A Woolpert photo of Scott Cattran, Woolpert president and chief executive, in Dubai in 2017. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Woolpert maps its future with acquisitions and technology

Beavercreek company serves growing array of clients here and abroad

If you think you know Woolpert based on its long Dayton history, think again.

Today, Woolpert is an increasingly national and even global architecture, engineering and geospatial firm. The company is mapping its future based on organic growth, acquisitions and more than a few smart plays, company leaders believe.

Woolpert has been working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base since before it was an Air Force base. Woolpert was involved in the raising of the latest CareSource building downtown.

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And the Beavercreek-based company was there as Fuyao Glass America transformed a shuttered General Motors assembly plant into the world’s largest automotive glass factory, one that today employs more than 2,000 people.

Whether it’s helping communities recover from natural disasters or reconfiguring a road to help make room for the new home of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), Woolpert uses increasingly sophisticated tools to solve technical problems for an array of public and private clients.

Shane Imwalle, Woolpert chief strategy officer and senior vice president. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Staff Writer

“We’re homegrown, but we’re arguably one of the most niche, high-end geospatial firms on the planet,” said Shane Imwalle, Woolpert chief strategy officer and senior vice president. “And we integrate that technology into our traditional array of services.”

“That’s our vision,” said Scott Cattran, who was named Woolpert president and chief executive in 2016. “We talk about vision and mission.”

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The “vision” is being one of the premier AEG companies — indeed, one of the top 100 employers anywhere in any industry, the CEO said. Company leaders carefully attend to workplace culture surveys and online reviews by former and current employees.

“We monitor it very carefully, because it’s a great way to measure culture,” Cattran said.

Locally, some may think of Woolpert as a “sleepy engineering firm,” Imwalle said.

Beyond Dayton, though, that perception begins to shift.

“When you get an hour away from Dayton, we’re kind of a different company than we are locally,” said Imwalle, who grew up in the Dayton area.

Photo: Staff Writer

Founded in 1911, the company has approaching 1,000 employees in 30 offices nationwide (including Cincinnati and Columbus), with about 250 in the Dayton area.

But it’s hard to miss the company’s increasingly international character. In December, Woolpert acquired Southern Mapping, a geospatial and aerial survey company based in Johannesburg, South Africa — some 8500 miles from Dayton.

Southern Mapping has high-accuracy lidar, imagery and remote sensing experience, offering airborne topographic, hyperspectral, and thermal surveys and mapping.

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Cattran describes key sectors for the company — building, infrastructure, geospatial and strategic consulting.

In that latter sector, Woolpert employees can find themselves in the “C” suite, helping clients plan long-term strategies.

“Then you become more of a partner than a vendor,” Imwalle said. “It’s just an entire relationship that gets you closer to that client.”

Each of those sectors requires a different growth strategy, the CEO said.

“Acquisitions are part of it,” Cattran said.

Woolpert has secured a large share of the geospatial market domestically, so it makes sense to look beyond U.S. borders in that sector, Cattran said.

Whereas the infrastructure sector is more firmly at home in the United States. “That sector we want to use to help grow our national footprint and Western footprint, because we’re more of a Midwest firm,” the chief executive said.

The privately held company does not release precise revenue figures, but growth has been steady for a while now, Cattran said. Growth has exceeded 20 percent in the past five years, with organic growth and acquisitions each feeding into that.

Diversified as it is, Woolpert doesn’t have all its eggs in one basket.

“Every recession hurts the general economy, but we are well diversified,” Cattran said. “We’ve done a slice and dice of our clients, too. We don’t have any client that’s larger than 10 percent of our total revenue or profitability. So that insulates us.”

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