Understanding What Is Underground --- Critical for Construction Projects
Driving by a construction project like the Apple Data Center in Prineville, the new Middle School on the west side of Bend, the former Fuqua Homes industrial site off the Bend Parkway, or the Colorado Avenue Dam Safe Passage Project on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon, most folks are interested in the earth moving, building construction or the heavy equipment in use. All of that is what we see on the surface, but, before any of that can get started, the owners and their design/construction team must know what there is below ground. If the project is built in Central Oregon, the owner is likely to use The Wallace Group, Inc. (TWG), to explore, collect and analyze the subsurface information they need.
The Wallace Group, is a multi-disciplinary engineering and construction service firm specializing in site analysis for major construction projects. They analyze soil and geologic conditions and provide geotechnical engineering design, laboratory analysis of construction materials, and special inspections during project construction. The resulting analysis tells contractors whether the subsurface can support the bridge, building, road, bridge, or tower planned for the site, and what soil or imported fill materials will provide the right base on which to construct the project. Seismic and geologic data also provides structural engineers with site-specific information for use in foundation and structural design for the project.
Scott Wallace, R.G., President/Principal Geologist, originally founded the Bend-based geo-environmental practice for an organization called Kleinfelder, a large national engineering firm in 1997. Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Mark Herbert, P.E., joined the practice in 2000 and since that time the organization has flourished with Wallace, Herbert and staff becoming recognized experts in the Central Oregon geosystem and providing clients throughout the Pacific Northwest with practical, Applied Earth and Environmental Science solutions. In 2010, Scott Wallace purchased the practice and the firm was renamed Wallace Group. The firm is currently certified as an Emerging Small Business in Oregon.
Wallace and Herbert have more than 60 years of combined experience in the professional consulting industry with both having worked for prominent regional and national firms. The business has nearly doubled in size over the past five years and currently employs geotechnical engineers, geologists, construction inspectors, technicians and administrative staff that cater to local municipalities and state agencies, school districts, developers, irrigation districts, contractors and health care providers, in addition to major national and Pacific Northwest retail and institutional clients. Wallace Group’s local focus provides clients and citizens of the area with extensive technical knowledge and applied experience in the practice of geotechnical engineering, geology, environmental science, hydrogeology, environmental compliance, and construction inspection/testing.
Part of the reasons for company success is the help Scott has received through counseling with SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Executives), an SBA affiliated non-profit. They worked with him to develop and execute an effective Marketing Plan. According to Wallace, “In my opinion the time we spent together early on in my business venture was very helpful. SCORE provided a great resource and sounding board as I entered the small business realm.” Many local businesses utilize this free counseling service supported by the Federal Small Business Administration and manned by volunteers who have extensive hands-on experience in starting and running businesses.
As part of the plan, TWG and SCORE worked on a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to determine the firm’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP, also part of a framework for marketing referred to as “Market Positioning”). This led to a program to promote the firm via networking, project signage, press releases, listings in key publications, community and non-profit event sponsorship, and monitoring government solicitations that align with TWG’s Positioning and USP. The company website was revamped with better “sell” copy and design to encourage prospects to take action.
Wallace Group’s SCORE Mentor, Gerald Smith, states, “Wallace Group represents one of the perfect types of SCORE clients. They were undergoing a major change during an extremely challenging economic time and looking for ways to sustainably grow and position the business. They had the desire and capability to grow dramatically, but needed some guidance to avoid mistakes and get maximum results from minimum efforts. Scott was very receptive to our suggestions and worked on the project diligently. We helped them market smarter because we SCORE mentors have successfully “been there- done that” in our own businesses.”
SCORE continues to contribute with infrequent meetings and discussions regarding current needs, problems, and opportunities, often serving as a sounding board for ideas and new initiatives. Wallace Group has become a company that is highly involved in the Central Oregon community. They are active with the Bend Chamber of Commerce, local high school engineering Job Shadow Program, the local chapter of the Professional Engineers of Oregon, and Scott Wallace serves on the board of The Bend Park and Recreation District. They have successfully integrated their business into becoming an asset for Bend and its surroundings.
The future of Wallace Group is bright as the area continues to grow and recover from the recession. They expect to continue adding employees and helping Central Oregon grow well into the future. In the process, they all look forward to getting their hands dirty.