Geotechnical Consulting Board Threadlines of Geotechnical and Engineering Geology firms in the Greater Los Angeles Metro-Southern California Area

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Perry L. Ehlig, CEG (at CSULA 1956-99) and consulting engineering geologist

Perry L. Ehlig (1927-99) was born and raised in Temple City, and after serving in the Army Air Corps, attended UCLA California, graduating in geology in 1952, and began working on his PhD under John C. Crowell. He joined the Cal State LA geology faculty in 1956, co-founding the geology program with Jim Richmond. He completed his PhD dissertation in 1958, titled “The Geology of the Mount Baldy Region of the San Gabriel Mountains, California.” This work was eventually published in his 1981 article titled: “Origin and tectonic history of basement terrane of the San Gabriel Mountains, central Transverse Ranges,” in The geotectonic development of California. Perry rose through the ranks to full professorship at Cal State LA by 1967. He remained an active teacher until his death, in December 1999.

Perry began doing engineering geology consulting work for his UCLA friend and colleague Robert Stone, in 1954. His work for Robert Stone & Associates continued through the mid-1980s, and included several hundred projects, including: recognition and stabilization of landslides; evaluation and mitigation of ground water problems; fault studies; evaluation of rock hardness; geologic field studies to determine suitability for land development; evaluation of sites for reservoirs; evaluations of causes of distress in structures. He worked as an independent consultant on the Abalone Cove Landslide at no cost for 26 years. Other consultations of note in southern California include: the San Onofre Nuclear Generating station (1977-81) and the proposed low-level Tehachapi Tunnel 1983-84). He also served as a geologist for a number of cities. For 19 years, he served as an appointed member of the County of Los Angeles Engineering Geology Review and Appeals Board. He was also an active member of AEG.

Through his association with Stone, Perry began working on the Portuguese Bend Landslide in 1956, when the slide reactivated, precipitating costly litigation. This led to his ongoing consultations regarding the stabilization of the slide in 1979, which continued on a volunteer basis, until he died.

His major research interests were concerned with: the origin and evolution of the basement terrines in southern California, with special emphasis on the Pelona schist; displacement history of the San Gabriel and San Andreas faults; tectonic and geologic history of southern California; and mechanics of slow moving landslides.

Martin Stout, CEG (at CSULA 1960-90) and consulting engineering geologist

Marty Stout (1934-1994) was born in North Hollywood in Feb 1934, where he lived until 1946, when his family moved to the north shore of Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mtns. In the fall of 1951 he began studying geology at Occidental College, graduating in 1955. He attended the University of Washington for grad school, receiving his PhD in 1959, and began teaching geology at Cal State LA in 1960, where he remained the balance of his professional career, retiring in 1990.

Marty began working as a consulting engineering geologist working on the Conejo Volcanics on North Mesa near Thousand Oaks for Doug Brown at Moore & Taber. He ended up working on over 800 projects over a 34 year career, between 1960-94. Marty is particularly remembered for his fascination with large landslides, coining the term “megaslide” for those slides in excess of 10 million m3 at a special symposium on megalandslides he chaired at the annual GSA meeting in San Diego in Oct 1991. He also did some pioneering work on dating the Blackhawk Landslide (sturzstrom) along the north escarpment of the San Bernardino Mtns. He was probably, by all accounts, the most professionally-involved geologist in southern California, who sponsored numerous meetings and technical symposia for GSA, AEG, the South Coast Geological Society and the Inland Geological Society (of which he was a founding member). He was also active in Caltech’s Branner Club and was a member of the Examination Committee for the State Board of Registration for Geologists & Geophysicists (1980-86).
Robert T. Bean, CEG, CHG (at CSULA 1972-93); consulting hydrogeologist

Bob Bean (1913-2005) was a native of Canton, Ohio. He received his BA in math from Wooster College (Ohio) in 1934; and an MA in geology from Ohio State 1939. He came to California in 1942 to work on the hydrology of the San Dimas Experimental Forest. He was known for his pioneering work in groundwater hydrology, geohydrology, in southern California. Bob spent 20 years with the California Department of Water Resources in Sacramento, between 1947-66. In 1961 he served as president of the California Association of Engineering Geologists, which became AEG in Jan 1963. After leaving DWR he worked for the United Nations on water development projects in Central America from 1966-71, then returned to southern California and settled in La Cresenta, where he split his time between teaching hydrogeology at CSLA, Cal State Northridge, Occidental, and UCLA, as well as consulting. Between 1972-93 he supervised 12 master’s theses at CSLA on hydrogeology. He worked with Glenn Brown on a number of projects and remained active in southern CA hydrology consultations. After retiring in the early 1990s he moved to Claremont. He co-authored a GSA Special Paper (v. 338) on the California Water Plan in 1999.

Kim M. Bishop, PE, CEG (at CSULA 1993-present) and consulting engineering geologist

Kim Bishop grew up in the Los Angeles area and received his formal training at UCLA (BS EngGeol ’79), Cal State Northridge (MSCE ’85), Cal State LA (MS ’89), and USC (PhD EngGeol ’94). He is a registered civil engineer and engineering geologist. He worked for GeoSoils (1980-84), Pacific Soils (1984-88), and Lindmark & Associates (1992-93) before joining the geology faculty at Cal State LA in September 1993, where he specializes in engineering geology and structural geology. One of his most cited publications is Determination of translational landslide slip surface depth using balanced cross-sections, which appeared in Environmental and Engineering Geosciences in 1999. He was named Chairman of the Geology program at Cal State LA in the winter of 2007.

CSULA trained engineering geologists

Cal State LA certainly had some famous geologists matriculate through their program, including: Dick Proctor (’54 Chief Geologist MWD), Bob Tepel (’60; Chief Geologist SCVWCD), Monty Hampton (’65; USGS research geologist), Gary Stoney (’67; owner Stoney-Miller), James Rodine (’68; PhD ’75 Stanford; owner Steam Beer Mining), Jim Shuttleworth (’69; LACoDPW), Russ Harter (BS ’73; owner SGH Consultants), Eric D. Chase (BS ’74; HDR Sacramento); Gary L. Lass (MS ’78; owner Geo-Logic Assoc); Bruce Hilton, (BA ’78 & master’s courses, Chief Geologist Klienfelder-West), David Buesch (BA ’78; MS ’84; USGS), Keith Ehlert (MS, 1979), Kathleen Ehlig (BS ’78; Ventura Co Planning Dept geologist), Andrew Barth (‘80; Prof at Purdue), Joel Baldwin (MS ’80; owner Earth Investigations), Jay Noller (BS ’81; MS; Prof Oregon State), Lisa Wells (’82; Prof at Vanderbilt), Paul Davis (MS ’83; chief geologist at several firms), Steve Watry (MS ’83 Grover-Hollingsworth), Susan Kirkgard (BS ’84; Geocon West); Charlie Buckley, Richard A. Vogl (BS ’87; MS ’90 owner GeoHydrologic Consultants); Doug Santo (BS ’87 Chief Geologist American Geotechnical), Eldon Gath (master’s courses; founder of ECI), Charles Nestle (LACoDPW), Kim Bishop (MS ’89; Prof at CSULA), Chris Sexton (MS ’90; partner GeoDynamics), Jim O’Tousa (BS ’83; MS ’90; Ventura County Geologist), Greg Byrne (’88; Grover-Hollingsworth), John S. McKeown, CEG (BS ‘90; MS ’92, principal at CHJ Consultants), Jeff Knott (MS ’92; Prof at CSU Fullerton), Pat Smolenski, Pat Drumm (MS ’99; owner GeoFocus), and Eric Gorman (BS 2001; GSi), as well as others who went onto distinguished careers as professors or practitioners. A number of students never finished their MS degrees because the Cal State system discounted course credits more than 10 years old or they did not finish their master’s theses (difficult to do when working full-time).

Unknown/Independent threadlines
Ralph M. Parsons Co. (1944-79); Parsons Corporation (1979-present)

A full service civil design-construction firm founded by Ralph M. Parsons (1896-1974; BSE ’16 Pratt Institute) in 1944, after participating is several successful joint ventures with Steve Bechtel and John A. McCone. The company’s original focus was on oil refinery engineering, but within three years had expanded to architect-engineering, systems engineering, and turn-key design. In the 1950s and 60s the Los Angeles headquarters was located at 617 W. 7th Street. One of their first engineering geologists was Howard A. “Buzz” Spellman (from 1953-56). In the 1960s, the firm’s geotechnical group included: Jack E. Kelley, Don McCann (joined Glenn Brown in January ’69), John W. Foster and James G. Holwerda (BA Geol ’49; MS ’51; PhD ’58 USC) were among the engineering geologists attached to their geotechnical group in the 1960s, although many of then worked almost exclusively overseas. Holwerda became a groundwater expert and one of Parson’s VPs before retiring in 1990. Charles E. Bettenger and George Lunetta, Olin Twitchell, and Robert L. Wells joined the group in 1964. Kent McFarland joined in the late 60s. By 1968 the firm had established itself as one of the nation's largest engineering and construction firms, with projects totaling $1.2 billion. The corporate headquarters moved to Pasadena in the mid-1970s, consolidating its operations from four separate buildings in Los Angeles. The firm is 100% owned by an Employee Stock Ownership Trust and revenues exceeding $3.4 billion in 2008.

Southern California Testing and Geotechnical, Inc. (1971-78)

Neil H. Durkee served as the Vice President and General Manager of this testing firm’s branch office between 1971-75, before he started Irvine Soils Engineering (profiled below). One of their senior project engineers was Martin R. Owen, PE (1976-78), who went onto manage Leighton’s San Diego office from 1978-81, before founding Owen Geotechnical in San Diego.
Irvine Soils Engineering, Inc. (1978-87); Irvine Consulting Group (1987-93)

Irvine Soils Engineering was formed in 1978 by Neil H. Durkee, and based in Irvine. Previous to this Durkee had worked for L. R. Hubbard Concrete Construction’s San Diego operations, between 1968-71; for Riverside Cement Co. as their San Diego County rep from 1963-68, and for the DeVilbiss Co. as an industrial sales rep for spray-painting equipment (1955-63). He was never registered in engineering or geology, but had a BA degree in business administration from Woodbury College in Los Angeles. He focused on business aspects of serving the residential construction industry in Orange County. Some of their geotechnical engineers included Mike Miller, PE (1978-87), and Mark Hetherington, GE (BSCE ’75 Berkeley) (1976-80). The VP and Principal Geologist was Gary Stoney, CEG (1977-87), assisted by Rich Gorman, CEG (BS Geol ’75 CSPU Pomona) between 1978-87, and Eldon Gath, CEG (BS Geol ’77 Minnesota), who began his career as a soils tech with the firm, in 1979-80. Jim Fisher served as the firm’s office manager for many years.

Irvine Soils was dissolved around 1987, and Durkee formed Irvine Consulting Group. Durkee served as CEO of this firm between 1987-93, which grew to as many as 300 employees with sales of $16 million annually. He also started Highland Geotechnical Consultants in San Bernardino around 1978 (Paul Bogseth, CEG supervised the field testing services for Highland between 1978-85). When the break-up of Irvine Soils occurred in 1987, geologist Gary Stoney and geotechnical engineer Mike Miller formed their own firm, Stoney-Miller (profiled below).

In June 1988 Robert D. Perry, CEG (BA Geol ’61, Berkeley) succeeded Neil H. Durkee as President of Irvine Soils Engineering, Irvine Geotechnical Consultants, and Hydrotech Consultants, subsidiaries of the Irvine Consulting Group. Perry had joined the firm as their chief geologist in 1986.
Stoney-Miller Consultants (1987-present)

Two of Irvine Soils’ senior employees, Gary Stoney, CEG and Mike Miller, PE formed Stoney-Miller Consultants in 1987, based in Irvine, and branch offices in Laguna Beach and Carlsbad. Gary F. Stoney, CEG (BA Geol ’67 CSULA) was their Principal Geologist and Michael J. Miller, GE (BSCE Washington) the Principal Engineer. Miller served as President of CalGeo in 2006-06. By 2012 Gary Stoney had retired, leaving Miller as CEO. Hannes H. Richter, GE (BSCE ‘75 CSPU Pomona; MS ’78 Berkeley) served as their Chief Geotechnical Engineer and is currently the firm’s President. Kevin A. Trigg, CEG (BS Geol ‘81 USC) is their Chief Engineering Geologist. Other partners include Robert McCarthy, GE (BSCE UCI), Russell Lamb, GE (BSCE Oregon State; MS UCI), John P. Hunt, CEG (BA Geol CSU Humboldt), Erick J. Aldrich, GE (BSCE ‘95 CSPU Pomona; MS CSULB). Retired CSU Fullerton Geology Prof John H. Miller, PhD, CHG works out of the firm’s Carlsbad office, as does retired San Diego State Geology Prof. John Foster. Gary P. Mozingo, CEG (BS Geol UCLA) manages the firm’s northern California office in San Jose. The firm currently operates from four offices: in Irvine, Laguna Beach, Carlsbad, and San Jose.

Hetherington Engineering, Inc. (1985-present); Bogseth-Hetherington, Inc. (1987-95)

Founded in 1985 by Mark D. Hetherington, GE (BSCE ‘75 Berkeley), after working for Irvine Soils, the Bennett Co., and Owen Geotechnical in San Diego. The firm was originally located in San Juan Capistrano, and now has offices in Carlsbad and Laguna Beach. Paul A. Bogseth, CEG, CHG (BS Geol and Env Studies ’76 UC Santa Cruz; MBA ’85 Pepperdine) has been their principal geologist since 1987, when they formed Bogseth-Hetherington, Inc., which continued through 1995.

Earth Systems Consultants (1973-98); Earth Systems Pacific (1999-present); Earth Systems Southern California; Earth Systems Southwest

Firm founded by Albert Gribaldo, GE (of Gribaldo, Jacobs and Jones in the SF Bay area). Thye firm now has 15 offices throughout California. In 1973 they purchased Norm Hallin’s firm Buena Engineers, and Jack Rolston’s firm Foundation Engineering in 1995. In the late 1980s they formed Earth Systems Environmental, operating out of San Luis Obispo. Michael V. Smith, CEG (BA Geol ’70 CSU Fresno) joined the firm in 1981 and became President/CEO of Earth Systems, Inc. Group in 1994, working out of San Luis Obispo. Smith also served as President of CalGeo in 1997-98.

Earth Systems Pacific maintains offices in Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Salinas, Hollister, and Milpitas. Fred Potthast, GE has served as President/CEO, as well as Craig Hill, PE (BSCE ’81 CPSLO) and Dennis Shallenberger, GE (MSCE ’82 CSULB), out of the firm’s home office in San Luis Obispo. Rick Gorman, CEG (BS Geol ’75 CSPU Pomona) has served as VP and Chief Geologist.

Earth Systems Southern California maintains offices in Ventura, Van Nuys, Pasadena, and Palmdale. Pat Boales, CEG, CHG (BA Geol ’81 UCSB) serves as President and Senior Engineering Geologist of Earth Systems Southern California, in Ventura.

Earth Systems Southwest maintains offices in Rancho Cucamonga and Bermuda Dunes, where since 2001, the senior principal is Lutz “Yogi” Kunze, GE (former Chief Engineer of Smith-Emery Geoservices). Mark Spykermann, CEG (BA Geol ’76 CSU Fresno) serves as senior engineering geologist.
Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.

251 S Lake Ave. Pasadena, CA 91101, (213) 681-3781. Jim Roberts.

Earth Research Associates (1975-88); Petra Geotechnical (1988 - present)

Firm was originally founded in June 1975 by S. Allen Bell, CEG, RGp (BS Geol ‘64; MS ’67 USC) as Earth Research Associates and based in Costa Mesa. Bell served as the firm’s president up through the mid-1990s, when Robert W. Ruff, CEG (BS Geol ’74 SDSU) joined the firm after working for Converse in Anaheim and Southern California Testing in San Diego, assuming the firm’s presidency. David Hanson, PE (BS GeoE ’91 Arizona; MSCE ’97 CSULB) served as senior associate engineer from 1991-2012. Siamak Jafroudi, PE (MS Tehran Univ; MSCE and PhD GeotE ’83 UC Davis) joined the firm in January 1995, after working fro Woodward Clyude and ERTEC. He began purchasing Bell’s share of the firm’s stock, and owned a majority share by September 1999. Jafroudi assumed Presidency of the firm in January 2000. He also served as President of CalGeo in 2010-11. Ruff continues as Senior Vice President. From 2003-08 Monte Murbach, CEG managed their San Diego branch office. Monty Schultz, GE currently oversees their operations in the Inland Empire, and Alan Pace, CEG supervises their Palm Desert operations. Petra had six offices throughout southern California, as of the late 2000’s.

Applied Geosciences (1990s)

Based in Tustin. Operated by John Eric Jenkins c. 1990.

Terra Technology and Instrumentation (1980’s)

Founded by G. Hossein Bahmanyar, PhD, GE, in the 1980s and as an DBE. Located in the Winnetka section of Los Angeles, in the western San Fernando Valley. Worked on several underground instrumentation projects for the LA Co. Metropolitan Transit Authority.

D’Appolonia Consulting Engineers, Inc. (1977-87)

A satellite office of D’Appolonia Consulting Engineers, founded in 1965 by Alberta, Canada native Dr. Elio D'Appolonia, PhD, PE, NAE (BSCE ’42; MS ’46 Univ Alberta under R. M. Hardy; PhD ’48 Illinois under Nathan Newmark in structural engineering and applied mechanics). D’Appolonia served on the civil engineering faculty of the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) from 1948-56. It was during this time that the department needed someone to teach soil mechanics and foundation engineering, with which he became increasing fascinated. He began consulting in 1950, forming several small firms that dabbled in structural and geotechnical engineering.

During the summer of 1956 he decided to enter geotechnical engineering on a full-time basis, which led to several joint ventures working on a variety of projects. In 1965 he established D’Appolonia Consulting Engineers in Pittsburgh. D’Appolonia received the ASCE Middlebrooks Award in 1969 and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1977. He retired from the firm in 1983, after it had become a nation-wide entity. The firm later moved its headquarters to Monroeville, PA and established a satellite office in Genoa, Italy, which continue operating at present, on a wide variety of projects, world-wide.

The Orange County office was established in 1978-79; initially in Laguna Niguel, then in Mission Viejo, moving to Irvine in the summer of 1980, and later, to Orange. The office manager was Ed Sirota, GE, and in the 1980s Morris Balderman (1942-2006), CEG, CHG was their senior geologist, and Everett D. Schwantes, PE was a senior engineer. Balderman operated as an independent consultant for many years thereafter, until he passed away in 2006.

Remedial Action Corporation; MFG Inc.; Tetra Tech (1987-2002); Tetra Tech BAS

After D’Appolonia shut down their Orange County office, Edward B. Sirota, GE started Remedial Action Corporation, based in Tustin. He then began another environmental remediation firm, called MFG Inc., which specialized in bio-reactivation technology for activated carbon filtration media. He sold that firm to Tetra Tech Companies in 2002. He then founded Sirota & Associates in Santa Ana, doing geoenvironmental consulting.

Bryan A. Stirrat, PE (BSCE ’67 Missouri-Rolla; MS PetE ’72 and MS EnvE ‘74 USC) worked for the Los Angeles County Dept of Sanitation before founding Bryan A Stirrat & Associates (BAS) in 1984, which operated thru 2009. He is currently President of Tetra Tech BAS, the southern California affiliate of Tetra Tech, based in Diamond Bar. Stirrat served as project engineer for the first US EPA approved RCRA closure of a Class I, Hazardous Waste Landfill in the western USA, the BKK Landfill in West Covina. He also served on the California Integrated Waste Management Board’s advisory committee on the closure of municipal solid waste facilities, and was a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Solid Waste.

Oro Engineering Corporation (1981-present)

Founded in June 1981 by Robert Shubeck, GE, and based in the west San Fernando Valley. The firm performs geotechnical engineering, geology, and geotechnical site observations for the purchase of single family residences and investigative studies for distressed properties. They are one of the few small firms that promise to deliver reports within seven days of authorization, and hosts the site, mostly servicing the real estate transfer market. They also design and manage construction of engineered mitigations, such as retaining walls and slope repairs. Bob was later joined by his son Chris Shubeck, PE, and the firm is now based in Bell Canyon.

Allwest Geoscience, Inc. (1992-)

Founded as a full-service geotechnical and geoenvironmental SBE and DVBE firm in 1992 with offices in Orange, Riverside, Santa Clara and Contra Costa Counties (in Bay Area through acquisition of Hallenbeck Assoc. in 2002). In 2007 their principals included: Ambrose A. McCready, PE (BSCE ’72 CSU Sacramento), Joseph J. Miller, PE (BS EnvE CPSU San Luis Obispo), Mark J. Erickson, PE (BS EnvE CPSU SLO), Michael D. Geyer, PE (BS AgEng, BS Soil Sci ’85 CPSU SLO), Michael L. Leonard, PE (BSCE ’72, MS ‘74 Illinois), Lenard D. Long, GE (BSCE ’76 CSU Chico), Robert T. Quarles, PE (BSCE 2001 Georgia Tech; MS SDSU), and Adel Kasim, PhD, GE (MSCE ’73, PhD ’78 Berkeley).

California Geo/Systems (1992-present)

Founded in 1992 by Richard Ramirez, CEG (formerly of LACoDPW) and Vincent J. Carnegie, CEG, based in Glendale. They offer conventional geotechnical engineering and engineering geologic services. Carnegie serves as President and Richard Gladson is a Senior Geologist.

Firms in the Inland Empire
Pioneer Consultants (1964-87)

Pioneer Consultants was a geotechnical consulting firm founded in 1964 by David W. Turner, PE (1936-) (BSCE ’60 Arizona) and based in Redlands. In 1972 he formed Pioneer Drilling Co., which owned the drilling rigs used by Turner and other local consultants in the Redlands-San Bernardino-Riverside area. In 1974-75 Turner served as President of SAFEA. In the 1980s he formed Centrum Analytical, an environmental testing laboratory, to handle the increased demand for geoenvironmental work. For many years the managing engineer was Ronald F. Carducci, PE (BSCE ’64 Univ Windsor) and the businesses grew to employ more than 50 people. They often used Warren L. Sherling, CEG of Earth Technics in Temecula as their consulting engineering geologist. Pioneer maintained their own drilling rigs, and were the first firm in the Inland Empire to own and operate their own Cone Penetrometer Testing rig (a Hogentogler CPT), beginning in 1984. Their most notable project was probably the Lake Arrowhead Dam replacement with Dr. James Sherard in 1974-75. The firm was purchased by Schaefer Dixon Associates around 1987 (see Converse threadline).
Richard Mills Associates, Inc. (1970-77); RMA Group/RMA Geoscience (1977-present)

Founded by engineering geologist Richard B. Mills (1923-85) (BA Geol ’51 Berkeley) in 1970, after he had worked for his brother Robert’s firm, Associated Engineers of San Bernardino. Richard Mills Associates was originally based in Upland (where Mills lived). In June 1972 they moved into the same building with Associated Engineers in Ontario. The firm later moved to Alta Loma, which became Rancho Cucamonga in 1977. Throughout the 1970s they used Cal Poly Pomona Professor Larry Herber, PG as their principal geological consultant, and completed pioneering work assessing the Cucamonga and Indian Hill faults, along the front range of the eastern San Gabriel Mountains.

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