We really try to give something back to the community, whether donating our time or resources.” The company is involved with a number of local charities and non-profit organizations—from soup kitchens to the Girl Scouts—donating thousands of dollars and volunteer hours over the last three and half decades.
In addition, EBA’s leadership is actively involved in professional associations such as the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), filling top leadership positions and supporting association activities. “Our purpose is really to give back and also to mentor some young engineers through these organizations.” This mentoring extends to include a “very robust” EBA internship program as well as community outreach. “We also go to some local schools and colleges here and educate and train students about engineering disciplines.”
State of the industry
The industry is facing a shortage of qualified engineers, making mentorship an important goal benefiting both the company and the industry as a whole. “There are a lot of design engineering needs out here in the Northeast region, so the challenge has become for us to find good quality engineers. Mid-level and senior managers are scarce in this marketplace.”
Mr. Siddiqi helped to identify this shortage when he served as a member of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) taskforce—formed by Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley in 2010—and co-chair of the workforce development sub-committee. “We studied how Maryland can be on the cutting edge of STEM disciplines, and what the challenges are. We found out that for every one student in Maryland graduating in civil and environmental engineering, there are two jobs available. Or, if you put it the other way around, for every job there is only half a student available. That means we have a 50 percent shortage of civil and environmental engineers.”
Despite a shortage of engineers, the industry has picked up over the last few years. “There is a lot of work in the DC metro area,” says Mr. Siddiqi. “Water and wastewater is one of the biggest markets here, with a lot of consent decrees between Baltimore City, DC Water, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, and Baltimore County. There is about $5 or $6 billion worth of consent decree work going on in this marketplace. Runoff cleanup is a several billion-dollar industry here.” Much of this work comes from a large-scale effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay. “There is a lot of push under the Clean Water Act for Chesapeake Bay cleanup. That is resulting in projects focused on controlling stormwater runoff.”
Transportation work is also picking up, regaining traction after the recession brought several sluggish years. “Since 2008, the state highway administration in Maryland had been limited by funding,” Mr. Siddiqi remarks. But now, projects that have been on hold due to funding are finally getting the green light.
EBA’s quality control capabilities are an ideal fit for big transportation projects. In addition to having two AASHTO-accredited materials testing laboratories, EBA’s on-site materials testing lab delivers on-the-spot testing, slashing costs and providing quick results to keep jobs on schedule. The company has developed and set up on-site materials testing laboratories for a number of projects, including the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. EBA’s testing facilities ensured that the hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of concrete used in these jobs were up to standard.
In another example, EBA just completed quality control work on two sections of a billion dollar project for Intercounty Connector Constructors (IC3), a public-private partnership between the Maryland State Highway Administration and the developers. Located in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, this design-build contract included EBA’s construction inspection and management services, as well as materials quality control management and inspection and on-site and off-site concrete testing services.
EBA is taking its on-site laboratory testing to the next level for Phase 2 of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s multibillion-dollar Silver Line Extension. For this design-build project, the team tests soils, cement mortar, grout, shotcrete, aggregates, and concrete at its state-of-the art, on-site testing center. EBA is providing all quality control for the job, covering construction inspection and management in addition to materials testing.
EBA plans to continue to focus on sectors that are gaining ground in the Metro Washington area. “The three growth areas that EBA has identified are water resources, asset management, and geospatial technologies,” says Mr. Siddiqi. The company is working to bring on more talent to continue providing a complete, one-stop-shop solution within these sectors. “We are very upbeat and hopeful about our future and looking forward to hiring more people.”