SSOE Inc. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on SSOE Inc.

1001 Madison Avenue
Toledo, Ohio 43624-1535

Company Perspectives:

For more than 50 years, SSOE has helped clients both big and small ac hieve their objectives. We rely on our people to focus on your needs by providing the best service in the industry. Our specialists in des ign, engineering and planning deliver full-service solutions that are responsive and cost-effective. We believe that exceptional performan ce is only possible when people make a commitment to achieving it. Th at is the commitment our team can make to you. SSOE is a nationally r ecognized firm with the combined strengths of more than 500 professio nals doing business in across the globe in diverse markets. We serve as a leader by providing the best service in the industry. Integrity. Dedication. Experience ... these are the qualities of the profession of SSOE.

History of SSOE Inc.

SSOE Inc. is a leading architectural and engineering firm with 11 off ices in California, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, Puerto Ric o, and Shanghai, China. The company employs approximately 600 profess ionals, providing various services in a wide range of markets, includ ing automotive and part suppliers, chemical, commercial, education an d athletic, energy, food, healthcare, manufacturing, personal care, p harmaceutical, and retail. The company operates one wholly owned subs idiary, SSOE Systems, Inc., a provider of integrated solutions with s ingle point responsibility from design and startup, to procurement an d troubleshooting.

1940s Origins

SSOE Inc. began in 1948 when founder A.H. Samborn, a structural engin eer, signed his first contract with Spurgeon Conveyor Company to desi gn a material handling system for converting a boiler plant from oil to coal. Samborn called his company A.H. Samborn & Associates, bu t renamed it Samborn, Steketee and Associates after fellow structural engineer Jack N. Steketee joined the firm in 1949 to help with the i ncreasing number of projects. The fledgling company initially worked only on small material handling design and structural steel detailing projects. In 1950, the company completed its first industrial archit ectural project by building a diesel repair shop for Toledo Terminal Railroad, and provided all the structural steel detailing for the All en County War Memorial Coliseum, then the largest all-welded rigid fr ame structure in existence. Over the next few years, the company took on new challenges, including projects for such clients as The Anders ons, Ford Motor Company, and Surface Combustion, the firm's first rep eat client.

By 1953, the firm had 32 employees, and the following year the compan y diversified into highway design services with its first project in designing highway improvements for U.S. Rte. 24 between Defiance and Napoleon, Ohio. In 1955, upon the recommendation of the Ford Motor Co mpany, the firm won a major commission from National Carbon Company ( later renamed UCAR Carbon) to design a warehouse and manufacturing fa cility in Tennessee. With its growing business and services, the firm added architects Erwin J. (Burrie) Otis, Jr., and John H. Evans in 1 956, setting the stage for a major expansion in business. In that sam e year, the company established a Cleveland, Ohio, office to provide structural detailing services to the surrounding area. From 1957 to 1 961, the company set up an affiliate partnership under the name Hatch , Samborn, Steketee to pursue highway design projects. In 1958, the c ompany changed its name to Samborn, Steketee, Otis and Evans, Enginee rs and Architects, later known as SSOE. By the end of the decade, the company had diversified its operations into plumbing, fire protectio n, power distribution, lighting and communications. It had won its fi rst international project in 1959 from UCAR Carbon, a $10 million contract for a graphitizing plant in Monterrey, Mexico.

The 1960s: Company Expands and Diversifies

In 1960, with a staff of 58 including six partners and two office loc ations in Ohio, the company began to diversify the types of projects it undertook and its client base in the Toledo area. The company's de sign label appeared on a range of business projects, from Blue Cross of Northwest Ohio, to Lutheran Welfare Services in West Toledo, to th e Anderson Office Building in Maumee. The company's 1961 project invo lving Crestview Club Apartments, a full care retirement community, wa s the first of many health care projects to come. In 1962, the compan y won several contracts from Libbey-Owens-Ford at its facilities in O hio, Iowa, Illinois, West Virginia, California, and Canada. The highl ight came with a $20 million design contract for a flat-glass pro duction facility in Italy.

The company continued to expand and diversify its business throughout the remainder of the 1960s with its entrance into new fields of engi neering and architectural design. By the late 1960s, the company had added new services, including environmental control, industry process design, and fast track construction techniques. These services enabl ed the firm to undertake new projects in the chemical and refining in dustries. To keep pace with technological advances, the firm establis hed a computer division to assist in the design process. The company now designed anything from manufacturing plants, to post offices, to office buildings.

The 1970s: Slower Times

Although the 1960s was a profitable time for the company, the 1970s p roved less prosperous amidst a declining domestic economy. Nonetheles s, the firm's early diversification enabled it to weather the slower times. SSOE completed design projects for such major clients as Champ ion Spark Plug, Owens-Illinois, and longtime client Union Carbide. It also branched out into the international arena, completing projects in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Singapore, Japan, Spain, Italy, England, S outh Africa, Brazil, Mexico, India, and France. In 1977, the firm und erwent its first organizational change when Samborn stepped down as p resident and was replaced by Steketee, his long time partner. Samborn remained on as chairman of the board of directors. By 1978, the firm had offices in Toledo, Ohio, and Flint, Michigan, and had acquired t he firm, Dunbar Associates of Monroe, Michigan.

The 1980s: Boom Times and New Directions

The 1980s returned the firm to more prosperous times. This renewed pr osperity stemmed in part from the addition of computer graphics to it s core business, helping to boost the firm's reputation for innovativ e design and technical expertise. In 1980, the firm established SSOE Systems as a wholly owned subsidiary to provide turnkey integrated co mponents for process and building systems. The firm also contributed to Honda Motor Company's building of its first U.S. plant at Marysvil le, Ohio. In that same year, after merging its Flint office with the firm of Lantz-Griggs, the company developed the enterprises into a se lf sustaining, full-service design firm with approximately 150 employ ees. This development enabled the Flint office to obtain in 1982 its largest project award, a $90 million contract to modernize the Ro ck Island Arsenal in Illinois. Partners Otis and Steketee died in 198 2 and 1984, respectively. Before his death, however, Steketee had pas sed the mantel of leadership in 1981 to Byron West. In 1984, the firm Samborn, Steketee, Otis and Evans officially renamed itself SSOE Inc . Thereafter, in 1986 Samborn retired from the company. With most of the original partners gone, SSOE's new leadership took the firm in ne w directions by intensifying marketing, increasing computerization, e xpanding into new cities, and entering into new fields of specializat ion. The acquisition of Nashville, Tennessee-based Pickney & Asso ciates in 1987 both increased the size of the firm and enabled SSOE t o pursue more challenging projects with a regional presence. The acqu isition also brought with it such established clients as Ford Nashvil le Glass, General Motors, and Bridgestone Tire. By 1988, SSOE had ris en to national prominence, leading the magazine Building Design &a mp; Construction to rank it the nation's 12th largest in size amo ng engineering and architectural firms.

The 1990s: Continued Growth

In 1990, SSOE expanded to the state of Washington to serve the growin g business on the West coast. The company's primary focus was industr ial with Boeing as a major client. Among the firm's projects in the e arly 1990s were the Glass Bowl Stadium, a $5 million expansion of Honda's engine plant in Aurora, Ohio, and a new high school in Archi bold, Ohio. SSOE also designed the master plan for the 2,000-acre Mau mee Bay State Park, one of the public parks, forests, and wildlife re fuges that line the shores of Lake Erie in northwestern Ohio. The tot al cost of developing the park and its 120-room lodge was $50 mil lion. In 1991, SSOE also established a presence in Detroit with the o pening of a Troy, Michigan, office. Two years later in 1993, Frank Mc Auliffe retired as CEO and was replaced by 28-year company veteran, G ary McCreery. The company set up a new leadership training and develo pment program in 1995 to mentor in-house leadership and professional skills. In 1996, the firm established SSOE Studios as a strategic bus iness unit in the Toledo office to focus on architectural and enginee ring design in the commercial, educational, and healthcare markets. A t the same time, SSOE's Nashville operation was working on projects f or a variety of businesses, including Nissan and Toyota.

SSOE's Tennessee office also was selected to design the corporate hea dquarters building for U.S. Xpress in Chattanooga. The firm designed the structure with a metal skin, consisting of Alucobond Material, to accommodate U.S. Xpress's desire for a building that would symbolize high technology and forward thinking. The design team drew up plans for a three-story, cantilevered triangular building, featuring 105,00 0 square-feet. The building was designed with neither a designated fr ont nor rear with the axis through the structures culminating at the boardroom balcony. In addition, in 1998, SSOE served as the lead arch itectural and engineering design firm for the construction of Daimler Chrysler's new $1.2 billion assembly plant of the 21st century.

Continued Growth and Globalization in the New Century

The firm won a contract in May 2001 as the lead architectural and eng ineering firm for a $930 million Nissan assembly plant near Canto n, Mississippi. In 2003, SSOE's expanded its presence to Portage, Mic higan; Irvine, California; and Cincinnati and Lima, Ohio. In the same year, SSOE and San Antonio-based Marmon Monk won a joint contract to design Toyota's planned pickup plant. SSOE was well suited for the p roject as about 30 percent of its business came from automotive indus try work. The partners, which were the recipients of the first contra ct toward the plant's construction, called for drafting plans for the facility's grading, foundation, structural steel, utilities, heating and air conditioning, shops, cafeteria, and administration building.

In 2005, SSOE opened an operation in Shanghai, China, to manage a var iety of projects in and around the country. The firm hired Enzo Colon na, an experienced international manager of diversified industrial bu siness sectors, to man the one-office shop. Colonna, who spoke four l anguages, brought with him 32 years of consulting, architectural, eng ineering, and construction experience from such companies as Lockwood Greene International and Philip Holzmann International. The move fol lowed China's relaxation of market barriers after its three year memb ership in the World Trade Organization that made it more profitable f or U.S. companies to do business in the country. SSOE had numerous cl ients setting up operations in China, prompting the firm to follow wi th an eye on the Chinese auto industry. The Shanghai office came afte r SSOE's opening in 2004 of a Puerto Rico operation to serve the isla nd's growing pharmaceutical industry.

Principal Subsidiaries: SSOE Systems, Inc.

Principal Competitors: The Day & Zimmerman Group Inc.; Jac obs Engineering Group Inc.; Foster Wheeler Corporation; Kellogg Brown & Root Inc.


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