Winning argument theplanning Alan Swaby talks to an engineering firm that's successfully taken on many new disciplines, including permit applications T he corollary of society being more in touch with its green side is that life becomes far more challenging for developers, builders and manufacturers. Some states are particularly demanding, and anyone asking for a permit to build or discharge on any piece of land that is even vaguely contentious must expect some serious grilling. August 09 www. bus- ex. com 185 Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor
186 www. bus- ex. com August 09 The success of PS& S is partly due to the structure of the business. Since its inception in 1962, when structural engineers Paulus and Sokolowski teamed up, there has been a conscious effort to add additional capabilities. " The original founders knew this would help them grow more quickly," says Gennaro. " One by one, departments for geotechnical, environmental, civil, mechanical, electrical and plumbing were all added. The final link was with the establishment of a licensed architectural affiliate. Having this multi- discipline range of capabilities is not unusual at large firms but is for companies of our size." In fact, if plans had gone according to script, PS& S might no longer be a ' small' operation. In 2000 the business was sold to Fortune 500 company KeySpan, which was in turn soon acquired by British- owned National Grid. The intention was for PS& S to drive the engineering needs of this energy giant, supervising the role of other smaller engineering businesses also within the group. All of this seemed attractive to the management of PS& S but never really materialized. As such, in a buy- back operation, PS& S has gone back into private hands and back to a 200- strong workforce, owned by a holding company headed by Sartor. The addition of architectural resources has significantly changed the direction the business has taken. Where once it was mainly a subcontracting consultant, PS& S has now branched out into a prime service provider. With its unique organizational structure, powerful computer systems and integrated project approach, PS& S is able to offer innovative and cost competitive consulting services to its clients even in this challenging economic environment. While PS& S is keeping faith with its mainstay market segments of pharmaceuticals, education, health and But the New Jersey engineering consultancy of Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor ( PS& S) is showing it can be done. Sometimes the method is science- based, relying on good research and observation, as was the case when one of its clients was granted a permit to build a wind farm not only near a bird sanctuary but on a major north- south migratory path. " It sounded like the kind of project that had little or no chance," says company president Mike Gennaro, " but we were able to show that the birds had less to fear of death and injury from the turbine blades than they would from a cat!" On other occasions, the day is won thanks to some out- of- the box thinking. In fact, over the years, PS& S has collected a string of awards for its innovative design approach. Take the case of two clients on opposite sides of the river- one a power plant in need of cooling water and the other a waste water plant seeking permission to discharge into the river. Neither was getting very far in satisfying the regulatory agencies, until PS& S suggested that they put their heads together. By building a pipeline under the river, the two plants were able to satisfy each other's needs and keep the regulators happy with a reduced amount of ultimate discharge into the river. In September, another project that had to overcome difficult constraints will open its doors. Kean University in Union, New Jersey, hired PS& S to consult on the building of two new dormitories- one replacing older buildings to be demolished and another on a nearby site with wetlands constraints. " However," says architect Steve DeRochi, " we were able to overcome the wetlands issue and locate both new buildings and a 300 seat cafeteria on the wetlands constrained site. This allowed the project to proceed in a single phase, trimming a year from the construction schedule while preserving the older dormitory space for renovation." Having this multi- discipline range of capabilities is not unusual at large firms but is for companies of our size"