Overcoming hurdles

The 2012 MEP Giants recognizes the top 100 mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection engineering firms by MEP design revenue.


Each time the Olympic Games are on TV, I’m amazed at the dedication of the athletes. They’re dedicated to their country, their teammates, and most importantly, to their sport. Each Olympic medal is an unobtainable goal for us armchair athletes—I don’t know too many people who can swim or play volleyball or ride horses like these record-breaking athletes—but we all appreciate the competition and drama the games bring.

Olympic-style competition can be nearly as fierce in consulting firms. In many cases, several engineering firms bid on the same project, only to find that they don’t receive the contract due to one or more problems, such as price or even personnel issues. Much like Olympians, engineers get right back up on the horse and try again for a different project. Perseverance and persistence pay off, and engineers find that practice makes perfect.

This month we recognize those firms that continue to excel financially. The 2012 MEP Giants recognizes the top 100 mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection engineering firms by MEP design revenue. Download complete listings, project profiles, and other information on the interactive MEP Giants page

As in any competition, there were some upsets. AECOM Technology, URS Corp., and Burns & McDonnell usually occupy the top three spots, with some movement each year within these three positions. This year, 24 new firms joined the list, shaking up the rankings—and resulting in a different firm taking first place.

This influx of previously unseen firms changed the overall results a bit, increasing the MEP design revenue by approximately $5 billion and knocking some of the “regulars” off the bottom of the listing. The industry stalwarts that fell off the list are by no means forgotten—they are doing some of the most interesting and influential engineering in the field and are invited to show off their work in future months.

So what does this tell us? First, competition is strong in the engineering industry. Though some firms are struggling and have either been acquired by other firms or simply closed their doors, others are thriving by becoming specialists in a particular area or by developing business differently.

Second, firms understand the importance of promoting themselves in a difficult economy. By showcasing their engineering success stories through publishing, speaking at events, and using social media to engage with others, consulting firms are setting themselves apart from the rest of the pack. During this recession, companies that have continued with their marketing campaigns and business development programs are thriving.

Finally, the uncertainty in the industry has pushed firms into branching beyond their core competencies. Engineers are still focusing on the standard bread-and-butter projects, but they’re also taking on new and different projects.

Much like Olympians, the MEP firms in our industry continue to excel. I expect to see firms on next year’s MEP Giants list shift yet again as the industry becomes more active with the uptick in the economy.


*In the August 2012 MEP Giants coverage, MEP design revenue was reported incorrectly in two cases. Southland Industries (No. 4) provided its gross revenue numbers only, and did not break out MEP design revenue. Southland Industries is, therefore, not eligible to be considered an MEP Giant. Consulting-Specifying Engineer incorrectly reported MEP design revenue numbers for M.E. Group Inc. (No. 14); the firm's 2012 design revenue was $7.1 million. This magazine regrets the errors.

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