Small Firms, Big Challenges

by Monica Maldonado, Assistant Editor; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47th Street, NY, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 2, Pg. 60-63

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Does it pay to be small? Though many small engineering firms find strength in their size, others are hampered by limited resources and a specialization that diminishes their client base. At E.O. Church, Inc., a 15-person geotechnical/geological engineering firm in Denver, the company's foothold is not in technology. If customers wanted to be state of the art, says president Ed Church, they wouldn't call us. They would call him, however, if they wanted a specialty firm that knows the Denver region, works closely with its customers and will give them a proven state-of-the-practice product. E.O. Church, like many small engineering firms across the country, finds a market niche and sticks with it. Our typical clients want a good product that's not going to cost them a lot of money or worry, explains Church. We keep up with technology, but we don't push the edge. To succeed, we believe we have to do a specialty well, says Church. The problem is we can't be everything to everybody. Specialization, Church finds, can be limiting. But in an industry dominated by billion-dollar engineering firms with a wealth of resources and a national client base, concentrating on a specific part of the market may be the only means to success for small firms.

Subject Headings: Engineering firms | Client relationships | Size |

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