Matern engineers mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems to provide basic infrastructure services like lighting, temperature control, running water, Internet and fire protection in large commercial buildings. The company offers a multi-division design, engineering and commissioning services in new and existing buildings. Ryan B. Strandquest, senior vice president and Erica Shay, director of marketing and business development, told us more about the firm and its services.
While architects tend to win great awards for beautiful designs, we often forget that even award-winning buildings are nothing unless they are built to function properly. Matern Professional Engineering does exactly that with offices in Orlando, Fort Myers, Jacksonville and Tampa.
After installation, its energy and commissioning engineers evaluate the health of the systems and report any deficiencies or energy conservation issues that may arise. The firm mainly works in the State of Florida and is licensed in Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, as much of its work in these areas is contracted by the federal government.
Matern is a collection of teams, each with its own focus and specialization: aviation, commercial, commissioning and energy, education and special projects. The aviation team designs airport facilities such as terminals, hangars and baggage and ticket areas, while the commercial team focuses on municipal and federal projects such as correctional facilities, emergency operations, administrative spaces, barracks and convention centers.
The commissioning and energy team focuses on evaluating systems in existing buildings and in new, green structures that must qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications, which were implemented in 2009. The education team works on public and private school buildings (K-12, College and Universities), as well as any ancillary structures there may be. The special projects group works on facilities for private clients, sporting facilities and more complex, state-of-the-art projects like cogeneration plants, geothermal cooling and solar energy generation.
Matern Professional Engineering, Inc. was founded in 1984 in the State of Florida by Douglas P. Matern PE, a professional electrical engineer and graduate of the University of Central Florida. In 2013, he sold 12.5 percent of his shares to Ryan Strandquest, Adrian Baus and Judy D’Angelo, all senior executives of the company. Since then, an executive team and a management team assist in the day-to-day decision-making that has kept the firm strong and responsive and has secured its longevity. It has evolved from providing basic mechanical and electrical engineering services to offering an extensive range of specialty engineering services in all facets of the field.
Its founding philosophy is to provide a “positive, can-do” attitude and to strive for a “zero defect” set of construction documents, which has led to years of repeat clients.
Matern is in the people business and welcomes diversity, taking care of both its staff and its clients through staying true to its core values. The firm believes in respect, ethical business practices, integrity and accountability. It is committed to excellence and knows that its power is in its people. At Matern, family comes first. It genuinely takes care of its people, who happily attest to what a great and creative place it is to work.
It is no wonder then that everyone here strives to build long-term relationships with the company’s clients. Matern believes in partnering with them to design and solve specific problems by understanding the client organization’s philosophies. In so doing, the business has grown significantly, especially in the last few years. It has over twenty-five long-term service contracts with various government entities in the State of Florida, as well as approximately twenty clients that it supports throughout the state. It also works with a pool of thirty architects and contractors on a regular basis.
Matern is a great innovator and works hard to provide quality engineering at every phase of design and construction. It prides itself on adhering to industry codes and standards while finding solutions that save its clients’ money in both up-front costs and long-term savings. Ease of maintenance is always taken into account, and its number one priority is protecting clients’ interests throughout the process and ensuring that the product that is delivered is as they had envisioned it.
Matern has a solid team of sixty-one staff members who are encouraged to upgrade skills and knowledge through ongoing technical education and training. Its ‘lunch and learn’ initiative offers an hour-and-a-half information session, once or twice a week, at which any of its staff members can learn about specific codes, products, design elements and more from any one of its divisions. This gives staff overall insight into the company and provides them with the knowledge and the ability to exceed industry standards in service.
Investing in its team members has certainly paid off over the years. Matern has been an engineering design services provider to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority at Orlando International Airport for the last thirty-four years. The Aviation Authority recently awarded Matern the largest project the firm has ever won. It will add on an international south terminal complex to alleviate the international traffic in the north terminal, with an estimated construction cost of $1.2 billion for the first phase of construction. “We’re pursuing phase two of this expansion in the next couple of months. It’s a very important endeavor for our firm,” says Ryan.
In 2009, Matern designed one of the largest hybrid-geothermal cooling systems in the State of Florida for Volusia County Schools. The result will be an energy saving of over $3.2 million over its twenty-year lifecycle. Both the water and the financial saving on this project were important considerations for the environment and the state.
Another considerable milestone was reached when, in 2011, the firm designed the first combined heat and power plant for the University of Central Florida’s main campus. The plant is designed to capture wasted energy from the turbine, which is applied to provide 1,000 tons of chilled water for the campus’ cooling system. This is also known as a cogeneration or a combined heat and power plant.
The energy produced from natural gas reduces its environmental impact from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by thirty percent. This renders the electricity produced by the new plant one-third cleaner than the equivalent energy purchased from the university’s energy supplier. The university’s statistics show that the plant now generates about $2.5 million in savings, annually.
Judging by this data, educational institutions stand to benefit from Matern’s services in a big way. Over the last five years, it designed and implemented thermal energy storage systems, also known as ice storage, that have achieved a total of $4 million in energy rebates for local school districts and municipalities.
It is no big surprise then that this forward-thinking team has won a number of awards in recognition of its great work over the years. In 2013, it was announced one of the top engineering firms by the Orlando Business Journal, and it also received the small business advocate of the year award by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority in the same year.
It has won the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration Engineers (ASHRAE) Technology Award for its Thermal Energy Storage project at Hernando County’s Weeki Wachee High School, while the Society of Design Administration named it Firm of the Year in 2008.
Matern does not only focus on financial gain, however. It gives back to its community with gusto. Ryan is personally involved in the Pathways Drop-In Center, a daytime shelter for homeless people with mental disabilities. The firm also supports the Foundations for Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole County Schools; Seminole State College Foundation and A Gift for Teaching in Central Florida.
It donated time to design facilities for Haiti after the earthquake, Pathways Drop-In Center, United Cerebral Palsy, Boys and Girls Club and Harbor House, a federally protected domestic victim facility. Matern also hosts programs for high school students that introduce them to careers in architecture, construction and engineering. In addition, it gave approximately $20,000 to various other charitable organizations in 2017.
In the wake of all this hard work, the firm has been growing in different sectors. It is expanding its work in the federal government, healthcare, forensic engineering and expert witness areas, and its building commissioning division is currently the fastest-growing division within the firm.
Ryan’s vision for the future is clearly defined. “I would like to continue the legacy that Doug Matern started for Matern Professional Engineering in 1984: providing quality engineering, always having a ‘can do’ attitude, instilling a family first mentality in our employees and creating a workplace culture that makes employees excited about coming to work,” he says.
Ryan is a firm believer that by taking care of his team, his customers will reap great benefits. He has brought an unorthodox approach to some of Matern’s design and internal staffing needs while it has grown from an electrical-only firm to one that provides consulting engineering in six or seven engineering disciplines.
He describes his management style as reflecting the core value of putting family first. “Our firms’ employees work hard, and we also enjoy our time together in corporate and non-corporate events. Matern is not just a workplace; it is also a place where friends are made for a lifetime,” Ryan says. And in this lies the firm’s greatest strength.
Where the workforce is professional, happy and relaxed, creativity soars. This is what makes Matern unique. In the wise words of Vince Lombardi, the famous Italian-American football hero of the 1960s: “Perfection is not attainable, but in chasing perfection, we shall catch excellence.” In such a solid team that operates laterally rather than top-down, Matern clients can rest assured that someone will always have their back.