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Black & Veatch: Global Construction Company

December 9, 2013

With more than 100 offices all over the world and having completed projects in more than 100 countries in six continents, Black & Veatch is truly a global construction company in every sense of the word. It is an engineering, consulting, construction and operations company focusing on infrastructure development in energy, water, telecommunications, management consulting, federal and environmental markets.

In 2012 the company had revenues of $3.3 billion and is ranked by Forbes as one of the largest privately owned companies in the U.S. Unlike family-owned or investment company-owned firms Black & Veatch is employee-owned.

The company was founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1915. It wasn’t employee-owned yet. Former University of Kansas classmates Ernest Bateman Black and Nathan Thomas Veatch started the company as a two-person partnership with 12 employees. On its first year it secured two large contracts, one in power and another in water.

The year 1917 marked the beginning of the company’s strong ties with the government as the U.S. Government War Department requested Black & Veatch to supervise construction of military training camps during World War I. It supervised the construction of Camp Pike in Little Rock, Arkansas. More camps were later constructed in Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The firm concentrated mainly on water and power projects throughout the Midwest in the early years. Black &Veatch in 1928 designed and constructed 250 miles of roadways for Jackson County, Missouri. After the World War II, in 1948 the firm began work for the Atomic Energy Commission at Los Alamos, New Mexico.  The following year saw the death of one of the company founders, Ernest Bateman Black who passed away on July 4, at the age of 67.

To ensure the posterity of Black & Veatch, N.T. Veatch formed a general partnership with 29 engineers in 1956. The company continued its organic growth and started engaging in international projects. In October 8, 1975 the other founder N.T. Veatch passed away at the age of 89.

Through organic growth and acquisitions Black & Veatch continued to grow.  A significant moment occurred in 1999 when the company changed its structure from general partnership to an employee-owned corporation. It has remained this way since then.



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