More than a decade after arriving in the Pacific Northwest, Burns & McDonnell has begun reaping the rewards of its efforts to expand in the region. The firm’s $40.7 million in regional revenue in 2022 was a 160% increase from the year prior.

The numbers underscore the company’s philosophy of meeting the needs of its clients, says Rick Nye, Pacific Northwest T&D operations director.

“One of our founding principles is ‘client service drives our success,’” he says. “We’re looking at the long-term relationship with the client, not just a project-based relationship. We focus on their needs and make sure we understand what will make them successful.”

That success—along with well-planned expansion initiatives in the Pacific Northwest—solidified Burns & McDonnell’s leadership position within the region. As a result, ENR has named Burns & McDonnell Northwest Contractor of the Year for 2023.

Burns & McDonnell opened its first regional office in Vancouver, Wash., in 2011. Since then it has expanded to Portland, Ore., Seattle and its latest addition in Richland, Wash.

This growth—combined with the firm’s adept utilization of progressive design-build, open book EPC delivery methods, facilitated streamlined operations and reduced costs and schedule risks on large capital projects—helped to bolster the firm’s bottom line in the post-pandemic market.


Relationship Building

The contractor has a foundation built on strong client relationships.

“Sometimes you’re only as good as your last project,” says Dan Korinek, senior vice president and general manager in both the Pacific Northwest and Denver regions. “We perform at a very high level. Our clients count on us to put out a very quality product.”

Many of those products are infrastructure projects, particularly in the electrical transmission and distribution, grid modernization, and energy storage sectors.

In the case of the latter, the company has executed multiple complex projects for Bonneville Power Administration including the Maupin Substation and Customer Interconnect, Franklin Substation and Remote Sites and the Jones Canyon Reactor.

Clients include PacifiCorp, Idaho Power, Puget Sound Energy and Portland General Electric.

Developing and improving infrastructure has been a core competency of Burns & McDonnell since its founding in 1898 by Stanford University engineer graduates Clinton Burns and Robert McDonnell. The partners selected Kansas City, Mo., as their home base due its central U.S. location and proximity to a plethora of potential water and sewer clients.

While the company’s world headquarters remains in Kansas City, Burns & McDonnell has expanded its footprint to include more than 70 offices in seven countries and a total of 13,500 employees.

Burns & McDonnell’s portfolio has also expanded, offering clients more than 350 engineering, architectural, construction, environmental and consulting services, including 1898 & Co., Burns & McDonnell’s business technology and security consultancy, which recently formulated a three-year business intelligence road map for the Port of Portland.

“We do it all,” Korinek says, regarding the company’s diverse array of services, “and that is a really big bonus for us. We’re not just [focused on] water and power. Anything our clients need, we’re there for them.”

power lines

The growing power needs of the Pacific Northwest have proven to be a strong opportunity for Burns & McDonnell in the region.
Photo courtesy Burns & McDonnell

Investing in People, Community

In 1985, Burns & McDonnell’s employees purchased the firm from its then owner Armco Steel. Today the contractor is 100% employee-owned, a factor Korinek and Nye say is another crucial ingredient to its success.

“Everybody that walks in the door is an owner of the firm and that really is a benefit to our clients,” Korinek says. “It drives collaboration and teamwork, not just within our individual offices, but across all of our offices. When we have teams that are working that well together our clients benefit because we’re all in.”

Burns & McDonnell also encourages its team members to engage within the community; 50 of the region’s 65 employees dedicated their time to local outreach projects in 2022, including STEM programs for K-12 students.

The firm is also building partnerships to support DBE subcontractors and donated more than $15,000 to regional organizations last year.