Even in the midst of economic downtown, Aurora-based Merrick & Co. continues to post impressive gains and maintain its focus on growth.

“Decisions and strategies that we put into play five or more years ago are paying off now and keeping our business going strong,” says Ralph Christie, Merrick’s president and chief executive officer.

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Foreshadowing tougher economic times at the start of the decade, the company set in motion a plan to diversify its core business and focus on six emerging markets—geospatial technologies, civil engineering, nuclear technology systems, military and government, life sciences, and energy and fuels. The company also made a commitment to expand its footprint at home and abroad.

Today, Merrick is coming off its best year ever, with annual revenues of $85 million for the fiscal year ending in March—a 20% increase over the previous year. The firm hired more than 100 employees in the last fiscal year and recently opened new offices in Tennessee, Texas and Mexico.

This year, the firm anticipates continued growth, forecasting 17% revenue gains. It exceeded its profit plan in the first quarter, posting 20% gains.

Key to its profitability was the procurement of public sector and government contracts, which account for more than two-thirds of the firm’s current work. Military base transformation projects—including the Airmen Training Complex at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and the Fire Crash Rescue Station at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico—are driving the majority of those contracts.

Go West Young Man

More than a half century after opening its doors, Merrick & Co. remains a direct reflection of its founder’s vision and entrepreneurial spirit, Christie says.

As a young man, Sears W. Merrick heard and answered the call of the West, following his entrepreneurial instincts to Colorado’s Front Range. Sears, a West Point Military Academy instructor and Syracuse University graduate who completed two tours in the U.S. Army, saw an opportunity to capitalize on the region’s power distribution boom.

In 1955 he opened a firm in Denver and began putting his background as a civil engineer and pilot to work. Sears took to the skies, mapping and surveying mountains, small towns and fledgling ski areas to plot power transmission lines and other infrastructure for power companies.

Together with new partner and fellow engineer Ed Lecuver, Sears took the business to the next level, and in 1959, the firm incorporated as Merrick & Co.

The company branched out into the other engineering disciplines in the 1960s and added architecture in...