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Black & Veatch grows business with utility customers, universities

Black & Veatch Corp.’s Ann Arbor regional office has hired 25 engineers this year and expects to continue hiring at a 10 percent to 15 percent clip for the next several years to serve its growing client list, said Mike King, the consulting firm’s senior regional general manager in Ann Arbor.

Clients in Michigan include DTE Energy Co., Consumers Energy Co., ITC Holdings, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

Since opening the Ann Arbor office in 1988, Black & Veatch has grown from 25 employees to more than 300 to serve the energy and environmental industries in the U.S. and Canada.

“We hire most new people from Michigan Tech (in Houghton) and focus on energy engineers,” said King, a Detroit native who went to Cass Technical High Schooland has worked for the consulting firm for 27 years.

Black & Veatch also sponsors summer internship programs with UM, MSU and Michigan Tech, King said. The company also recruits from Western Michigan University, he said.

“Some of the other Black & Veatch offices hire from Michigan universities, and then some of these individuals transfer back to our Ann Arbor office” to be closer to home, King said.

Engineers hired range from chemical, electrical, civil and structural specialists to support the $3 billion multinational company’s energy, environmental and construction business.

The majority of assignments in Ann Arbor are focused on power generation, electric substations and transmission lines, King said. Renewable energy projects, primarily wind farms in the Michigan Thumb, have also stimulated growth the past five years, he said.

“We have helped DTE with its integrated resource plan” for its Fermi nuclear power plants, King said. “We’ve been putting on (anti-pollution) equipment on its power plants, working with Barton Malow on that, and partnering with DTE on wind energy development.”

“We have been focusing on helping DTE with its power delivery group as they plan to shut down coal plants and redo the grid. We are doing more in Canada, about 10 percent of our business.”

King said the growth of employees has caused it to undergo remodeling of its corporate office in Ann Arbor. The cafeteria has been moved to the basement to free up some additional work space.

“We designed our own office building 15 years ago and sold it back to the developer,” he said. “Now we lease it and need to expand.”

This article originally appeared in Crain's Detroit Business.
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