In Gillette, Wyo., the firm produced a study that turned into the $226-million Madison Water Pipeline Project, bringing water 42 miles from the Madison Aquifer to Gillette.
Steve Peterson, Gillette’s utilities manager, who has worked with Morrison-Maierle on a variety of water projects, says, “Once we give them a project, we don’t have to spend a whole lot of time looking over their shoulder to make sure the job is getting done right.”
Morrison-Maierle has also done flood-plain mediation and feasibility studies and water resource work for cities, towns and American Indian communities from New Mexico to South Dakota.
In 1973, Morrison-Maierle got its first taste of international work in Vietnam as a subcontractor for road and bridge rehabilitation. Foster says Morrison-Maierle people left the country just a week or two before the fall of Saigon.
Foster says Vietnam was a springboard for the firm for international work in Africa, the Pacific and the Middle East with the U.S. Agency for International Development. “We had an eight-year project in the landlocked country of Lesotho, a small mountainous enclave completely surrounded by South Africa,” he says.
In Lesotho, Morrison-Maierle established water supplies and sanitation systems. It drilled wells in about 400 villages and created a central water supply within each village while providing basic community sanitation facilities to about 400,000 people.
Foster says that the firm has always had an environmental component in its work, but in the 1990s it became more focused.
Lauren Roberts, vice president of the Kinross Co.’s Kettle River mining operations in northeast Washington state, says Morrison-Maierle has faced all sorts of environmental and logistical challenges.
“They put their customer first and bend over backwards to make sure they are meeting every environmental objective with timely, cost-effective solutions,” he says. “As a result we’ll keep going back to them.”
In 1994 the firm became an employee-owned organization. Foster, who has seen the transition to the present organization, says the success of the company is the result of the attitudes of the founders.
Among his many achievements, John Morrison led the legislative effort to register engineers in Montana, and he was also the first secretary of the Montana Board of Professional Engineers. He held Montana Engineering License No. 1, Foster says.
“When I joined the firm, I sat down with John Sr. and Joe Maierle and talked about the firm,” he says. “The thing that sticks in my mind, even today, is that our founders laid the groundwork for our success.
“They said, ‘We are doing projects for our clients and our goal is to achieve their goals and get what they want.’ I think that is the difference in our approach that goes a little bit beyond engineering.”