Diversification Drives American Structurepoint's Success
American Structurepoint Inc. has been a mainstay of ENR Midwest’s Top Design Firms ranking, and this year the firm has been named Design Firm of the Year.
Founded in 1966, the more than 400-employee, Indianapolis-based engineering and architectural firm has consistently held its position in the top 15 of ENR Midwest’s Top Design Firms ranking since 2010. The firm jumped two spots to No. 13 this year with $82.27 million in revenue in 2017, up from $74.36 million the previous year. The privately held firm’s steady growth comes from its commitment to expanding services and meeting clients’ needs, whether it be in ASI’s traditional area of expertise in transportation engineering or its expanding architecture practice— which includes delivering corporate campuses for Indiana’s burgeoning tech sector and work at the state’s biggest universities—or structural engineering, landscape or other civil services.
“You look at the 51-year history at the firm, and you’ll see that it’s pretty good, solid, straight up [with] the right growth, with very, very few down years ... and I think the diversification is what’s driven that” says Greg Henneke, senior executive vice president and partner at the firm. “The only thing I would add then, are there differences? [With regard to architecture], I would say in the past 10 years [there] has been an initiative where we’ve said, if we’re going to do something, we want to be one of the best at it. We’ve really ramped up our efforts to compete, to be one of the best architects in the state—along with being the best transportation engineer in the state.”
Architect for Tech
That diversification has allowed the firm to bid on and win projects that other firms can’t deliver in-house. For example, American Structurepoint (ASI) is the architect, structural engineer, civil engineer, interior designer and landscape architect on the 40,880-sq-ft, $13.7-million Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) headquarters in Fishers, Ind. The association’s headquarters building and campus broke ground in November 2017, and when completed by design-build general contractor Meyer Najem this fall, the group will move from a crowded and outdated space in Indianapolis.
“We came to this decision only after 18 months of consideration of all options, including renovating the current space, finding new lease space, buying an existing structure and finally, building,” says Dennis Erskine, CEDIA chairman. “We had three separate financial firms vet the build-to-suit alternative, and all concluded that real estate in this booming area was a sound investment and a solid strategy to diversify CEDIA’s overall investment portfolio.”
ASI has been a beneficiary of the building boom among Indiana’s top tech companies, with clients such as CEDIA, BlueSky Technology Partners, Meyer Najem and others all building new headquarters in places such as Fishers and Noblesville. Meyer Najem has worked with ASI on several projects in Fishers, including their own headquarters in the Nickel Plate district. ASI got in on the ground floor of the hot market with the Launch Fishers project, an incubator for technology companies that started in rented space in Meyer Najem’s headquarters.
“[Launch Fishers] wanted some space in Meyer Najem’s new headquarters, and we had a little fun with it, and some creativity in designing the space,” says Rick Conner, president, chief operating officer and a partner at ASI. “Launch Fishers then met with all these up-and-coming entrepreneurs that quit high school and quit college, and they’re going to this space where they provide you WiFi and incubator space. So BlueSky came out of this little, tiny incubator space in the Meyer Najem headquarters building, and we were able to then work with them on their big project there at Federal Hill in Noblesville.”
BlueSky’s new structure was completed in August. ASI provided architecture, interior design, structural engineering, civil engineering, project management and site selection support services for the $6-million, four-story, 42,000-sq-ft mixed-use project.
“We started to vet the space out in Hamilton County, and we started that process by choosing our building partners. We chose Meyer Najem general contractors and American Structurepoint as our partners,” says Todd Irwin, CEO of BlueSky. “They took us and our associates through a visioning session and it was facilitated and executed by American Structurepoint. It was an invaluable way for the culture and quality and aesthetics of what BlueSky is as a brand and who we are as people to [be reflected in a design] output.”
The breadth of ASI’s multidisciplinary knowledge continues to help the company win repeat business from its many demanding clients.
“American Structurepoint has significant market knowledge coupled with the depth of resources necessary to deliver exceptional value to their clients,” says Sam Mishelow, chief strategy officer of Meyer Najem. “We chose ASI to design our new headquarter facility as well. The leadership team is intimately involved in cultivating long-term relationships with their many clients. Currently, we are working with ASI on the new headquarters for CEDIA in Fishers as well as the expansion of the Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center on the Noblesville Square.”
Beyond Its Borders
American Structurepoint is still one of the most in-demand transportation engineers in Indiana. The firm designed Section 6 of the $1.3-billion East End Crossing, ENR Midwest’s Best Project in the highways and bridges category last year. The project connects Louisville, Ky., and Jeffersonville, Ind., via bridges and roundabouts. The company also designed the $8.8-million Margaret Avenue Phase III project in Terre Haute, Ind., which connected Erie Canal Road and 19th Street with an overpass for the CSX railroad. Again showing its diversity of services, ASI was both land surveyor and designer of the new road.
“We definitely want to participate in larger and larger projects, because it helps to continue to fuel our growth,” Conner says. “We want to expand geographically, but we also want to expand the size and types of projects that we perform to continue to help the growth of the company. [The East End Crossing] is something that we wanted to be a part of, to help grow the depth and breadth of our résumé in our transportation group. Additionally, we wanted to be part of the new movement toward public/private partnerships, and this was one of the first ones in Indiana. I’ve heard that it’s been used as a template in other states.”
Growing beyond Indiana has brought ASI work in the last year in locales such as Austin, Texas, and a roundabout project to replace a four-way stop in the neighboring communities of North Ridgeville and Avon, Ohio.
The work that ASI did on the Ohio River bridges project ended up being a stepping stone to becoming involved with the $2-billion I-66 Outside the Beltway P3 Project in Virginia. The firm is designing an $800-million section of the overall project.
“That is the largest project we’ve ever done in our company,” Conner says. “It just, again, goes to show that we have a desire to work on bigger and larger projects.”