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

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LeRoy Crandall & Associates (1954-1984); Law-Crandall (1991-2002); MACTEC (2002-2011); AMEC (2011 to present)

Lionell LeRoy Crandall, GE (1917-2011) grew up in San Diego and went by the nick name “Buzz.” After attending San Diego State for two years, he transferred to U.C. Berkeley and received his BSCE in 1941. He took a position with Dames & Moore in December 1941, after working for the State Division of Highways in San Diego. He did not serve in the military during WW2, because he was performing critical engineering work for the war effort in southern California (he was registered as RCE 6157 in 1944). Crandall became the first junior partner with Dames & Moore in 1947 and was named the Los Angeles office’s Chief Engineer in 1952.

When Trent Dames shared his vision for going global with the firm’s business in 1954, Crandall decided to found LeRoy Crandall & Associates, which focused on traditional geotechnical work in the Los Angeles area. Structural engineer Clarence Derrick loaned the startup funds to Crandall to begin his firm. In the early years his biggest client was MWD, but also many others, including the Department of Defense and Ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach, etc.

The founding associates included Fred Barnes, Leopold (Leo) Hirschfeldt, and Russ Weber. Hirschfeldt (1921-1980) attended Stockholm Technical Institute, receiving his BSCE in 1940. In 1948, he came to the United States and worked for Dames & Moore from 1949-54. He served as Secretary-Treasurer of Crandall until his death in 1980, and he was one of the founding principals of ASFE in 1969. Fred Barnes (BSCE ’38 Berkeley) ran the firm’s field services division, and Jim McWee was chief inspector.

Some of the early junior partners included Jimmy Kirkgard, Seymour Chiu (from Taiwan), Jim van Beverin, Bob Chieruzzi, Perry Maljian, and Carl Bock (went onto International Testing in Costa Mesa). In the late 1960s Jimmy D. Kirkgard, GE (BSE 1953; MS ‘54 UCLA) became the chief engineer and was responsible for supervising all the office engineering operations for many years. In January 1975 Glenn A. Brown, CEG merged his engineering geology firm of four people with Crandall, and served as their senior engineering geologist until April 1993. Marshall Lew, GE (BSCE, MS, PhD ’75 UCLA) joined the firm in 1977 and became the last associate in 1981. Franklin Fong, GE (BSCE ’71 CSPU Pomona; MS ’72 Berkeley) worked for the firm from 1986-94.

Crandall & Associates was originally based out of office at 1619 Beverly Blvd., along what was then known as “structural engineer’s row.” Around 1970 they moved a short distance away, to a building they purchased on Alvarado Street in Los Angeles. Crandall was named as one the original members of the newly formed California Seismic Safety Commission in 1975.

After the acquisition by Law Engineering in 1982 the firm had grown to 75 employees and needed more space. All of the properties along Alvarado were held by the earlier partners in the firm, so they moved to the Glendale location (900 Grand Central Ave.). When Law purchased the firm LeRoy Crandall retired (he was 65), but remained active on the board. The firm didn’t change its name to Law-Crandall until 1991, when they moved down to The Citadel on the I-5 Golden State Freeway, near Garfield Avenue, on the border of the City of Commerce. In 1999, Crandall severed all ties to his old firm and formed Crandall Consultants, Inc. specializing in geotechnical forensic engineering services. MACTEC took over Law/Crandall about 2002. In 2007 they moved to a location on Slauson Ave in Los Angeles.

LeRoy Crandall participated in the EERI Oral History Series and a volume profiling his career prepared by Stanley Scott was published by EERI in 2008. Crandall was a long-time member of the Los Angeles Grading Appeals Board for the Dept of Building & Safety; other members included Fred Converse, L.T. Evans, and Tom Clements.
Glenn A. Brown – Consulting Engineering Geologists (1967-75)

Glenn Alvin Brown, CEG (1924-2015) was born in Hollywood and graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1942. He served on the aircrew of Navy PBM-5 Mariner flying boats stationed at Coco Solo, in the Panama Canal Zone during World War II (1942-46). After the war, he used the GI Bill to attend college at UCLA, where he received his BS in geology in 1951. He then joined the California Division of Water Resources as an engineering geologist, and co-authored the Division of Water Resources Bulletin 15, Geology of San Jacinto and Elsinore units in Santa Ana River investigations, released in 1959. In 1958, he was placed on loan to the State Water Rights Board, where he served as senior geologist on the water rights litigation over the San Fernando Valley. In the early 60s he also worked on DWR’s California Water Project, mostly across the Tehachapi Range and into Castaic Reservoir.

In 1963 he accepted a position with Geotechnical Consultants at the firm’s Burbank office, also working for the firm’s Santa Ana office. In 1967 he founded his own consultancy, based in Tujunga. Don McCann, Mervin E. Johnson, Monte Ray, Alice Campbell, and Gary Guacci all worked for him at one time or another during the late 1960s-mid 70s. His firm was absorbed into Crandall & Associates in January 1975 and he remained with Crandall as their chief engineering geologist until retiring in April 1993.

Glenn served as President of AEG in 1966 and was appointed to the first State Board of Registration for Geologists and Geophysicists (BRGG) for California in 1969. In 1981 Glenn and Dick Proctor co-authored the Professional Practice Handbook of the Association of Engineering Geologists. They also completed a second edition, published in 1985. In December 2001 Brown was appointed to represent the City of Burbank on Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors, upon which he remained until shortly before his death, in February 2015. In 2006 Glenn received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Groundwater Resources Association of California in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Science and Understanding of Groundwater Resources.
Leighton thread (in Caltech threadline)
F. Beach Leighton & Associates (1961-72)

Freeman Beach Leighton (1924-2012) was the son of Dr. Morris M. Leighton (1887-1971), Chief of the Illinois State Geological Survey from 1923 to 1954. His name was taken from two family surnames, his mother’s maiden name having been Ada Beach. They decided to call him by his middle name (Beach) because it was easier. Beach grew up in Urbana, because the Illinois Survey’s offices were on the campus of the University of Illinois (his younger brother, Morris W. “Brud” Leighton, also served as Chief Geologist of the Illinois Survey, between 1983-94). In 1941-42 (between his junior and senior year of high school) he lived in Los Angeles with his uncle, who had recently purchased a vermiculite mine in the Virgin Mountains, south of Mesquite, and east of Overton, Nevada. Beach graduated from high school in 1943, during the Second World War. He immediately tested for and was accepted into the Navy’s accelerated V-12 officer candidate program, majoring in civil engineering. The Navy sent him to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. After suffering peritonitis, he took two geology courses (because the engineering courses he needed were not available) and an interest in geology was kindled. He completed his BS degree in general engineering in February 1946. On graduation day he was 21 years and 2 months old. He was also commissioned as a Naval officer and married his high school sweetheart, Wanda Jean Downey. He then attended the Navy’s disbursing officer’s school at Harvard, and was posted to Panama for a year (1946-47) as a supply officer. As his naval service came to a close, he applied to the geology programs at Caltech and UCLA, and was accepted at Caltech first, so that’s where he began his graduate work in geology in the fall of 1947.

Leighton completed his MS in 1949 with a thesis on glaciology, under Prof. Robert P. Sharp (who had previously taught at Illinois, after graduating from Caltech and Harvard). It was during the summers working for Sharp that he employed Navy boson’s rope ladders to descend into glacial crevasses up in Alaska. This experience led to his use of boson’s rope ladders in the 1960s to descend bucket auger holes to map the subsurface geology of hillside developments.

Beach made several lasting friendships at Caltech that proved valuable in his subsequent career. Foremost among these was Geomorphology Professor Bob Sharp (1911-2004), Seismology Professor Clarence Allen, CEG, RGP, Geophysics Professor Joe Birman, CEG, RGP, CHG (at Occidental College), and Caltech Professor Leon Silver, a geochemist. Beach received his Ph.D. in geology from Caltech in 1952, with an emphasis on industrial minerals, under Prof. Ian Campbell, studying the Gold Butte vermiculite deposits at his uncle’s mine in the Virgin Mountains of southeastern Nevada. Shortly after the birth of his first child in 1949-50, he began teaching geology at Whittier College, as their only instructor in geology. He remained on the faculty until 1975, when he retired.

Leighton’s entry into geotechnical consulting came about in 1961 through the patronage of the Sunset International Petroleum Co. of Riverside, who developed much of the Puente Hills in Hacienda Heights (adjacent to where Beach and Wanda were living). That referral came from LA County Geologist Doug Brown, RG, PE, who was impressed by a letter Beach sent the County Engineer’s office warning about the potential perils of grading the northern slope of the western Puente Hills because of the adverse dip of the strata. Beach and Wanda worked out of their home, an old farm house at 2732 Hacienda Blvd. in Hacienda Heights.

They soon garnered a part-time staff of seven employees. Beach’s first employees were two of his former Whittier College students: Dave Adams (BA Geol ‘57 Whittier) in 1962, followed by Larry Cann (BA Geol ‘57 Whittier) in April 1963. The first of many independent contractors was Harry Lawrence (BA Geol ’55 Occidental; MA ’56 Caltech) in 1962, who taught geology at Pasadena City College (PCC). He was followed shortly thereafter by Bill Cotton (BA Geol ‘62, MA ‘67 San Jose State), who also taught geology at PCC, from 1964-70. The geotechnical firms Leighton supported most during the 1960s were the Donald R. Warren Co. (their principal contacts being Cecil Collins and Herb Nicola) and Leroy Crandall & Associates.

In 1963 Beach moved the small operation to a real office with 2,000 sq ft of floor space on Whittier Blvd. in La Habra, where they eventually grew to have 15 full-time and 15 part-time employees. In 1969 the firm moved to a much larger, 5,000 square foot office on Beach Blvd. in La Habra. There David G. Campbell was among the roughly 20 full-time employees. The firm was a sole proprietorship until 1970, when F. Beach Leighton & Associates (FBLA) was incorporated. FBLA moved to Orange County in 1973, because that’s where bulk of their business was. Woodward-Clyde attempted to purchase FBLA in 1971 to serve as their engineering geology arm.

During the 1960s FBLA also began working with Dr. Bing Yen, GE as the soils engineering consultant on many of their development projects. Yen taught soil mechanics at Long Beach State. In September 1972 they established Leighton-Yen Associates as a separate geotechnical engineering services company, but this did not last more than a year or so. Later in 1972 they formed Earth Science Planning, which provided planning related services, such as environmental impact reports. Their new associate in this venture was Don Asquith, an old Caltech colleague of Leighton’s who had had just completed his PhD at UCLA. In late 1972 Mike Scullin, CEG (BS Geol ’58 Arizona State) was brought in from Slosson & Associates to head this group, while Rich Lung, CEG (BA Geol ‘54, MA ‘58 UCLA) came over from Stone Geological Services as the firm’s new chief geologist. Doug Moran, CEG (BS Geol ‘58 USC) briefly served as chief geologist and vice-president in 1973-74.
Leighton & Associates, Inc. (1974-present)

Leighton’s first branch office was established in 1971 in San Bernardino, by Gary Rasmussen (BS Geol ‘67 Arizona). Other “field offices’ were established around this same time, including those in Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Agoura Hills, Mission Viejo, and Sherman Oaks. They even operated a small office in the San Francisco Bay area (Los Gatos and Redwood City) between 1971-81. The regular Irvine office was opened in 1973, which allowed better proximity to work in southern Orange and San Diego Counties. Doug Hildenbrandt, Ron Lejman, and Jerry Groves were soils engineers at Irvine.

The successor firm to Leighton-Yen Associates was called Leighton Geotechnical Associates. This was incorporated into Leighton & Associates, Inc. in 1974. The firm’s spaces in the Skypark Circle complex on Main Street in Irvine tripled in size in 1974. Bruce Clark (BS Geol ‘63 Yale; Ph.D. ‘67 Stanford) joined the firm in 1977, after teaching structural geology at University of Michigan. Iraj Poormand, GE (MSCE, San Diego State) joined the firm in early 1978, succeeding Doug Moran as their chief engineer. Ronald J. Lejman, GE was a senior engineer from 1973-79. The firm moved to their building on Dureya Avenue in Irvine on Thanksgiving weekend 1982. Poormand continued as Chief Engineer until his semi-retirement in 2005 (and he died in 2010).

Other branch offices were established in the 1970s and 80s: The Riverside San Bernardino office was established in 1971 and managed Gary Rasmussen, and later by Sid Siddiqui (after Rasmussen started his own consultancy in 1977). Hayim Ninyo and Rick Zeiser ran the Orange County office in Irvine (from 1977-86, when Rick started Zeiser-Kling). A San Diego office was established in 1977 and managed by Avram Ninyo, GE, from 1977-78, and then by Martin R. Owen, GE (BSCE ’67 Glasgow Univ; MS ’68 Berkeley), from 1978-81. When he founded Owen Geotechnical in 1981 in San Diego, Avram Ninyo managed Leighton’s San Diego office until 1986, when he opened a new North San Diego County office in Carlsbad, before starting his own firm (Ninyo & Moore) six months later (profiled below). Greg Farrand, CEG was the senior geologist in the San Diego office in the late 1980s. Leighton also opened a branch office in Walnut (near Diamond Bar, in eastern Los Angeles County) in 1977, managed by Don Brockway. A Ventura County office opened in Westlake Village in 1978, managed by Fred Gebhardt. A Coachella Valley office served the lower desert market beginning in 1978, managed by Bret Inghram. And, a Santa Clarita Valley office in Valencia opened in 1984, managed by Bruce Hilton, CEG.

Leighton was known for employing part-time geologists with strong resumes, many from the ranks of academia. During Leighton’s early years. In addition to Harry Lawrence and Bill Cotton, these included: Don Asquith (BS ’50 Caltech; MS ‘52 Kansas), Edward G. Heath (BA ‘52 Pomona, MA ‘54, Claremont Grad Sch), Frank Kenton, Bob Dickey (BA ‘64 Pomona College), Walter Reiss (MA ’50 Caltech), John Hanson, Joe Johns (BS ‘65 Arizona State), Steve Ellen (BA ’64 Amherst; MS ’71, PhD ‘73 Stanford), Dennis Hannan (who later became principal CEG), Bob Sydnor (BS ‘69 Whittier; MA ’75 UCR), Pete Tresselt (PhD in geology, later taught at Fullerton CC and CSU Fullerton), Jack Hoefferle, Bruce Hilton, CEG (BA Geol ’78 CSULA), Ed Steiner, John Franklin (BS ’75 USC), Rosalind Munro, Don Terres, and Eldon Gath, CEG (BS ’78 Minnesota) was principal geologist from 1989-96. Some of the senior geotechnical engineers included Ross Khiabani, GE, and Djan Chandra, GE, among others.

Bruce Clark, PhD, CEG was President and CEO of L&A from about 1988 to 2003. Beach credits Bruce Clark was being the moving force in growing the firm intelligently and possessing the necessary business savvy to survive in the volatile (up and down) and all-too-often litigious southern California marketplace. At its peak (around 1988) the firm had 395 employees in 11 offices.

In 1997, the company underwent significant reorganization, splitting into five operating companies under the umbrella GTG Inc. Leighton & Associates for residential projects (Bruce Clark President), TerraTest for laboratory and materials testing, Gradient Engineers for construction management (Dale Bodman, GE President), Enviro-Pacifica for environmental consulting, and Earth Consultants International for high-level geologic consulting, internationally. The experiment was ultimately unsuccessful and by 2000, ECI’s principals had purchased the company from GTG, and TerraTest and the environmental company had been absorbed back into Leighton. Bruce Clark retired about 2003, with Andy Price assuming the L&A presidency. By about 2005, the company restructured again into two divisions, one for residential (Leighton & Associates) and one for public works/commercial projects (Leighton Consulting). Andy Price (CEG) and Terry Brennan (accountant) as Presidents. Gareth I. Mills, CEG (BA Geol 1985 Aston Univ; MS 1990 CSUN) joined the firm in 1996 and now serves as a principal geologist with the managerial group in Irvine. Lauren Jelks Doyel, GE (BS Geol ’84 Stanford; MSCE ’98 SJSU) joined the firm as a principal in 2012.

Envicom (1972-85)

Envicom was a environmental planning firm co-founded by Don Asquith, CEG, RGP (BS ’50 Caltech; MS ’52 Kansas; PhD ’72 UCLA), after running Earth Science Planning for Beach Leighton. Asquith sold his share in 1985 and co-founded the Morro Group in San Luis Obispo County, where he remained until retiring in 2000.

Bing Yen & Associates (1979-1998); BYA-ATC Group Services

Founded by Bing Cheng Yen, GE, completed his BSCE at National Taiwan University in 1956. In 1959 he began graduate study at the University of Utah, working with Prof. Andrew W. Jenike (1914-2003) in their Bulk Solids Flow Laboratory. Yen’s thesis topic was titled “Slope Stability in Axial Symmetry,” and his PhD was conferred in 1963. He served as an assistant professor at Utah (1963-64) before accepted a position in soil mechanics at Long Beach State University, where he taught from 1964-89. During this time Yen was in a partnership with Beach Leighton for about 18 months, in 1972-74. He appears to have incorporated Bing Yen & Associates (BYA) in 1979, as an MBE and DBE firm with their main office in Irvine.

Principals and key employees included: Glenn Tofani, GE, Greg Silver GE, Larry Taylor, GE, and Matt Hunter, CEG, GE, Bill T.D. Lu, GE (MSCE ’67 Duke; PhD ’73 Caltech), and David W. Sykora, GE. The first four were former graduate students under Dr. Yen at Cal State Long Beach. The firm later established a branch office in Ventura area, where Lauren Jelks Doyel, GE worked.

In 1998 the firm was sold to ATC Group Services, and was based in Irvine. Glenn Tofani went onto found Geokinetics; Greg Silver joined Goffman, McCormick and Urban, Inc. (which became GMU Geotechnical, Inc.); Larry Taylor formed Taylor Group, Inc., Matt Hunter formed Laguna Geosciences, Bill Lu founded TDL Engineers, David Sykora joined Exponent, and Lauren Jelks Doyle joined Leighton.

Zeiser Kling Consultants, Inc. (1987-2010); Kling Consulting Group (2011-present)

Founded by engineering geologist Frederick “Rick” L. Zeiser, PG, CEG and geotechnical engineer Henry F. Kling, GE (BSCE ’87 CSULB) in 1987. Prior to starting this firm Rick Zeiser was Chief Geologist for Leighton & Associates’ Irvine office, between 1984-87. The firm’s home office was in Santa Ana, with a branch office in Riverside. Roy Kroll, CEG (BS Geol ’79 CSULB) was an engineering geologist for them between 1987-96. Kling served as President of CalGeo in 1998-99. In 2008 Zeiser retired, but the firm was dissolved in 2010. In February 2011 Kling founded Kling Consulting Group, Inc., based in Irvine.

Constant & Dickey (1986 - 2004)

Founded by Brian D. Constant, GE and Robert H. “Bob” Dickey, PE, CEG around 1986, based in Anaheim. From the mid-1960s thru the mid ‘80s Bob had worked for Leighton & Associates, then operated as Bob Dickey Consulting Geologist and Soils Engineer, out of San Juan Capistrano. Dickey also appears to have managed M&T AGRA’s (formerly Moore & Taber) Anaheim office in the early 1990s.
NGM Geotechnical, Inc. (1994 - present)

Firm founded by Hayim Ninyo, GE (BSCE Robert College-Istanbul; MS ’76 Berkeley), Tetsuo Ted Miyake, PE (BSCE and MS Stanford), and WilliamBill” Goodman, CEG (BA Geol CSUF), after having worked for Leighton. The firm is based in Irvine. Associate engineers include Chester Burrous, GE (BSCE and PhD Washington), Karlos Markouizos, P E (BSCE CSULB), Bob Karimi, PE (BS Geophy UTEP). Senior engineering geologists include Terri Wright, CEG (BS Geol CSULB), Tom Devine, CEG (BS Geol and BS Bus CSUF), Lynne Yost, CEG (BA Anthro and BS Geol CSUF).

Genterra Consultants (1995 – present)

Joseph J. Kulikowski, GE was an Associate and Managing Principal of Wahler & Associates Newport Beach office from the late 70s’ until about 1992, when he became the managing principal of the Los Angeles Region for Leighton & Associates. In January 1995 he founded Genterra Consultants, Inc. to provide civil and geotechnical engineering for water storage, water conveyance, flood control and other types of facilities. The firm specializes in dam safety engineering, levee safety engineering and in the design, evaluation and rehabilitation of all types of dams, levees and appurtenances. Genterra's headquarters are in Irvine, with branch offices in Northern and Southern California, working with Hultgren-Tillis, Taber Consulatnts, and Praad Consultants.
Earth Consultants International (1997-present)

ECI was founded in 1997 as an independent operating company under GTG Inc (formerly Leighton & Assoc.). Eldon Gath - President, Tania Gonzalez – VP, along with Professors Kerry Sieh (Caltech), Prof Robert Yeats (OSU), and Prof Tom Rockwell (SDSU). Kerry Cato, CEG (PhD ’91 Texas A&M) was with the firm from 1999-2003. In 2000, the company was purchased from GTG by Gath, Sieh, Gonzalez, Rockwell, Yeats, Mitch Bornyasz, Doug Bausch, Kay St. Peters, joined in 2001 by Drs. John H. Foster (BA Geol ’70 SDSU; PhD ’80 UCR) and W. Richard Laton (BS Geol ’89 St Cloud State; MS ’92; PhD Hydgeol ’97 Western Michigan) at Cal State Fullerton.

By 2012, the company has completed projects in Turkey, Panama, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Honduras, Mexico, Israel, Japan, Taiwan, Portugal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and the USA. Other professors they use as consultants include Jon Bray of Cal Berkeley and J. David Rogers of Missouri S&T.
LGC Geotechnical (2001 – present)

LCI Geotechnical is based in San Clemente. The principals are Timothy Lawson, GE, CEG (MS ‘85 Univ of Portsmouth-Great Britain), Dennis Boratynec, GE (BSCE ‘95, MS 2003 Univ Alberta), and Kevin B. Colson, CEG (BS Geol ’93; MS ‘96 SDSU). Firm evolved from Lawson & Associates Geotechnical Consulting (founded in May 2001). LGC Coastal is based in San Clemente, LGC Inland in Murrieta run by Mark Bergmann, CEG, and LGC Valley in Valencia, staffed by Mark Hawley, CEG. All of these individuals were former employees of Leighton & Associates.

Woodward-Clyde threadline (southern California)
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