...bear that out. In 2001, the Top 200 reported $602 million in revenue there. Two years later, annual revenue in the region had plunged 88% and the number of U.S. firms working there had dropped from 42 to 35.

CH2M Hill has found some success in Asia, working on several large wastewater treatment projects in Singapore, Searle says. "We’re still trying trying to figure China out," he adds. "The new laws there place much more emphasis on the number of nationals employed."

The 2004 Top 200 at a Glance
Major Sectors Fail To Keep Pace
Total Revenue by Market Share
Top 200: The Coiled Spring
Top 200: The List
Top 200: Subsidiaries List
Top 200: Alphabetical List

MWH CEO Robert Uhler agrees that China is a tough market, but believes that "long-term, it’s a sure-fire thing. You just have to be committed and take it really slowly." MWH has been in China for 10 years, he says. The company initially tried to manage Chinese operations from Singapore, but determined that "we need to deal with our client face-to-face. We realized that total immersion is the only way." MWH now runs its Chinese business from Beijing.

Like Searle, Uhler sees anti-American sentiment as a drag on Latin American business at present. The U.K. appears more promising, with several large public utility programmatic contracts up for renewal. As for Iraq, Uhler sees it as "a hiccup on the globalization process....In the long run, the dispersal of technology drives harmony. We need to get back to that as soon as possible."

Europe Shows Strength
Total Revenue by region