Caltrans Engineers and Geologists who transitioned to the private sector
Many of the State’s most prominent transportation and structural engineers, as well as engineering geologists, have come from the ranks of the Division of Highways, Bay Toll Crossings and their successor agency, Caltrans. One of the most famous personages in pavement and geotechnical engineering was O. James ‘Pappy” Porter (1901-67), profiled below. Other Division of Highways personnel who went onto stellar careers in the private sector include: Ralph A. Tudor (founder Tudor Engineering Co.), Donald R. Warren (founder Donald R. Warren Co.), Leroy Crandall (founder Crandall & Associates in Los Angeles), Stanley D. Wilson (founder of Shannon & Wilson), Douglas C. Moorhouse (CEO of Woodward Clyde Consultants), Jack Rolston (founder of Foundation Engineering Co.), C. Lee Lowry (founder of Lowry & Associates), Alvin L. Franks (founder of A.L. Franks Engineering), Harry Cedergren (renown seepage expert), Ret Moore and Ray Taber (founders of Moore & Taber), Dick Frankian (founder of R.T. Frankian & Associates), Albert C. Gribaldo (founder of Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones and Earth Systems Consultants), E. Duane Lyon (CEO of the RMA Group); Jim Kleinfelder (founder of Kleinfelder & Associates), Tom Wallace (founder of Wallace-Kuhl Associates), Ron Carducci (founder of Cal-West Consultants), Gerry Diaz (founder of Diaz-Yourman Associates), Abel Soares (founder Soares Geotechnical), Herb Volin (founder of Diablo Soils Engineers), Douglas J. Kuhl (co-founder of Wallace Kuhl & Associates), Alan L. Kropp (founder of Kropp & Associates), and Robbie M. Warner, GE (co-founder of Geo-Logic). Engineering geologists who began their careers at the Division of Highways included Bruce D. McCreary (founder of McCreary-Koretsky Engineers); Jack T. Eagen, CEG (Sr VP at Moore & Taber), Charlie Marek, CEG (pioneering work with hydraugers), James H. Gamble, CEG (Chief Geologist of PG&E), and David G. Heyes, CEG (partner at Geo-Risk Associates).
O.J. Porter & Co. (1942-55); Porter-Urquhart & Associates (1950-53); Porter & O’Brien (1952-67); Porter, Urquart & Beavin (1953-57); Porter, Urquhart, McCreary & O’Brien (1955-60); Porter, O’Brien & Armstrong (1962-65); and Porter, Armstrong, Ripa & Associates (1962-67)
O.J. Porter & Co. was founded by Omer James “Pappy” Porter (1901-67) of the California Division of Highways in Sacramento, in early 1942. Porter was a third generation Mormon born in Mt. Pleasant, Utah on November 28, 1901. He attended Alberta Agricultural College in Olds, and then transferred to the University of Alberta, receiving his BSCE degree in 1924. He took a part-time position with the California Division of Highways in 1924, mixing and testing concrete specimens in Sacramento. The quality of his work and his enthusiasm for tinkering soon landed him a full-time position in the transportation lab.
Porter went onto to serve as Associate Physical Testing Engineer, then as Staff Materials and Research Engineer in the Materials & Research Department of the State Division of Highways in Sacramento, under the direction of Materials & Research Engineer Thomas E. Stanton, Jr., PE (BSCE 1904 Berkeley). Their collaboration was one of the most prolific in pavement design and geotechnical engineering.
Between 1927-30 Porter developed the California Bearing Ratio (CBR) and soil swell tests, building on his relative compaction test. The CBR test measured penetration of compacted soil to evaluate the relative stiffness of pavement subgrades and base courses, by comparing the penetration resistance of these materials with that of crushed limestone. The stated intent of the CBR test was to evaluate the load bearing capacity of the pavement subgrade.
In 1928-29 Porter then developed the nation’s first compaction test procedure for the Division of Highways, a simple device and scheme that measured a soil’s wet unit density and determined the optimum moisture content, using a very similar scheme to that made famous by Ralph Proctor five years later, in 1933. Known as the “California impact compaction test” or the “relative compaction test,” it is still used by Caltrans as California Test Method 216 (described in T.E. Stanton, 1938, Highway Soil Studies: Calif Hwys Pub Wks, v14:6 (June), pp. 12-14; and in T.E. Stanton, 1938, Soil Stabilization, Calif Hws Pub Wks, v14:7 (July), pp.12-15).
In the early 1930s Porter also pioneered the use of sand [wick] drains, which were installed on the eastern approaches to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 1933-35, along with standpipe piezometers to record pore pressure induced by the fill surcharge. These are generally considered the first successful employment of wick drains in the United States (see Porter, O.J., 1936, Studies of fill construction over mud flats: Proc. Int’l Conf Soil Mech & Fdn Eng, Cambridge, v. 1:229-235).
Between 1930-47 Porter developed a series of retractable plug piston samplers in an array of sizes, between one and four inches in diameter, and between 1.5 and three feet long. They were initially known as “Porter Type Soil Samplers,” then as “Porter Tube Samplers,” or simply “Porter Samplers.” Competing drive samplers (without retractable plugs) were developed by Moran & Proctor, the Gow Division of Raymond, Sprague & Henwood, Dames & Moore, and the patented Pitcher Sampler developed by John Pitcher in South San Francisco (see description under “Evolution of Porter Soil Samplers 1930-47”).
In 1942, soon after the United States entered the Second World War, Porter formed his own consulting company, O.J. Porter & Co., specializing in soils, pavement design, and foundation engineering, based in Sacramento. Pappy Porter did a lot of consulting work for the Navy’s Bureau of Yards & Docks and the Army Corps of Engineers (which continued through 1964). He also became the central figure of the Corps of Engineers Airfield Pavement Design Advisory Council, providing advice on a program of extensive pavement tests at the “Stockton Test Track” at Stockton Airfield, south of Sacramento, which led to the development of Flexible Pavement Design Manuals and the Modified Proctor Compaction Test in 1945. Porter was also dispatched by the Army to Guam, Saipan, and Tinian in 1944 to advise the Corps of Engineers on airfield construction for the B-29 Superfortress bombers. In 1946 Porter began submitting patent applications for a number of devices, including a massive 240 ton rubber tired “supercompressor,” intended to increase the insitu density of pavement subgrade for airfields.
In 1947 Porter established an east coast office in Montclair, New Jersey to work on the soil settlement problems in the New Jersey Meadows area, during construction of the New Jersey Turnpike. In the post-war period Porter employed sand drains and surcharge embankments to allow development of settlement-prone wetlands, similar to the technique he used in the early 1930s. His business quickly expanded, and the following year (1947) he was recommended by Professor Ralph Peck to mitigate similar soft soil problems in some peat deposits adjacent to Chicago’s new O’Hare Field, just beginning construction. At that time the soils had some of the lowest CBR values imaginable for a major airport runways (CBR = 3, 4, or, at most, 5), so Porter became an integral member of the airport consulting team (which included Ralph Burke, Ralph Peck, Nate Newmark, R. R. “Bob” Philippe [Corps of Engineers-Cincinnati], and Chicago geologist George Otto).
Around 1949-50 Porter moved their East Coast office to Newark, New Jersey where that office provided consulting services on a wide range of projects beyond the New Jersey Turnpike, including the Ohio Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, the Connecticut Turnpike, the Northern Illinois Toll Highway, Interstate 71 in Ohio, Interstate 81 in Virginia, Newark Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and New Jersey’s Round Valley Reservoir.
In addition to the original office in Sacramento, branch firms/offices were established in San Francisco (working on Interstate 15 in Utah, the Port Chicago Ammunition Depot, San Francisco Int’l Airport, and many others) and Los Angeles (see the Los Angeles area threadline), as well as overseas field offices, mostly associated with defense design and construction contracts. Porter eventually maintained offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montclair, NJ, and later, Newark, NJ, up thru his untimely death, in December 1967. Porter-Urquhart was the firm name used in the Newark-New York City area, from 1950-53, when Porter formed his first partnership, with retired Corps of Engineers Colonel Leonard C. Urquhart (1886-1960; BSCE ’09 Cornell), who taught engineering at Cornell between 1914-42 (also author of the original Civil Engineer Handbook, which appeared in three editions during the 1940s and 50s). This became Porter, Urquart & Beavin, when he took on partner Benjamin E. Beavin, PE (1902-1981), a civil engineer from Maryland. The last firm name employed from the east coast office in New Jersey was Porter, Armstrong, Ripa & Associates, formed in 1962 with Ellis Leroy Armstrong (1914-2001), who had recently stepped down as Commissioner of Public Roads in the Eisenhower Administration, and architect George Ripa (1902-unkn), who had previously practiced in New Jersey and Maryland.
A separate entity with the same Newark address, named Porter & O’Brien, was incorporated in New Jersey and California in 1952, between Porter and civil engineer Kenneth O’Brien. They offered full architectural-engineering design services for military installations, targeting work with the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense, mostly on overseas airfields (e.g. Morocco). O’Brien then moved to Los Angeles to manage the Los Angeles office of Porter, Urquhart, McCreary & O’Brien in 1952, which became Porter, O’Brien & Armstrong in 1962 (see below), and continued operating through 1968.
The principals listed in the Sacramento office in 1952 included Porter, W.H. Jervis, and Bruce McCreary, with senior associates G. D. Potts, R.W. Brandley, and E.M. Shay. O.J. Porter & Co operated until 1953, when each office became a separate partnership. In March 1953 C. Lee Lowry (BSCE ’51 Berkeley) joined the 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). Porter’s sister offices continued operating in San Francisco and Los Angeles for many years thereafter, using the same addresses. One of their earliest Bay Area employees was Earle Klohn (BSCE ’50, MS ’52 Univ Alberta) from Winnipeg, who joined San Francisco office in 1952 (he went onto found Klohn-Leanoff in Vancouver, BC then joined Charles F. Ripley [MSCE ’46 Harvard], and later, became professor of soil mechanics at Alberta).
In Jan 1955 the federal government sued Porter-Urquhart and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for collusion in the manner they purchased stationary and other paper goods using a cost-plus fixed fee basis during the construction work in North Africa, and prevailed. O.J. Porter & Co. and Porter-Urquhart ceased doing business after the judgment was sustained in the appellate court.
Bruce D. McCreary had been an investor in the Porter partnership that designed overseas air force bases in Morocco for the US Air Force in the early 1950s. He was a geology and ROTC graduate of Stanford in Dec 1939 and served as a combat engineer officer in the Army during the Second World War. After the war he joined the California Division of Highways, employing the techniques Porter had pioneered to construct highway fills across soft soils. Porter hired him to work in his Montclair, New Jersey office in 1948, where he supervised the firm’s work on the New Jersey Turnpike.
In the fall of 1955 Porter formed another partnership with McCreary (registered as RCE 8778 in CA in 1953) and Ken O’Brien (registered as RCE 8523 in 1952), called Porter, Urquhart, McCreary & O’Brien (PUMO), operating out of offices in Newark, New Jersey, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The Sacramento, LA, and SF offices engaged primarily in west coast public works projects (transportation and water resources), while the New Jersey office continued working on overseas airfield projects and domestic transportation projects along the eastern coast and Midwest. Bernard B. Gordon, PE (BSCE ’36 MIT) worked for PUMO out of their 1140 Howard St. San Francisco office in the mid-1950s, before joining the California DWR (he went on to serve as the senior geotechnical engineer on the Oroville Dam Project in the late 1960s). Their principal emphasis was on transportation projects, including bridge design, but some of their projects included feasibility studies on the American and Yuba River basins.
In the latter half of 1962 Porter brought in fellow Mormon Ellis Leroy Armstrong, PE (1914-2001) (BSCE ’36 Utah State) to become a partner in Porter, O’Brien & Armstrong incorporated in California, with Porter listing himself as “managing partner.” Armstrong had recently stepped down (March 1961) as Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads in the Eisenhower Administration, then served as president of the Better Highways Information Foundation in Washington, DC in 1961-62. Porter, Armstrong & Ripa Associates was the name of the firm incorporated in Newark, New Jersey. The firms continued to operate from their offices in Newark, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, bidding highway and defense work across the nation.
The San Francisco office operated as Porter, O’Brien and Armstrong (POA) between 1962-68. Richard Appuhn, PE, CEG (BSCE ’62; MS ’63 Berkeley) worked for POA in 1962 (before becoming Dick Goodman’s graduate student), and was succeeded by Francis A. Stejer, CEG, who worked for POA in the early 1960s, when their work focused primarily on highways (he went onto Dames & Moore). Porter, O’Brien & Armstrong appears to have continued operating in San Francisco until about 1965.
The 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. Ellis Armstrong operated Armstrong & Associates for about a year before being named U.S. Commissioner of Reclamation by President Nixon, between 1969-73.
McCreary-Koretsky Engineers (1960-70); McCreary-Koretsky International (1970-74)
In April 1960 Bruce David McCreary (1917-2012) (BA Geol ’39 Stanford) left PUMO and joined with Sanford “Sandy” Koretsky (1915-82) to form McCreary-Koretsky Engineers, a civil-structural-construction management firm, based at 1140 Howard St. in San Francisco (Koretsky was registered as RCE 7122 in 1947). The firm’s focus was on transportation and water resources development, esp. the five hydroelectric power plants constructed along the Middle Fork of the American River for the Placer County Water Agency between 1957-67. They also entered into several joint venture water resources projects in northern California and southern Oregon with Clair A. Hill & Associates of Redding (and later absorbed into CH2M-Hill). Some of their senior staff included engineer Merih Kazmirci in San Francisco and geologists Eugene A. Hainze, Herbert Bensinger and Richard C. ”Dick” Thompson, CEG (1929-99), who joined the Corps of Engineers SF District in 1965, and Keith A. Howard (BS GeoE ’61; MS ‘62 Berkeley; PhD Geol ’66 Yale; who worked for the USGS in Menlo Park 1966-2006. The geologists worked out of their field office in Auburn. The firm’s major work was on the Placer County hydroelectric projects along the Middle Fork of the American River. The firm’s project manager at the Auburn field office was James A. Conwell, PE (1911-77) (BSCE ’33 Berkeley), who oversaw the construction of Hellhole Dam, which was severely damaged during its construction by the record storms of December 1964 and January 1965. McCreary moved to Auburn in 1965 to be closer to the Middle Fork projects, then to Rocklin, and finally in Auburn, where he remained the rest of his life. Sanford Koretsky ran the firm’s home office in San Francisco, where most of the design work was performed.
In 1960-62 McCreary served on the Special Advisory Committee on Criteria for Hydraulic Fills chaired by Prof. George F. Sowers, which authored Report No 25 to the Federal Housing Administration by the Building Research Advisory Board of the National Research Council, presumably, from his involvement with hydraulic fills along the margins of the San Francisco Bay and other coastal locations with which he become familiar. In the late 1960s the firm began peforming an increasing volume of overseas work, establishing offices in Honduras, Ghana and Dahomey in Africa, and Laos and Cambodia in Southeast Asia.
In 1970 McCreary and Koretsky retired because McCreary-Koretsky faced bankruptcy charges stemming from income taxes due to the federal government and a lawsuit brought by against them by the Placer County Water Agency, because of the untimely failure of Hellhole Dam on the Rubicon River in December 1964, while the dam was under construction. McCreary-Koretsky International, Inc. (MKI) was formed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Louis Berger, Inc. of New York (which had been purchased by Leasco Corporation in 1969), to acquire the contracts and personnel of McCreary-Koretsky Engineers (MKE) as part of a reorganization agreement. MKE was to be paid a percentage of the profits made by MKI on the acquired MKE contracts. The reorganization agreement was closed on September 16, 1970, effective as of April 1, 1970. Berger attorney Peter T. Taussig and Leasco attorney Frederick A. Jackson attempted to purchase MKI in 1971, but changed their minds after learning that the firm was losing money because of some problems with the Miller-Sweeney Bridge carrying Fruitvale Avenue from Oakland to Alameda (a four-lane singleleaf Bascule Bridge, completed in Dec 1973). A breach-of-contract suit was brought against them by Leasco, which was sustained by the court, and Leasco (a Delaware corporation) retained ownership of MKI, which remained in business a few more years, until 1974. Bruce McCreary passed away in Oct 2012 at the age of 95.
Harry R. Cedergren, Consulting Engineer (1967-96)
Harry R. Cedergren, PE (1911-96) was a native of West Seattle and received his BSCE degree from the University of Washington in June 1937, graduating cum laude. He then enrolled in graduate studies in soil mechanics at Harvard University under Prof. Arthur Casagrande, receiving his M.S. in June 1938. In January 1939 he joined the Portland District of the Army Corps of Engineers and authored his first paper on “Utility of the Flow Net in Stability Analysis” for the 1940 Purdue Conference on Soil Mechanics. He worked for the Corps on a variety of dams and airfield projects in the Pacific Northwest during the Second World War.
He became a registered civil engineer in California in July 1946, and moved to California in 1948, accepting a position as traffic engineer with the City of Stockton. He then accepted a position with O.J. Porter & Co. in Sacramento. In 1951 he joined the Transportation Laboratory of the California Division of Highways in Sacramento, where his focus shifted to pavement design. At the 1962 Conference on Structural Design of Asphalt Pavements at the University of Michigan he and Wentworth Lovering co-authored a landmark article that proposed asphalt stabilization of permeable underdrains, which led to the employment of free-draining aggregate subgrades under pavements. Among his many contributions was the establishment of Caltrans Class II Permeable (subdrainage) Mixture in California Division of Highways Standard Specifications volume in 1958, which limited the percent fines (passing the #200 sieve) to between 0 and 3% by weight. This mixture became the “standard subdrain mixture” for decades thereafter. In 1963 he moved to the California Department of Water Resources, during construction of the major elements of the California Water Project, like Oroville Dam.
In 1967 he retired from state service because he was no longer doing much engineering work, but supervising younger engineers. He remained in Sacramento and established himself as an independent consulting engineer. That year he also completed the first edition of his textbook titled “Seepage, Drainage, and Flow Nets,” published by John Wiley & Sons, which was revised in 1977, and enlarged again, in 1989. In 1974 he published his second book, titled “Drainage of Highway and Airfield Pavements,” with a second edition appearing in 1987. In 1970 he received an FHWA research contract to investigate pavement subdrainage practices, nation-wide. This effort resulted in the FHWA’s “Guidelines for the Design of Drainage Systems for Highway Structural Sections,” which appeared in 1972. The subdrainage tenants of these guidelines were subsequently incorporated into the 1986 AASHTO Pavement Design Guidelines. In 1973 he prepared the chapter titled “Seepage Control in Earth Dams” for the Casagrande Volume on Embankment Dam Engineering, considered one of the preeminent texts on that subject. Cedergren is considered to be the “father of subdrainage,” and if not the father, he was certainly a prophet of the craft.
Herbert R. Volin, GE started Diablo Soil Engineers in 1974, after having worked for Harding-Miller-Lawson and Caltrans (described in the Harding threadline).
David G. Heyes, CEG was an engineering geologist with CA DWR and Caltrans for almost three decades, beginning around 1962, in Los Angeles. He retired from Caltrans District 4 in San Francisco around 1988. He lives in Fremont and has worked part-time with Leo Devito, CEG for many years on a wide range of consultations.
Abel R. Soares & Associates (1972-90)
Abel R. Soares, GE (BSCE ’60 Humboldt State) grew up in the Modesto area and attended Modesto Community College and Humboldt State, before joining the California Division of Highways in their San Francisco District 4 office, in the summer of 1960. He became registered as a RCE in 1968 and GE in 1987. He left Caltrans in 1972 to start his own geotechnical firm, bulding his own low-clearance tracked drill rig which employed a small diameter retractable plug Porter Tube style sampler (see description above, under O. J. Porter). Soares worked out of yards he maintained at various times in San Pablo, Pinole, and El Cerrito. He also served as a drilling subcontractor for many East Bay geotechnical firms, back in the days when few drilers offered low-clearance rigs that could be set up in tight places. He incorporated as Abel R. Soares & Associates in March 1979.
Soares departed the Bay Area in 1990 to manage the U.S. Testing Co. in Oakdale, but this association only lasted about a year. In 1991 he rejoined Caltrans at their District 10 office (1992-95), then transferred to their Office of Structural Foundations in Sacramento, where he worked between 1995-2000. In 2000 he retired from Caltrans and began managing the Modesto office of North American Technical Services, a geotechnical and materials testing firm.
Kleinfelder threadline (in Caltrans thread)
Stockton Testing & Controls (1961-66); J. H. Kleinfelder & Associates (1966-85); Kleinfelder West (1985- present)
James H. Kleinfelder, GE was born in November 1934 in Pittsburgh, PA. He received his BSCE degree from U.C. Berkeley in 1954, and worked for the California Division of Highways, the City of Stockton, and Johns-Manville Corp. During his tenure with the City of Stockton as a public works engineer, he experienced difficulty hiring of soils and testing firms based out of Sacramento, who were so busy they weren’t servicing Stockton in a timely manner. In 1961 Jim and his brother Ed started Stockton Testing & Controls to serve the growing market in San Joaquin County. In 1963 he bought out his brother’s share and established the firm’s first branch office in Merced. Jim also returned to Berkeley to secure a master’s degree in soil mechanics in 1963-64.
In 1966 he changed the name of the firm to J.H. Kleinfelder & Associates. In 1968 they purchased the assets of Porter, Armstrong & Ripa in Sacramento, after O.J. ‘Pappy’ Porter died in Dec ’67. In this acquisition they picked up Michael E. Mahoney, who managed the Sacramento office. The firm was unusual in that they owned and operated their own drilling rigs longer than many other firms. They began doing international work in Beirut in 1968, and ventured into Saudi Arabia in 1974.
The firm opened its third branch office in Fresno in 1970, managed by Cyril M. “Bud” McRae, CEG, GE (BSCE ’62, MS ‘79 Berkeley), and assisted by Michael V. Smith, CEG (BA Geol ’70 CSU Fresno). A fourth office was established in Walnut Creek in 1971, where Michael E. Mahoney, GE (1937-2001) served as the first office manager (also serving as ASFE President in 1990-91). In 1975 they acquired a local firm in Reno and established another branch office there. Ron Heinzen, GE (BSCE ’73; MS ‘74 UC Davis) managed their Stockton office for many years.
In 1979 they relocated their corporate headquarters from Stockton to Walnut Creek. Kleinfelder created and implemented strategic plans in the late 1980s that allowed it to expand dramatically over the next two decades, into the Los Angeles and San Diego areas in the 1980s. In 1982 the firm expanded their operations into southern California, and leveraged all of the firm’s service for the first time on the Squaw Creek Project at North Lake Tahoe, beginning in 1983. During this time (1983-84) Jim Kleinfelder also served as President of ASFE. In 1985 the firm expended to include geoenvironmental assessments, and in 1985 Kleinfelder West, Inc. assumed ownership of the operations in the western United States (Kleinfelder Central, Kleinfelder Southeast, and Kleinfelder East being established over the next 15 years, overseeing their respective regions of the country). In 1988 Kleinfelder established regional branch offices in Washington, Arizona, and Utah and acquired Mandeville & Associates of southern California to leverage their services in air quality and solid waste management.
In 1989 Kleinfelder established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to transition ownership and enable their employees to share in firm’s financial success. Kleinfelder ended the 1980s with almost 600 employees and $37 million in annual revenues. Bud McRae took over the reins as president in 1989, and became CEO in 1993 when Jim Kleinfelder retired.
In 1994 the firm expanded its operations into Mexico and purchased Geospectra from J.P. Singh. Zia Zafir, GE (BSCE ’83 Taxilla-Pakistan; MS ’87 Iowa State; PhD ’93 UNR) joined Kleinfelder as part of this acquisition and became Chief Engineer and Practice Leader in seismic and geotechnical earthquake engineering, in Sacramento. Some key Bay Area personnel included managing partner Ed Rinne (BSCE ’61, MS ’63 Berkeley), who left Dames & Moore to become a managing partner at their corporate headquarters, Lyle Lewis (from Harding Lawson), Mike Majchrzak (1953-2009; from Lee & Praszker), and Terrance K. L. Wang (MSCE ’76 Berkeley), who came from McClelland Engineers in Texas to assume the responsibilities as the firm’s regional manager in Pleasanton (1986-2002). Brian O’Neill, GE (BSGeoE ‘85 UNR) left Harding Lawson in 2002 to become principal geotechnical engineer at the Oakland office. Bill McCormick, CEG (BS Geol ’83; MS ’86 SDSU) joined the firm in 1995 and became the senior principal geologist in the San Francisco Bay Region, out of Novato. Gregory Ruf, GE (BSCE ’79 SJSU) managed Klienfelder’s geotechnical operations in the South Bay region from 1986-2001. By 1996 Kleinfelder had 21 offices in California.
In 1997 Gerald J. Salontai, GE (BSCE ’77 CalPolyPomona; MS ’81 CSULB) became the firm’s third CEO. He joined Kleinfelder in 1981 and witnessed its transformation from a central Californian to coast-to-coast entity. In 1998 they acquired Lincoln Devore, Inc. with offices in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colorado. In 1999 the firm moved its national headquarters to San Diego, with Salontai continuing as President and CEO until 2009. In 1999 they acquired Trinity Engineering and Testing, with 13 offices in Texas. Kleinfelder concluded the 1990s with 1,200 employees and about $92 million in annual revenues.
In 2002, Kleinfelder expanded its operations into the Midwest by acquiring GeoSystems, Inc. In 2004 they acquired controlling interest in Kakona Insurance Co. as a captive carrier for a variety of insurance lines. In 2005 they established an East Coast presence by acquiring Geologic Services, Inc. In January 2006 the firm expanded its operations along the Mid-Atlantic States, from Philadelphia to Florida, through the acquisition of Powell-Harpstead. In 2008 they established satellite offices in the Carolinas by purchasing Trigon Engineering. In 2010 the firm established the James H. Kleinfelder Fellowship in Geotechnical Engineering, which grants $10,000 per annum to deserving students at U.C. Berkeley.
In 2009 Bill Siegel (BSCE ’84; MS ‘86 Nevada-Reno) succeeded Salontai as Kleinfelder’ s fourth CEO. In 2010 they expended their operations into Guam and Australia and acquired Buys & Associates and LPG Environmental & Permitting Services, expanding their operations in Florida, Utah, and Colorado. In 2011 they purchased InSite Environmental of Stockton, and in 2012 Corrigan Consulting of Houston, Texas. In 2012 Kleinfelder also opened an office in Calgary, Canada.
Before the October 2008 recession, Kleinfelder had 70 plus offices nationwide and 2000+ employees. By 2011 these figures had decreased to 54 offices and 1,850 employees, in the US, Australia, and Guam. R. Jeffrey Dunn, GE (BSCE ’75, MS ’76, PhD ’83 Berkeley) joined the Walnut Creek office in 1985 to head up their geoenvironmental practice, then departed in 1991 to open an office for Geosyntec, but rejoined Kleinfelder between 2002-13. He served as technical director of their levees and dams practice, working out of the Oakland office until 2013. From 2010 Chris Nardi, GE (MSCE ’81 Berkeley) served as Principal Geotechnical Engineer of the Oakland office. John S. Lohman, GE (BSCE ‘82 CalPolyPomona; MS CSULB) served as the firm’s technical discipline leader in geotechnical and geological engineering, working out of the San Diego office. From 2009-15 Kleinfelder West’s principal engineering geologist was Bruce R. Hilton, CEG (BA Geol ’78; MS work CSULA), working out of the firm’s Sacramento office (Hilton also served as AEG President in 2010-11). Kleinfelder West presently employs an aggregate staff of about 1,100 people. In Nov 2015 Siegel stepped down as CEO and Senior VP Kevin Pottmeyer, PG was named Interim CEO.
DCM/Thomsen Consultants (1983-89); DCM/Joyal Engineering (1989-2000); DCM Engineering (2000-09); DCM/GeoEngineers (2009-11); DCM Consulting, Inc. (2011-present)
Founded by David C. Mathy, GE (BSCE ’76 CSPU Pomona; MS ’79 Berkeley) and Neil A. Thomsen, GE, CEG (BS Geol ’76 Minnesota-Duluth; MSCE ’81 Berkeley) in Walnut Creek, in February 1984. Both had previously worked for Kleinfelder in Walnut Creek. Thomsen had worked in the mining industry in British Columbia prior to completing his undergrad degree at Duluth, and he left the partnership in 1986.
Norman A. Joyal, GE (BSCE ‘78 CPSU-SLO; MSCE ’79 Berkeley) succeeded Thomsen as a principal/partner for next 11 years and the firm was known as DCM/Joyal Engineering. In 2000 Norm departed and worked for Cal Engineering & Geology, then started his own construction company.
The firm was then renamed DCM Engineers. Their senior staff included Robert A. Kahl, GE, Dru R. Nielson, CEG (BS Geol ’86; MS ’88 BYU), Marc M. Gelinas, Brian R. Dodge, and Mark Sinclair. They specialized in soft ground micro-tunneling and ‘trenchless technology,’ mostly for sanitation districts and water agencies. They were purchased by GeoEngineers of Seattle, Washington in early 2009, and become DCM/GeoEngineers. In June 2011 Dave Mathy severed his relationship with GeoEngineers and formed his own consultancy, DCM Consulting, Inc., based in Lafayette.
Balbi & Chang Associates and BNC Testing Labs (1982-98)
Founded by Gary C. Balbi, QE (1946-2007) and Philip L. Chang, GE (BSCE ’74 Berkeley) in 1982 and based in Fairfield. Balbi began as a soils tech for R.W. Brandly Engineers for the Stockton Municipal and Sacramento Int’l Airports, around 1965. He joined Kleinfelder’ s Stockton office in 1969, as their senior soils technician. Balbi & Chang was the first geotechnical firm based in Solano County, serving the Fairfield-Vacaville-Cordelia area. They also performed pavement, concrete, and soils testing work in Solano, Yolo, and Napa Counties. They grew with the rapidly expanding area until the Rancho Solano lawsuits forced them to close down in the late 1990s. Balbi took a position as VP of construction services for Smith Emery Co. in Sacramento, then founded Matriscope with Robert Tadlok in 2003. He died of bladder cancer in June 2007. Balbi and Chang also owed Bay Area Exploration, Inc, a drilling company. Philip Chang went onto found Tong & Chang Consultants, Inc. based in Suisun City, but is no longer in business.
Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones et al threadline
Hersey Inspection Bureau (1946-64)
Around 1946 James H. Dunn, PE established the Hersey Inspection Bureau in Oakland, offering inspection and testing services, mostly for pavement and materials testing. This expanded to include soils testing, beginning around 1950. In April 1958, William F. Jones, PE, along with were Al Gribaldo (BSCE ’49 Berkeley), Alvin Rathbun, and George R. Thenn, Jr., purchased Hersey Inspection Bureau to establish themselves in the East Bay market. Rathbun oversaw the business side of the various testing firms. Shortly afterward, they established a branch office in Concord, managed by Gery Anderson (more information provided in the Soil Testing firms threadline, above).
Testing & Controls (1954-75)
Around 1954 Testing and Controls of Mountain View was founded by L. Cedric Macabee, PE (1903-83), who owned Macabee Engineering in Palo Alto, a firm that specialized in water resources and sanitary engineering in northern California. He hired Albert C. Gribaldo, PE from the California Division of Highways to run this office. Al was a 1949 graduate of Cal Berkeley in civil engineering, who had been working on the construction of the Nimitz Freeway (State Route 17) in the East Bay, and was an expert engineering draftsman. He was assisted by Chuck Sillkock, a surveyor from Macabee Engineering, who supervised the testing lab. The lab included a moist curing room for storage of concrete cylinders before testing. The on-call engineers who worked part-time for the firm were Myron Jacobs at Santa Clara University and Jorge Barringa of San Jose State. The soils technicians were John P. Nielsen and Loren Saliday. Nielson was also a CE student at San Jose State (he departed in the fall of 1957, to complete his MS at Wyoming and PhD in geotechnical engineering at Colorado before returning to the peninsula to work for Gribaldo in 1961).
Testing and Controls rented space in the building on San Antonio Road in Mountain View owned by Peninsula Laboratories, a full service commercial assay (minerals and petroleum) and testing firm, which also provided medical, chemical, botanical, and pharmacutical testing. In February 1958 William F. Jones, PE (MSCE ‘50 Caltech) resigned his position with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and became a principal at Testing & Controls. In 1959 Alvin A. Rathbun (MBA ’57 Stanford) joined the firm as its business manager and the company moved to larger quarters in a building near Moffett Field.
In 1971, Dan Rhoades, PE was a principal of Gribaldo Jones & Associates when he was also named President of Testing & Controls, and a branch office was established in Concord to serve the growing Contra Costa County market. The other principals were Robert D. Dewell, PE as Vice President and Chief Engineer, Richard L. McKillip as Manager of Business Development, and Donald Peard Kay, PE as Staff Engineer. In 1975 Rhoades departed to start Purcell-Rhoades & Associates in Pleasant Hill, and the Concord office of Testing & Controls was closed.
Jones, Thenn & Associates (1958-61)
In November 1958 Bill Jones and George R. Thenn, Jr. established Jones, Thenn & Associates as a soils and foundation engineering company in Mountain View. Hersey continued working in the East Bay into the early 1960s, until it was absorbed by Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones (GJ&J), described below.
Peninsula Testing & Controls (1959-69)
Peninsula Testing & Controls was founded by Albert C. Gribaldo and Alvin A. Rathbun, (1922-2011) around 1959. Rathbun had undergraduate degrees from Middlebury College in Vermont and Stanford (Class of 1950). After earning his MBA from Stanford he assumed the role of Secretary-Treasurer of Testing & Controls, Peninsula Testing & Controls, GJJ, and later, the Earth Systems firms. David M. Wilson was the senior engineering geologist with Peninsula Testing & Controls in 1962.
In July 1966 Peninsula Testing and Controls opened up a branch office in Pajaro to oversee the construction observation and testing work they were performing for Cabrillo Community College. This office was managed by Jo K. Crosby, PE and was the first business offering soil mechanics and foundation engineering services in Monterey County.
Gribaldo, Jacobs, Jones & Associates (1961-69); Gribaldo, Jones & Associates (1969-72)
Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones (GJ&J) was founded in 1961 by Albert C. Gribaldo, PE (1926-2004), Alvin A. Rathbun (1922-2011), Myron M. Jacobs, PE (1924-94), William F. Jones, PE (1927-2006), and Dan Rhoades, PE. They were originally based in Mountain View on the San Francisco Peninsula. Some of their key employees included Phil Burkland, Gery F. Anderson, Donald H. Dahl, James E. Likens, Bill Flick, Jo K. Crosby (Watsonville), Bill McMorrow, Bill Wigginton, and John P. Nielsen (BSCE ’56 SJSU; MS ’58 Wyoming; PhD ’61 Colorado), who departed in 1962. They eventually established branch offices in San Francisco, Oakland, and Watsonville.
GJ&J was dissolved in 1969 because of the San Jose East Highlands Landslide, which generated too many lawsuits. A new firm was organized, called Gribaldo, Jones & Associates (GJA), which lasted until ~1972, when it broke up and many derivative forms were spun off, started by former partners and associates of GJ&J and GLA. Some of these are described below.
Around 1968-69 Myron Jacobs decided he wanted to go back to U.C. Berkeley to get his PhD, so GJ&J became Gribaldo, Jones & Associates (GJA). He intended to perform a study of potential BART line extensions, but eventually gave up on this work for lack of funding and moved down to Watsonville (the Berkeley geotechnical program never had a role in the planning, design, or construction of the BART project, between 1960-74).
Insurance crisis of 1967-71
In 1967-71 soils engineers in California lost their Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance because Lloyds of London felt that California was uninsurable for earth movement problems (this decision was in the wake of unprecedented geotechnical problems assiociated with record storms in 1967-68-69). The three big firms operating in the S.F. Bay Area at that time were Woodward-Clyde, Dames & Moore, and Gribaldo, Jacobs and Jones. D&M didn’t do many single family residence consultations, just the Redwood Shores development. Woodward-Clyde-Sherard was the biggest firm doing housing work in the 1960s. In 1967 Ned Clyde started a remedial construction firm named Remell Corporation to tackle the distressed homes that were dragging Woodward Clyde into costly litigation.
Derivative firms of Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones
T.J. Pilecki & Associates (1960-71); Soil Engineering Company (1971-2000)
Tadeusz Jozef “T.J.” Pilecki, GE (1921-2003). He was educated in Poland and immigrated to Ohio from Trinidad & Tobago in June 1953, then onto California, around 1954-55, likely working for one of the Gribaldo testing firms. In 1957 he was registered as RCE 11087. In 1960 he founded Pilecki & Associates as a sole proprietorship, working out of his home at 1040 Keith Avenue in Berkeley. Around 1971, he started a new firm incorporated as the Soil Engineering Company. On every site he investigated had would define three “soil layers,” based on extrapolation of blow counts recorded while driving a pipe sampler through surficial soils/colluvium, etc. He penned numerous discussions commenting on technical articles that appeared in ASCE’s Journal of the Soil Mechanics & Foundations Division during the 1960s and 70s.
Provenzano & Associates (1968-1991); SOILS (1991-2011); Joseph M. Provenzano Geotechnic
Founded by geotechnical engineer Joseph M. “Joe” Provenzano (1930-2011) (BSCE ’48 Polytech Univ NY; MS ’50 Columbia) around ~1968, based in Richmond. Joe did his masters in soil mechanics under Don Burmister at Columbia (MS 1950), before moving to California. Provenzano previously worked for Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones, where he had managed their Las Vegas office in the 1960s, before returning to the Bay Area and settling in Pinole. Provenzano & Associates was based in Richmond, and moved to San Anselmo in 1988. One of his early employees was Jim C. Reynolds, PE (profiled below). Provenzano developed a working relationship with U.C. Berkeley and Contra Costa County in the late 1970s through the 1980s. SOILS was established as a separate division of Provenzano & Associates in 1991, based at the same Richmond address. He also served as CMT’s in-house engineer for many years. Joe was still working as Joseph M. Provenzano Geotechnic in Concord until he passed away on November 1, 2011.
Break-up of the Earth Systems family of companies (1970-76)
Earth Systems went through a metamorphosis between 1971 and 1976. During this period they sought to expand their operations through the establishment of branch offices, similar to what Woodward-Clyde had done in the 1960s. During the early 1970s they dispatched Bill Wigginton to evaluate the geotechnical markets in Sacramento and Fresno. They also looked at San Diego and other parts of California.
The first principal to leave was Dick Harlan, with all his staff, in 1975. He told the executive committee: “you can buy me out or I am going anyway.” Earth Systems said “Well, we’ll keep operating under the name Harlan Engineers for so many years minus Dick Harlan and his staff,” so they operated out of Concord without Harlan for about a year. In 1975 Dick formed R.C. Harlan & Associates and operated out of San Francisco thereafter (even after forming Harlan-Miller-Tait in 1982).
1976 witnessed the break-up of Earth Systems. That year the executive committee convened; it consisted of Al Gribaldo, Gery Anderson, CEG, Carl Greenlee, Norm Hallin, Phil Burkland, Bill Wigginton, and Alvin Rathbun. In Feb 1976 both Geomechanics and ENGEO opted out of their Earth Systems affiliations. Geocon was still down in San Diego with Jim Likens; but they eventually broke away. Earth Systems branches started dropping off because insurance for residential work once again became available, around 1975 and ENGEO began servicing the work out at Blackhawk, which began in 1976.
Jo Crosby & Associates (1970-unknown)
Founded in May 1970 by Jo Kent Crosby, GE, CEG (BS Geophy ‘55 Utah; PhD CE ‘81 Stanford), after serving as one of the senior associates (with Myron Jacobs) of Gribaldo, Jacobs and Jones and Peninsula Testing & Controls’ Watsonville office. Crosby & Assoiciates were based in Palo Alto, near Stanford. He later did a lot of consulting for Failure Analysis Associates of Palo Alto from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, while working on his doctorate in geotechnical engineering under Prof Wayne Clough at Stanford. Don Dahl (formerly with GJ&J) and W. Patrick Murphy were geologists for Crosby in the late 1970s. Crosby also served as President of CalGeo in 1987-88.
Reynolds & Associates (1970-79); Reynolds, Jacobs, Haro & Associates (1979-81)
Jim Reynolds & Associates had always been a part of Earth Systems operating in Watsonville. There he was assisted by Tom Makdissy (who started Terrasearch in 1976) and Hassen Amer in the early 1970s. Reynolds had his PE license, but was also an ordained minister, so he gave up soils engineering and went into the ministry full-time. After his departure Myron Jacobs assumed much of Reynolds’ work in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, along with Joe Haro. Reynolds eventually returned to geoengineering and started a new firm, while Myron Jacobs and Joe Haro operated separate firms, including Jacobs, Haro & Associates (1981-87), described below.
Soil Engineering Construction (1970-present)
Design-build geotechnical construction form founded by Robert D. Mahoney, PE, GE (BSCE ’62; BA Geol ’63; Notre Dame) in 1970 and based in Redwood City. Previous to the start-up Mahoney had worked for Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones (1963-68), and as a project manager for Pacific Architects and Engineers of San Francisco, working for the military in Southeast Asia (1968-70). Some of the firm’s principals have included: George Drew, PE (BSCE ’65 Connecticut), a former Seabee officer, who joined the firm in 1980; Brent Harris (BS Berkeley; MA SFSU) who also joined the firm in 1980; Ken Faught, CEG (BS Geol ’68 Oregon State) was their grouting specialist in the 1990s, Bryan Talmadge, PE (BSCE SJSU); and John Niven, PE, who manages the firm’s southern California operations, in Encinitas.
Earth Systems, Inc. (1971-76); Earth Systems Consultants (1976-2004)
Al Gribaldo figured his firm would be sued repeatedly if they continued doing hillside residential work, but decided to form Earth Systems, Inc. around 1971. They didn’t do any technical work and Gribaldo never signed a report after Earth Systems was set up. In 1971 they retained all the old GJA employees: the San Francisco office was managed by Bill Jones, the San Jose office run by Carl Greenlee, the Oakland office by Dan Rhoades (mostly), assisted by Myron M. Jacobs (BSCE ’49 Berkeley). These regional offices served those respective areas.
Meanwhile, Al Gribaldo started to expand their operations southward. He began by purchasing Norman Hallin’s firm Buena Engineers, Inc. in the Oxnard/Ventura area. But GJA lost their insurance, so came up with the concept to form Earth Systems, Inc. while Carl Greenlee formed Applied Soil Mechanics Inc. Phil Berkland, CEG was the firm’s principal engineering geologist, assisted by Murray Levish, CEG. Burkland & Associates was formed as the geological services company in 1973 (see write-up below). Max Gahrahmat, PE (BSCE ’69; MS ’76 SJSU) worked for CMT in the 1970s in San Ramon, then departed geotechnical field to work in commercial real estate development in Santa Clara.
Gribaldo’s theory was to have these separate businesses, but their big limitation in performing residential work was the lack of available insurance. ENGEO, Inc. was originally formed with the restriction that they were not to provide consultations on single family residences (their senior partner Bill Wigginton had worked for GJ&J from 1966-71). Around 1968 Dick Harlan was brought in from Bechtel and he volunteered to perform geotechnical work on single family residences, and it wasn’t long before he was being sued, repeatedly. ENGEO refrained from providing recommendations for single family residences for their first three or four years, and managed to survive. Meanwhile, everyone seemed to be keeping busy with all of the development occurring across the San Francisco Bay Region.
ENGEO Incorporated (1971-present)
The three founders of ENGEO in 1971 all previously worked for GJJ: Bill Wigginton, CEG (BA and MA Geol Penn State) (44%), Shalom Eliahu, GE (BSCE Robert College; MS ’68 Berkeley) (22%), and Jean Meuris, GE (32%). The firm’s office was originally in Berkeley, then moved to Concord, and finally, to San Ramon, where Uri Eliahu, GE (BSCE ’81 Berkeley) and Paul Guerin, GE (BSCE ’81; MS ’82 Berkeley) joined the firm in 1986, and Eliahu became CEO in 1992. Senior geologists included: Debra Carey, CEG, (BS ’77 UC Davis) now with Shaw, Brian Flaherty, CEG, CHG, John LaViolette, CEG (BS Geol ’71; MS ’80 CSULB), Gary Smith, CEG, Miles Grant, CEG (BS Geol ’86 USC), Duncan Hickmont, CEG, Phil Stuecheli, CEG (BS Geol; MS Ohio State), Eric Harrell, CEG, Principal Geologist Ray Skinner, CEG (BA Geol ’75 Delaware), and Brooks Ramsdell, CEG (BS ’96 CSUH; MA ’99 USC). Branch offices opened in 1990s. ENGEO did geotechnical work for 40,000 Bay Area units between 1971-96. Other key personnel: Jeffrey Adams, PhD, PE joined the firm in 1999 and became an Associate in 2010. Julia Moriarty, GE is a principal and manages the San Jose and Irvine offices. Shawn Munger, PG, CHG is principal geologist in the Sacramento office. Other principals include Theodore ‘Ted’ Bayham, GE, CEG (BS Geol ’84 NAU Flagstaff), Donald Bruggers, GE (BSCE ’76 Michigan State), Daniel Haynosch, GE, James “Chip” Moore, PE (deceased in 2013), and Principal Josef Tootle, GE. Associate Macy Tong, GE, joined ENGEO in 1985. Stefanos Papadopulos, GE became as Associate in the San Francisco office in 2013 and Janet Kan, GE, CEG (BS GeoE UBC; MS 2004 Berkeley) became an Associate in 2013. Dan Haynosch served as President of CalGeo in 2002-03.
ENGEO became an employee stock option plan owned (ESOP) firm in 1986 and has gradually expanded, acquiring Anderson Consulting Group of Roseville in 2002 (now in Rocklin), which included John A. Baker, GE, who directed Anderson’s geoenvironmental group. ENGEO currently has seven California offices, in San Ramon, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Ripon, Rocklin, Santa Clarita and Irvine. They employ a staff of around 130. The firm is involved in major military base reuse projects such as Mare Island, Treasure Island, Fort Ord and Hunters Point, transportation projects such as California High Speed Rail and the BART extension to San Jose, and major infrastructure and flood control such as large levees, WWTP projects, dams, pipelines, etc.
The firm has expanded its core geotechnical service offering to include comprehensive environmental engineering, hydrologic engineering, and the full range of soil and materials testing and inspection services. ENGEO purchased Land Marine Geotechnics in 2006 and Bill Rudolph joined the firm as Principal Geotechnical Consultant.
In 2012 ENGEO acquired Geoscience Consulting NZ, a New Zealand environmental and geologic consultancy, having established an office there in order to assist with the response to the devastating damage from earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. They sent Don Bruggers, GE to be the principal managing engineer of this office.
Applied Soil Mechanics, Inc. (1972-2004)
Started by Carl W. Greenlee, PE (1932-2012) in San Jose for many years, then in Fremont, where Bill Zehrbach, GE directed its operations. Ben Patterson, CEG was their chief geologist in the early years. Greenlee remained in Gilroy, but the firm moved to San Luis Obispo before filing for bankruptcy in 2004.
United Soil Engineering, Inc. (1972-present)
United Soil Engineering was founded in 1972 and based in Santa Clara. Their principal engineer was Mahmoud “Max” Gahrahmat, PE (BSCE ’69; MS ’76 SJSU), who also owned several soils testing firms (see below). Other engineers included: S. Ali (Alex) Kassai (RCE 34882), and before him, Herb Volin, PE (who later founded Diablo Soil Engineers). Their engineering geologists were Rick Haltenhoff, CEG (see profile below) and Kendall “Ken” Price, CEG. Present staff includes Vice President P. Vien Vo, PE, Sean A. Deivert, and Ben D. Ta.
Soil Services (1972-82); Construction Materials & Testing (CMT) (1982-present)
Soil Services, a materials testing firm, was spun off of Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones when that firm broke up, around 1972. They operated from an office in San Ramon in the early 1970s, run by Max Gahrahmat, PE (BSCE ’69; MS ’76 SJSU), with their senior soils tech Don Rose.
This operation later moved to Concord and changed its name to Construction Materials & Testing, or CMT. Their largest competitor was Testing Engineers of Oakland, a similar spinoff from Woodward-Clyde, managed by Merlyn Isaak, PE in the early 1970s. Don Rose continued as the principal soils technician.
Daniel J. Rhoades & Associates (1972-75); Purcell-Rhoades (1975-present); The PRA Group, Inc (1988-present)
Founded by Daniel J. Rhoades, GE. He was a principal of GJA (see above) and, in 1971, became President of Testing & Controls, a materials testing firm. This firm was a sole proprietorship based in Sunnyvale until 1975, when he joined with Theodore H. Purcell, GE to form Purcell-Rhoades, based in Concord, and later in Pleasant Hill. Sometime after that they also established a branch office in Hayward. Alan L. Stanley, an experienced grading inspector from Contra Costa County, served as their principal soils technician in the 1970s. Dean Affeldt, CEG has served as the firm’s principal engineering geologist for 30+ years, assisted by other geologists who have also worked for the firm, such as Mike Carey (1978-81), Warham A. Stejer, CEG (1983-88), and former soils tech Joe Ambrosino, who later became an associate engineering geologist. The firm is wholly owned by Dan Rhoades.
A separate firm named The PRA Group, Inc was established in 1988. They currently operate with offices in Pleasant Hill and Hayward. Officers are I. Dean Affeldt, CEG, President, along with partners Daniel J. Rhoades, GE and Donald R. Poindexter, GE.
W. F. Jones, Inc. (1973-95)
When the insurance problems cropped up for Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones, “Bill” Jones parted ways, forming William F. Jones, Inc. and focusing on doing forensic work out of Sunnyvale and San Mateo, beginning in March 1973. Bill was also known for smoking a pipe, like a professor of the “old school.” He was a native of South Shields, England. After completing his undergraduate work in civil engineering at Durham University, he worked two years in Tynemouth, England. In 1949 he received a Rotary International Fellowship to attend Caltech in Pasadena, where he pursued a master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis on soil mechanics under Professor Fred Converse. His thesis was on “Vibration Compaction of Cohesive Soils,” which he completed in 1950 (published in 1955 with Converse). For many years his principal assistant was his son Christopher Jones.
James B. Baker, CEG (BS Geol ’71; MS ’76 Stanford) served as VP and Chief Scientist from 1982-90, while Daniel F. Dyckman, GE served as senior engineer and office manager, from 1984-89. They were assisted by geologists Mike Carey, CEG (1983-86) and Duane Pankhurst, CEG, CHG (1986-95), among others. Between 1976-95 the firm was principally engaged in forensic work, operating out of offices in San Mateo. W. F. Jones, Inc closed its doors in March 1995, when Bill Jones retired. Jones was active in the California Society of Professional Engineers, and served as CSPE President in 1971-72, PEPP Chair, and on the NSPE Board of Directors for several years. This business continued into about ~1995, and Alan Kropp subsequently purchased their files. Bill Jones passed away on May 26, 2006.
Burkland & Associates (1975- 85)
Founded by Al Gribaldo, PE (1926-2004) (BSCE ’49 Berkeley), Philip V. Burkland, CEG (1937-2009), and several others. Phil Burkland received his bachelor’s degree in geology from Stanford in 1959, and was recognized as an accomplished editor of technical reports. Around 1971-72 he had an aneurism which resulted in his being paralyzed from chest down and he spent the remainder of his life in a wheelchair, so he wrote geology reports from the office. This firm did all of the engineering geology work for the various firms in the Earth Systems family of companies from about 1975-85. Their principal engineering geologist during that time was Murray Levish, CEG (BA Geol ’52 NYU; MS ’55 Illinois), who had previously worked for GJJ and Woodward Clyde. Most of their personnel were absorbed back into Earth Systems Consultants, around 1985.
Terrasearch (1976 - 2010); RMA Group (2010-present)
Founded by Tom Makdissy, GE in 1976 after he worked for Jim Reynolds & Associates in Mountain View (1969-76). Terrasearch was always based in San Jose, but at various times had branch offices in Dublin, Pacheco, Cordelia, and Sacramento. By 2005 they had completed 11,000 projects and had offices in San Jose, Livermore, Oakland, Sacramento and Fresno. Their first chief geologist was Curtis Messenger, CEG, assisted by Ed Porter, CEG. Later, Rich Rowland, CEG (BA Geol ’56 Kansas State; MS Geol ’66 UCLA) assumed the role as principal geologist for 20+ years. Tom’s nephew, Simon Makdisy, came from Australia to manage the firm in the 1990s, while David W. Buckley, PE, CEG (BA Geol ’75 UCSB; MS ’77 Purdue) and Larry Pavlik, CEG provided engineering geologic input.
In the 2000s the firm was run by three of Tom Makdissy’s nephews: Simon Makdisy, GE, George Makdissy, PE, and Issam Makdissy. Eric Swenson, CEG (from Kleinfelder, Ninyo & Moore, and Harza) was their senior engineering geologist from 2001-06. Robert Campbell, CEG (BS Geol ’89 UC Davis; MS 2006 CSU East Bay) served as their engineering geologist from 1996-2007. After Swenson moved to Consolidated Engineering Labs, Larry Pavlik, CEG, John Laviolette, CEG, and Pat Drumm, CEG, CHG provided consulting engineering geologic services to the firm. In 2010 Terrasearch was acquired by the RMA Group of Rancho Cucamonga, who have maintained their office in San Jose.
Myron Jacobs & Associates, Inc. (1981); Jacobs, Haro & Associates (1981-87); Jacobs, Raas & Associates (1987-1993); Steven Rass & Associates (1993-2002); Bauldry Engineering (2000-present)
In the late 1960s Myron M. Jacobs (1924-94) (BSCE ’49 Berkeley) departed the Bay Area to manage GJ&J’s Watsonville office, and he remained in that area the balance of his career; initially in partnerships with Jim Reynolds, then with Joseph A. Haro, GE (btwn 1981-87), and later, with Steve Raas, GE (btwn 1987-93). Steve Rass went out on his own sometime between 1991-93, then sold his business in 2002 and moved to Reno by 2004. Brian Bauldry was Raas’s senior geotechnical engineer between 1991-99, before starting Bauldry Engineering in 2000.
Applied Earth Consultants (1983-88); Applied Engineering Construction (1985-89); Associated Terra Consultants (1989-present)