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|Articles - April 2013|
|Monday, April 01, 2013|
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BY APRIL STREETER
Looking out the sixth-floor windows of the David Evans and Associates building in downtown Portland, a visitor sees numerous engineering projects the company has either helped build or rebuild.
The Broadway and Hawthorne bridges were renovated by DEA. Across the Willamette, the Trail Blazers’ Arena and the Convention Center are DEA projects. As the gaze moves south, the new light rail bridge comes into view. DEA is engineering not the bridge itself but the remainder of the light-rail line out to Milwaukie. Much of the South Waterfront neighborhood surrounding DEA’s headquarters is DEA engineered.
Add to the view the constant hum of cars and trucks streaming over the Marquam Bridge, and you have an idea of the working space of Al Barkouli, who has headed DEA as CEO since 2010. Soft-spoken and relaxed, Barkouli’s demeanor is more patient college professor than entrepreneur. Yet his engagement with both engineering and the business of being a leader clearly emerge.
“Without surveyors and engineers and planners,” he muses, “life would be much more challenging. Our profession is really noble in that sense. And to inspire the people working around me to make a difference is what I find really meaningful.”
At the top of his high school class in Libya, Barkouli emigrated to the U.S. and received a degree in civil engineering. Since joining DEA in 1988 as a design engineer, the 55-year-old Barkouli has steadily climbed the ranks of the company David F. Evans founded in 1976 with two desks, two employees and a slide rule.
During most of Barkouli’s tenure, employee-owned DEA consistently expanded, growing to over 1,000 workers at its peak in 2007. Then the recession hit, and land development projects, the bread and butter of DEA’s business, began evaporating. By the time Barkouli became CEO, the company was in a holding pattern — not growing, but managing a profit. Diversifying the firm’s areas of expertise to encompass water projects, energy and transportation meant DEA was bringing in annual revenues of approximately $120 million.
Yet Barkouli realized more change was needed, in part because midsize companies like DEA were rapidly getting acquired. DEA’s recessionary contraction had slimmed the workforce, spread across 19 offices around the country, by a third. A reorganization had also focused the entire company on its primary markets, rather than different offices pursuing geographic specialties. These were economically necessary changes, but corporate identity suffered.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
BY ANDREA DURBIN | OB GUEST BLOGGER
Last week, the Obama administration took an important and welcomed step in the effort to protect the health and well-being of all Oregonians by limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants.
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE
I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.
Friday, June 27, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER
Over the last several months we have seen a wave of cross-border acquisitions, primarily U.S.-based companies looking to purchase non-U.S.-based companies. There are a few reasons for this, but the main culprit is the U.S. corporate tax system. The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.
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