Forty down, forty to go

Sep 09, 2016

McMahon Associates celebrates its accomplishments as it moves into a new era with continued focus on staff, shareholders, and clients.

By Liisa Andreassen Correspondent

Exciting things are happening this year at McMahon Associates, Inc. (#21 Best Firm Civil for 2015), a 150-person engineering, planning, design, and transportation firm with offices from New England to Florida. The source of the excitement? A 40th anniversary that runs through April 1, 2017.

“It’s a celebration of our employees, clients, projects, and the future,” says Joseph DeSantis, the firm’s president.

The year kicked off with a company-wide celebration that included a shareholder’s meeting, “State of the Firm,” social, press, and email communications to firm friends and clients, and various office-based events, including an anniversary cake decorating contest and monthly photo contests. They’ve also dedicated individual months to client appreciation, added a program called “McMahon Gives Back” for charitable work in the communities they serve, and monthly employee recognition programs.

DeSantis, who joined the firm 30 years ago, says he has seen exponential growth. They’ve added new services, geographic regions, and completed more than 18,000 engagements for 4,000 clients all while growing to 13 offices in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida.

What’s changed the most? DeSantis says it’s the complexity of studies and designs in transportation.

“These are technologies and challenges we couldn’t have dreamed of 40 years ago,” he says. “The focus on multimodal transportation solutions of recent years is a progression that can only benefit society in the long run.”

Additionally, a dramatic step in the firm’s evolution has been the development of TRAISR, a web-based asset-management program that manages public-sector clients’ infrastructure.

Employee investment. For the most part, when employees come to work for McMahon, they stay. Why? McMahon invests in its employees by offering good benefits, providing a fun atmosphere, and constant training. The firm continues to strive to improve staff’s knowledge and understanding of the latest tools and techniques available regarding traffic flow and highway design, while gaining their employees’ trust and dedication through enhanced benefits and a caring work environment.

The results have been exceptional as evidenced by the longevity of senior staff and low turnover from all levels. Culture is critically important, too.

“McMahon stands for quality service to our clients,” DeSantis says. “We knew we couldn’t maintain that designation without providing a caring, supporting, and challenging environment for all of our employees – from management team through entry-level positions.”

A significant part of their success is also attributed to the inclusion in ownership of key employees. As a subchapter-S corporation, they now have 32 shareholders.

McMahon also has:

  • Employee flex time.
  • The inherent mission to treat all employees as they would like to be treated.
  • A strong commitment to advancing women in engineering.
  • Social gatherings outside of the office such as picnics and athletic programs.
  • Executive committee/regional staff interaction events such as go kart racing, snowshoeing, boating, polo matches, and bowling.
  • A Pride & Promotion Committee that organizes group charitable activities and community service opportunities.
  • Bi-monthly in-house training, with outside WebEx and online training to supplement for professional development hours.
  • An in-house McMahon University program for all employees, in addition to project manager training.

And, it doesn’t end there. Surveys form the basis for making enhancements to the firm, either through corrective measures or adding new things to help make them a “Firm of Choice.” All employees share equal voice in regional, office, and company-wide planning sessions to help the firm move forward. Employee input/feedback is used to shape agendas, priority topics, and strategic planning.

Two project profiles. With nearly 18,000 projects completed and more in the works, DeSantis shares some details of two current large-scale projects that highlight the breadth of the firm’s expertise in addition to the longevity of the clients they have served:

Casey Arborway, Boston. McMahon is providing transportation and engineering services on the design team for MassDOT’s Casey Arborway project in Massachusetts, which will remove an aging urban elevated highway. The structurally deficient Casey Overpass, which is part of the Arborway, Route 203, is being removed and the project will restore a missing connection along Boston’s “Emerald Necklace.” During the planning stage, McMahon determined existing and projected traffic volumes, analyzed the traffic operations, prepared VISSIM traffic simulations, developed the successful conceptual design for the selected at-grade alternative, and participated in extensive public outreach.

The project is located in the vicinity of the Forest Hills Station in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, and the concepts developed were multi-modal with extensive bike, pedestrian, and transit elements. Final design is complete and the project is currently under construction. McMahon is providing construction services, particularly as it relates to the signal timings and traffic management.

Swarthmore Roundabout, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Swarthmore Town Center West is a development concept that includes the construction of an inn, restaurant, and retail space for a campus and community bookstore, located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, within the Swarthmore College on the west side of Chester Road, opposite Rutgers Avenue and Swarthmore Borough’s central business district.

This project was a “complete streets” transportation solution which included a roundabout, a newer concept in Pennsylvania, and blended the needs of motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users with surrounding land use from early planning through design and construction. The project included extensive public outreach, including meetings, brochures, and VISSIM microsimulation to educate citizens with regards to the traffic operations and benefits of the roundabout for all users.

“Achieving what we have in the last four decades is inspiring as well as humbling,” DeSantis says. “Our clients have helped us grow by trusting us with challenging and unique projects. We look forward to the next 40 years to see how we continue that growth and how the industry evolves. And as our shareholder base increases, we look forward to seeing how the next generations build on the foundation our first 40 years provided.”

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.