A Multi-Discipline Engineering Firm Specializing in Complex Projects

Dunaway Associates

Dunaway Associates, Inc. is a multi-discipline company that provides professional services to both the private and the public sectors in the state of Texas. Its primary services include civil engineering, structural engineering, planning and landscape architecture, survey services, environmental work and geographic information systems (GIS)/data management.
~
Dunaway Associates, Inc. was founded in 1956 by James R. Dunaway Sr. as a survey company, and it continued to operate that way until about twenty years later. It was then that James R. Dunaway Jr. received an engineering degree, joined his father and included engineering services in the business.

Over the years, the company has grown and expanded its services significantly. Dunaway has four office locations in Texas: Fort Worth, Austin, Midland and San Antonio, and it employs approximately 175 people.

“We really put an emphasis on creating a good work culture. We’ve gone to four-and-half-day work weeks; people put in nine hours Monday through Thursday and then have half days on Friday. We discourage a whole lot of overtime because we want people to have that life-work balance,” says Tom Galbreath, the president of Dunaway Associates.

A recent project which Dunaway designed and completed is the African Savannah exhibit at the Fort Worth Zoo, and the company is proud of its work on the signature project. It is currently working on a multi-purpose arena project in Fort Worth that is an expansion of the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The design is for an advanced arena that will hold 14,000 people and can be used for a variety of events including rodeos, concert venues and sporting activities.

The company’s projects are varied and representative of different markets. Other recent projects for the company include the robust expansion for the Texas Christian University and Cook Children’s Medical Center. “We’re doing everything from signature projects to mixed-use development – a lot of good balance is going on with all the different market sectors,” says Tom.

“The market is very tight on hiring. Because of the economy we’re in and the volume projects that need to get designed, it’s a challenge to find good people to hire,” says Chris Wilde, executive vice president at Dunaway. Another challenge for the company has been the restructuring of its internal systems due to the need for smooth communication and work sharing between locations.

As this is a sixty-two-year-old company, clients are benefiting from much experience. When dealing with its competitors, clients often have to work with multiple companies or project managers to complete the project. A distinguishing factor of the company is that when a client engages with the company to begin a project, Dunaway identifies a point person called the engagement manager.

“The engagement manager is responsible for all the various disciplines of the project. Essentially, clients have one point of contact with one invoice, and internally, what we do is we build a team around their project of the various disciplines,” says Chris. The company is pleased with the reaction it has received from its one team approach and believes that collaboration is key to success. Clients have said that the experience is smoother when dealing with one team.

Dunaway does not agree with reward systems that are based on the success of individual groups or people as that tends to create an atmosphere of hoarding knowledge and work. “We try to win together, and if we have a rough year, we’ll have a rough year together,” says Tom. “If a particular sector happens to be slow, they don’t get penalized that year if another group is really doing well.” Collaboration is better for the company in general, and the team works well together.

The company strives to be a great consultant in urban environments. “There’s a lot of redevelopment in the area as people are migrating back to the city, and there is more emphasis on redevelopment and urbanism,” says Tom. “We function really well in these complex environments where you have to build around existing infrastructure. There’s a lot complexity to build something in a built environment as opposed to an open field.”

Dunaway particularly enjoys working on difficult and stimulating projects and has developed expertise in campus environments. Higher education, healthcare and commercial office campuses all require complex design and construction. The company thrives on these sophisticated projects. “What we try to do is bridge our technical knowledge with the client’s aspirational goals and help them work through the technical complexity to achieve their business goal,” says Tom.

It has dedicated a group if its staff to GIS services, which works quite well with campus projects where clients need keep up to date with a lot of information. The company emphasizes its GIS capabilities and helps its clients to organize both the designs and the construction project as it moves along and even after the work is done.

“We have folks who can handle complex zoning and work out negotiations with the city on private-public partnerships. We really try to think like our client and act beyond our disciplines,” says Tom.

Energy companies are especially concerned with safety and regulation. Being located in the Permian Basin area and having worked with energy companies in the area for several years now, Dunaway is aware that without a very high safety rating, it would be unable to work in that market. Safety is paramount.

The company is known for its restoration efforts and expertise in water quality, wetlands and habitat issues, and eight years ago, it got involved in one of the first water quality projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In Denton, a four-hundred-acre mixed-use development that drained into an old conservation lake had turned into a public park, and water quality became a concern. Dunaway designed an expansive and complex water treatment process to improve the water quality in that area.

Sustainability and environmental efforts are important to the company. Tarrant County, where Fort Worth is located, is experiencing an extreme amount of growth, and with the population onslaught, sustainable development is essential. Environmental awareness is the future of the construction industry and will be a large part of what cities require from companies going forward.

Dunaway is highly involved in its community in Texas; it gives back in many ways and takes part in a variety of charitable organizations and events including Habitat for Humanity, blood drives, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Meals on Wheels and food banks. Canstruction is a unique program that is a combined effort of architects to create innovative structures made out of unopened canned food that is later donated to food banks. To date, Canstruction has donated seventy million pounds of food for hunger relief. The company also supports the Rise Against Hunger program that distributes food to third world countries and hopes to end world hunger by the year 2030. It is actively involved in hands-on efforts and makes regular financial donations.

Texas is a great state for business and construction, and Dunaway has spread its footprint throughout the entire state growing at a twenty percent rate for the last three years. “We feel like we have a lot of growth opportunities beyond Fort Worth, which is the largest part of our employment base, but we see a lot of growth happening in Austin, San Antonio and Midland.”

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 24, 2019, 2:38 PM EDT