Richard L. Meehan – Consulting Geotechnical Engineer (1984 – 2002)
For almost 20 years Dick Meehan, GE maintained a geoforensic engineering consultation business on Welch Road just off the Stanford University campus, while teaching at Stanford University as an adjunct professor, between 1980-2005. His principal assistant was Lauren Jelks Doyel, GE (BS Geol ’84 Stanford; MSCE ’98 SJSU). Dick achieved considerable notoriety for his professional writing.
In April 1971 he and Doug Hamilton, CEG published a memorable article about the Baldwin Hills Reservoir failure that appeared in the journal Science: “Ground rupture in the Baldwin Hills: injection of fluids into the ground for oil recovery and waste disposal triggers surface faulting.” In the 1980s Dick penned a pair of books published by MIT Press: Getting Sued and Other Tales of the Engineering Life (1981) [required reading for ASFE members for many years]; The Atom and the Fault: Experts, earthquakes, and nuclear power (1984). In 1986 he published “The battered exclusion:
who pays how much for California landslides,” published by Stanford University Press. The 1971 article and the three books are among the most cited literature in geotechnical engineering.
Dick was also the principal plaintiff’s expert in Paterno et al vs the State of California flood case between 1986-2004, with an award to the plaintiffs of $550 million, the largest flood damage settlement in US history at that time (prior to Hurricane Katrina). He also worked on forensic consultations in Los Angeles involved with sinkholes and gas expulsion. In 2002 he retired and moved to Bangkok, Thailand.
Donald Hillebrandt Associates (1975-present)
Founded by Don Hillebrandt, GE (BSCE ‘61, MS ’64 Berkeley) in San Francisco in 1975, after having worked for Lowney-Kaldveer. The principal geologist who worked with him was Jim Predergast PE, CEG of JCP Engineers and Geologists in San Jose. Another senior employee was Gary Carpenter, GE, who went on to work with Don Banta. Don closed his office in San Francisco around ~1984 and moved to his home in the Oakland Hills on Clive Drive, focusing on forensic work for attorneys. He served as just about every geotechnical engineer’s expert witness in various litigations over the ensuing 30+ years.
Associated Geotechnical Engineers, Inc. (1975-94)
Firm founded as an MBE by Billy M. Lin, GE in 1975 and operated out of San Jose. Paul C Denton, CEG was a staff geologist in the late 1970s, and John W. Leonard, GE (BSCE ’65, MS ’67 Berkeley) was a senior geotechnical engineer, after having worked for Lowney-Kaldveer. Some of his employees included David Yang, GE (BSCE Nat Taiwan Univ; MS Tohoku Univ; PhD ’82 Purdue) from 1982-85, and James McCarty, PE (BSCE SJSU). After closing the business around 1994, Lin moved to Chico.
Cleary Consultants, Inc. (1977 - present)
Founded in 1977 by J. Michael Cleary, GE, CEG (BS GeoE ’66 Nevada-Reno; MSCE ’68 Berkeley) and based in Los Altos. Mike began his professional career working with Lowney Kaldveer. The firm’s current President is Chris Ciechanowski, GE (BSCE ‘96; MS SJSU), and Vice President is Grant Foster, GE (BSCE ’95 Berkeley; MS SJSU). Tom DeSimone and Jennifer Hedvall are staff geologists. Former employees include Eric A. “Rick” Swanson, GE (BS Geol ’78 SJSU; MSCE ’80 Berkeley) and Rex Upp, Ph.D., GE, CEG (profiled below).
Donald E. Banta & Associates (1978 – 2010)
Founded by Don Banta, GE, a native of Sacramento, who attended graduate school at Nevada-Reno (MSCE ’70 Nevada-Reno). The business was based in Mountain View and he was assisted for many years by Gary Carpenter, GE. Keith Johnson, PE was a staff engineer in the early 1980s. The firm appears to have closed its doors around 2010.
Alan Kropp & Associates (1979-present)
Founded by Alan L. Kropp, GE (BSCE ’71 CSPU Pomona; MS ’73 Berkeley) in 1979 in Berkeley, after working for Lowney Kaldveer and Peter Kaldveer Associates. Over the years some of the principals have included J. David Rogers, PE, Pete Mundy, PE, R. John Caulfield, PE, Mike Thomas, PE (BSCE, MS ’84 Michigan) Bill Langbehn, PE, James L. Vais, GE (BSCE ’75; MS ‘79 Berkeley), James R. Lott, GE (BSCE ‘81; MS ’82 Michigan), Lisa Splitter, GE (BSCE ’03 CPSLO; MS ’04 Berkeley), Marlene Jackson, Wayne Magnusen, Thomas M. Brencic, PE (BS ERE ‘98 Humboldt), Alma Luna, PE, Jose Serrano, PE, and serveral others.
Nordmo Associates, Inc. (1981-unknown)
Founded by Kyrre P. Nordmo, GE (BSCE ’55 Sweden; MS work ‘61 Washington) in 1981, after he worked for Shannon & Wilson in Seattle and for Wahler & Associates. The firm was based in San Jose, and later, out of Nordmo’ s home in Belmont. Lew Rosenberg, CEG (BS Geol ’84 New Mexico Tech; MS ’93 SJSU) was staff geologist between 1985-89, when he moved to Earth Systems’ branch office in Hollister.
Upp Geotechnology (1983-2013); C2Earth, Inc. (2013-present)
Founded by R. Rexford Upp, PhD, GE, CEG (BS EnvEng ’66 Berkeley; BA Geol ’75, BS Env Res Eng ’75, MS ’75 Watershed Mgmt; and PhD Eng Geol ’83 Stanford). Rex’s graduate work for Gary Carver at Humboldt State included pioneering research in landslide length-to-width ratios. He started his firm in 1983, after working for Cleary Consultants from 1977-83, while completing his doctoral research at Stanford with Professor Dick Jahns. The firm was based in San Jose. Some of his associates included Jim Falls, CEG, Mark F. Bauman, CEG, Mark W. McKee, GE, Robert Urban, CEG, Craig N. Reed, GE, CEG, and others. Rex served as President of CalGeo in 2011-12.
In January 2012 Upp sold the firm to Craig N. Reed, PE, CEG (BSGeoE 2001 Wisconsin; MSCE 2007 SJSU) and Chris Hundemer, CEG, CHG (BA Geol ’96; MS ’98 UCSC; MSCE 2007 SJSU), who had worked for him previously (Hundemer had also worked for Treadwell & Rollo from 2007-13). In April 2013 Reed and Hundemer reformed a new firm they named C2Earth, Inc., with offices in Campbell and Aptos. Cooper Dressler and Tyler Nakamura are staff geologists with the firm.
Freeman-Kern Associates (1982-2001)
Founded in 1982 by Jerry Freeman, CEG and Michael A. Kern, CEG, based in San Jose, and later, out of Saratoga, where Jerry resided. After Kern moved to Reno, Freeman operated as JF Consulting.
Founded in May 1984 by J. David Rogers, GE, CEG, CHG (BS Geol ’76 CSPU Pomona; MSCE ’79; PhD Geot ’82 Berkeley) in Lafayette until 1986, then in Pleasant Hill, with a branch office in Van Nuys (1990-96). Rogers had previously worked for Alan Kropp. Principals included: R. John Caulfield, GE (BSCE ’81 Berkeley; MS ’83 Stanford), who went onto become CEO of Jacobs Assoc in SFO; Mike Scullin, CEG (BA Geol ’58 Arizona State; MBA ‘81 Redlands), Mitch Wolfe, CEG, Phil Gregory, GE, and Rob Olshansky, AICP (BA Geol ’74 Caltech; MA ’75 Brown; MCP ’82; PhD ’87 Berkeley). Senior associates included: Robert B. Rogers, GE (BSCE ’68 CSPU Pomona; MEng ’80 Berkeley), Fred H. P. Chin, PE (PhD ’85 Berkeley), William K. Langbehn, GE, Ray Fisher, GE, Greg Bellas, PE (MSCE ’85 Berkeley), W. Mark Storey, PE (BA Geol; MSCE SJSU), Sandy Figuers, PE, RGP, CEG, CHG, Patrick L. Drumm, CEG, CHG, Peter K. Mundy, GE, W. Mark Myers, GE, David Buscheck, PE, David L. Snyder, CEG, and Eric L. Smith, CEG. Frequent consultants included: William E. Mero, RG (MA Geol ’62 Berkeley), Roger Greensfelder, RG (PhD ’81 Stanford), Darwin Myers, PhD, CEG, J. Ross Wagner, PG (PhD ’78 Berkeley), Ron Crane, RG (PhD Geol ’60 Indiana), Glenn Borchardt (PhD Soil Sci ’69 Oregon State), Anna Buising, PG (PhD Geol ’88 UCSB), and arborist Joseph McNeil. Several derivative firms listed below.
Pacific Geotechnical Engineering (1988-2010); Geo-Logic Associates, Inc. (2010-present)
Founded by Peter C. “Pete” Anderson, CEG (BA Geol ’66 Colby College; MS Geol ’83 SJSU) in 1988 after working for Terratech in San Jose, from 1979-88. The firm has always been based in Morgan Hill. Other senior staff include Soma B. Goresky, GE (BS EnvSci ’86 UCSC; MSCE ’89 SJSU), G. Reid Fisher, PhD, CEG (BA Geol ’80 Carlton; PhD Geol ’87 Nevada-Reno) joined the firm in 1999, Daniel J. Peluso, GE from 1999-2010, John Feltman, and Corinne Stewart (BS Geol ’95 SJSU). In 2010 they became the northern California branch office of Geo-Logic Associates, Inc. (profiled below).
Hoexter Consulting, Inc. (1992-present)
Founded in 1992 by David F. Hoexter, CEG, REA (BA Geol ’73 UCSB; MS ’75 Stanford) after having worked for Shell Oil, Dames & Moore, Woodward Clyde, Hallenbeck, Lowney, Kleinfelder, and Kaldveer. His firm is based in Palo Alto.
Fisher Geotechnical (1993-present)
Founded by Raymond L. Fisher, GE (BS Math ’75 SFSU; MSCE ’85 SJSU) of Rogers/Pacific in 1993, initially in Pacifica, later, moving to Half Moon Bay. Ray had previously worked for Harding Lawson and Treadwell & Rollo. He grew up in Pacifica and has math and civil engineering degrees from SFSU and SJSU.
Cal Engineering & Geology (1993-present)
Founded by Philip Gregory, GE (BSCE ’83; MS ’84 Berkeley) and Mitchell Wolfe, CEG (BA Geol ’76; MS ’82 SJSU) in 1993, and based in Walnut Creek. Phil had worked previously for Tensar and Rogers/Pacific, while Mitch had worked for the US Forest Service (Klamath NF), Seidelman & Associates, and Rogers/Pacific. Senior staff includes Mark Myers, GE (BSCE ’93 Case Western; MS ’95 UC Davis), David Buscheck, PE (BSCE ’93 Berkeley), Chris Hockett, PE, Eli Zane, PE, Dave Berger, CEG (BS Geol 2002 UC Davis), and Tim Keefer, PE.
Norfleet Consultants (1994 – present)
Founded by Sands H. Figuers, PE, CEG, PGP, CHG (BA Geol’75; BSCE ‘79 Lafayette College; PhD Geol ’88 UTEP). Firm founded in 1994 and based in Livermore, after Sandy worked for Gulf Oil in Houston, Chevron Overseas Petroleum in San Ramon, and for Rogers/Pacific. Sandy served on the California State Board of Mines and Geology, and has been an elected member of the Alameda County Zone VII Water Board for many years.
William K. Langbehn, GE (1997-2001); Langbehn Geotechnical Group (2001-present )
Founded by Bill Langbehn, GE (BSCE ’84; MS ’86 Berkeley) originally in El Sobrante, and now in El Cerrito. Bill had previously worked for Alan Kropp & Associates and Rogers/Pacific and specializes in geotechnical studies of the northern Berkeley and El Sobrante Hills, including assessment of active faults and ancient landslides. He continued the landslide mapping begun by Dave Rogers (in 1983-86) and Alan Kropp (1986-95) of the ancient landslides mantling the western slopes of the Berkeley and Oakland Hills, based on aerial photo interpretation, broken curbs, severed utilities, etc. The firm’s senior staff engineer is Orion Agnew, FE (BSEnvE 2010 UC Merced).
Peters & Ross (1997-present)
Geotechnical and geoenvironmental consulting firm established in 1997 by Peter K. Mundy, GE (BSCE ‘80 Pittsburgh; MS ’86 Michigan) and based in Pleasant Hill. Pete had previously worked for Alan Kropp (1981-83), Warzyn’s Chicago office (1985-88), Rogers/Pacific (1988-90), and Golder Associates’ office in Alameda.
Geolith Consultants, Inc. (1998-2001)
Founded by Dave Rogers of Rogers/Pacific (profiled above) in January 1998. Principals were J. David Rogers, CEG, CHG, Patrick L. Drumm, CEG, CHG (BS Geol ‘85 West Virginia; MS ’99 CSULA), and Fred H.P. Chin, PE (PhD ’85 Berkeley). The firm was based in Pleasant Hill, until Rogers moved to Missouri in August 2001, and the firm closed. Senior staff included office manager Gene Williams (BS ’60 New Hampshire), J. Brooks Ramsdell, CEG (BS ’96 CSUH; MA ’99 USC) and Kaini Butte, PE (BSCE ’96 Berkeley). Consultants included Leo A. Devito, CEG, Roger Greensfelder, PhD, RG, Glenn Borchardt, PhD, and Ron Crane, PhD, RG.
Redwood Geotechnical Engineering (1998-present)
Founded by geotechnical engineer N. Joseph “Joe” Rafferty, GE (BSCE ’73 CSU Chico; MS SJSU) in Morgan Hill, after Terratech broke up in 1998.
Romig Engineers (2000 - present)
After serving as Vice President at Lowney Associates, Glenn A. Romig, GE (BS GeoE ’80 Idaho; MSCE ‘84 Purdue) started his own firm, Romig Engineers, Inc. in 2000, originally based in Redwood City, and now in San Carlos.
EarthFocus Geological Services (2002-present)
Founded by Patrick L. Drumm, CEG, CHG (BA Geol ’79 West Virginia, MS ’99 CSULA) in 2002 and based in Fremont. Previous experience with RSA, Inc and Leighton & Associates in southern California, under Mike Scullin, Rogers/Pacific (1994-97), Geolith (1998-2001), and Gilpin & Associates (2001-02).
Geo-Logic Associates (2007-present)
Founded in March 1991 by Gary L. Lass, CEG, CHG (BS Geol ’74 UCLA; MS ’78 CSULA) and based in Claremont. He originally used Bryan A. Stirrat, PE (BSCE ’68 MSM-Rolla; MS Pet Eng ’72 and EnvEng ’74 USC) of Bryan A. Stirrat & Associates (BAS) in Diamond Bar as his engineer, until about 1999. Prior to the start-up Gary Lass had worked for Moore & Taber (1977-90), serving as President and Principal Geologist. The firm specializes in geoenvironmental engineering, with particular emphasis on landfills. Around 2005-07 they opened up branch offices in Grass Valley and Morgan Hill. Robbie M. Warner, GE (BA ’86 UCSC; BSCE ’87 and MS Berkeley, formerly with Caltrans and Rizzo & Assoc) in Morgan Hill; Ken Criley, Laboratory Manager in Grass Valley; Chalerm (Beeson) Liang, PE, GE (Pacific Geotechnical Engineering), Principal Geotechnical Engineer in Morgan Hill; Jake Russell, PE - Manager, Engineering Services Manager in Grass Valley; Monte Christie, PE, GE (BSCE ’92; MS ’97 Berkeley) is their Mining Services Manager in Nevada City; Scott Purdy, CEG, PG is the Principal Geologist in Grass Valley. In 2010 they acquired Pacific Geotechnical Engineering of Morgan Hill (profiled above).
Cornerstone Earth Group (2007- present)
Firm founded in 2007 by several principals from Lowney Associates, with offices in Sunnyvale and Walnut Creek. Their geotechnical principals include: C. Barry Butler, GE (BSCE ’85 CPSLO;MS ’93 Berkeley), John R. Dye, GE, Scott E. Fitinghoff, GE, Laura C. Knutson, GE, Danh T. Tran, PE, and their senior engineering geologist was Philip A. Frame, CEG (1946-2010). Environmental principals include: Ron L. Helm, CEG, REA, Peter M. Langtry, CHG, CEG, and Kurt M. Soenen, PE.
A3GEO, Inc. (2010 – present)
Founded by Wayne D. Magnusen, GE (BSCE ’83; MS ‘88 Berkeley) in October 2010, after having worked for Alan Kropp & Associates (2005-10) and Fugro-Subsurface Consultants (1998-2005). The other partner is Dona Mann, GE, (BSCE ‘95 Virginia Tech; MS ’98 Berkeley). Mann also worked for Alan Kropp between 2005-10. Magnusen serves as the President and Mann as the Vice President. The firm is based in Berkeley.
Geotechnical firms in the greater Sacramento area
The earliest geotechnical firm operating in the Sacramento area was O. J. Porter & Co., established in 1942, and headquartered in Sacramento (described in the Caltrans thread). In March 1953 C. Lee Lowry joined Porter’s firm, working out of their Bay Area and Sacramento offices until April 1960, when he formed a partnership with Bruce McCreary and Leland Roberts (described below, under Lowry & Associates). In the 1960s Porter’s Sacramento office operated under the name Porter, O'Brien, Consulting Engineers, until February 1966. That year the name of the Sacramento operation was changed to Porter, Armstrong, Ripa & Associates, the same as that of the Newark, NJ office. Pappy Porter's son, James Porter (1928-1987), was the Vice President of his father's companies at that time, and managing the Sacramento office. On December 18, 1967 Pappy Porter died at age 66 in Madison, New Jersey. A few months later Jim Kleinfelder made his first acquisition of another firm, purchasing the assets of Porter, Armstrong & Ripa’s office in Sacramento, which became Kleinfelder’s Sacramento office, managed by Michael E. Mahoney, PE (described in the Kleinfelder threadline).
Moore & Taber, Engineers and Geologists (1956-74); Moore & Taber Geotechnical Engineers & Geologists (1974-90); Taber Consultants (1983-2016)
Firm founded by Return F. “Ret” Moore, PE, CEG (1923-2015) and Harmon Ray Taber, PE, CEG (1927-2011). Moore was born in Los Angerles in 1923, but grew up in Long Beach. He was valedictorian of David Starr Jordan High School in 1941, and attended Long Beach City College, graduating in June 1943. In July he enrolled at Caltech in the Navy’s V-12 program, majoring in civil engineering. In the late summer of 1944 he was commissioned in the Navy Seabees and assigned to the 17th Naval Construction Battalion, which sailed from Port Hueneme in September 1944, arriving on Saipan, where they built airfields. From there, he moved to Okinawa in late June 1945. He was discharged from the Navy in June 1946 and enrolled at Caltech, where he completed his BSCE in civil engineering in June 1947, and spent another year and a half working on BS and MS degrees in geology (but never completing the required thesis). In December 1948 he accepted the first “engineering geologist” position with the Foundation Investigation Section of the State Division of Highways Bridge Department in Sacramento.
Harmon Ray Taber, PE, CEG (1927-2011) (BS Geol ’48 Stanford) was from a pioneer family that ranched the Capay Valley near Esparto. He attended Stanford for about a year on the Navy V-12 program during the Second World War, then deployed to the Pacific as an enlisted electronics tech. In mid-1946 he returned to Stanford and finished his BS in geology in 1948. In 1949-50 he returned to undertake graduate work in civil engineering so he could secure an engineering position with the Division of Highways in Sacramento. In June 1950 he began working in the bridge department. From 1950-55 Moore and Taber developed written procedures to guide bridge engineering studies, which included a thorough engineering geologic examination of all sites, including borings on both upstream and downstream ends of any supporting bent.
In 1955 Ret Moore left the Division of Highways and founded his own firm, named Geo-Engineering. About seven months later he persuaded Ray Taber to join him as a principal. In 1956 they formed Moore & Taber, with Moore as president, and shortly thereafter, Ret Moore opened their office in southern California, while Ray Taber operated the office in Sacramento. Ray was a charter member of the California Association of Engineering Geologists in 1957 and served as AEG President in 1963-64, when the association went national.
The firm’s southern California office was located in Fullerton, and later, in Anaheim, with branch offices in Bakersfield, Sacramento, and San Diego. Ray Taber lived in Davis and worked out of the northern California office in West Sacramento. During the late 1960s Moore & Taber also opened a branch office in Santa Rosa. The senior engineering geologist at that office was William N. Schlax, occasionally assisted by Charles L. “Van” Van Alstine, GE, CEG (MSCE ’66 Berkeley). The branch was shut down during the recession of the early 1970s.
In 1974 the company split into two separate firms, Moore & Taber Northern California and Southern California. In 1983 the northern California entity was renamed Taber Consultants, and remained in West Sacramento. Ray Taber continued working until 1990, when he retired (he passed away in 2011). Frank Taber, GE (BSE 1979 UCD; Geol courses ’81 CSUS) served as the firm’s president from June 1979 until 2016. Andy Taber (MBA ’77 UCR) served as the firm’s Chairman, while Exec VP Martin W. McIlroy, PE, CEG (BS Geol 1994 UC Davis) managed the firm’s West Sacramento office until Feb 2016, when he joined Shannon & Wilson. Other senior staff included VP Dave Kitzmann, PE, CEG (BS Geol 2002 Old Dominion), senior engineering geologist Eric Nichols, PE, CEG (BSGE 1990 UNR), and Tom Ballard, CHG (BA Geol ’78 Montana; MBA ’88 Denver), who served as the firm’s principal hydrogeologist. Other senior staff included: Ron Loutzenhiser, GE, Glen Wade, PG, and Eric Hilmer, CEG. The firm was purchased by Crawford & Associates in the spring of 2016, and Rick Sowers and Frank Taber now work for Crawford.
Lowry & Associates (1960-95)
C. Lee Lowry, Jr., GE (1926-2009) was born and raised in the Fresno area and served in the Navy during the Second World War. After the war, he attended Fresno State College (1947-48) and U.C. Berkeley, where he received his BSCE degree in January 1951. He took a position with the State’s San Francisco Bay Toll Crossings of the Department of Public Works, working on the design of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, between 1951-53. In March 1953 he took a position with O.J. Porter & Co., and became RCE 9104 in July 1954. He remained with Porter until 1960.
In April 1960 he formed Lowry & Associates in partnership with Bruce McCreary and Leland Roberts, based in Sacramento (at the same time McCreary-Koretsky Engineers was formed, described in the Caltrans threadline). The firm provided consultations in soils engineering, pavement design, and materials testing for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area. In March 1962 he purchased Roberts’ interest and the firm was restructured from a partnership to a corporation, with Lowry and McCreary as the principal stockholders. That same year McCreary introduced Lee to Joan Taylor, whom he married in September 1962, and moved to Roseville. Between 1968-72 Leonard O. Long, PE managed a branch office of Lowry & Associates in Alameda. Lowry served as ASFE President in 1975-76. Sometime in the late 1980s he moved the firm’s office closer to his home, in Roseville. Some of his engineers included Tom Wallace, GE, who served as President of SAFEA in 1977-78, and who founded Wallace-Kuhl Consultants in 1984 (profiled below), and Paul Weidig, GE. The firm ceased doing business in early 1995.
Geomechanics (1975-84); Anderson Consulting Group (1984-2002)
Gery Frank Anderson, GE, CEG (BS Geol ‘64; MS Geol ’69 SJSU) began his career at Earth Systems Consultants (see Gribaldo et al threadline). Around 1975 he moved to Sacramento to form Geomechanics, Inc. Gery was formally trained as a geologist at San Jose State, and received his CEG registration in 1969. While working on his master’s at SJSU he took soil mechanics courses and gained sufficient work experience to qualify for the PE exam, which he passed in 1974, and grandfathered as a GE in 1987.
Lee Lowry (ASFE President in 1975-76) of Lowry & Associates and Tom Wallace (President of SAFEA in 1977-78) of Wallace-Kuhl filed several grievances against him, complaining about his work. Being cross-registered, Gery was pretty savvy about the geotechnical business, and served as President of ASFE in 1986-87, the first engineering geologist to head that national trade organization! Geomechanics eventually became Anderson Consulting Group, based out of Roseville, as an ESOP firm. John A. Baker, GE (BSCE ’68, MS ’73 Berkeley) directed Anderson’s geoenvironmental group for many years. They were purchased by ENGEO in 2002, when Gery Anderson retired.