Helping Clients with Designs, Budgets and Best Practices
D'Huy Engineering, Inc.
D’Huy Engineering, Inc. (DEI) of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, maintains its reputation for quality by employing excellent people, supplying them with top-notch technology, and instilling them with a simple maxim: Treat each project like it’s your own home. “If you do this,” says D’Huy President Arif Fazil, “then quality is going to become second nature.”
It appears to be a winning formula. D’Huy (the company name is pronounced “Dowee”), originally founded in 1976 by engineer Gerald D’Huy, began as a structural design and analysis firm and quickly expanded to include forensic engineering. Early on, the company was tasked with some high-profile assignments, including an investigation into major leaks and cracks discovered in Yankee Stadium in 1979. Over the decades, the firm grew in size and expanded the scope of its services. DEI, a designated Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), now offers construction and project management, facilities engineering, and infrastructure and design consultation services.
In addition to its Bethlehem headquarters, the firm has an office in Ambler, Pennsylvania and in Wilmington, Delaware. While DEI has completed renovation projects in New York City, most of its work takes place in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“In most cases we work for the owner, but there are projects where we work for architects and in a few cases, we work for the contractor. We provide consulting, oversight, and design and project management,” says Fazil. He estimates that 70 percent of the company’s workload “is in the public arena with the remaining 30 percent in the private arena.” Public sector work generally involves school districts, townships, and water and wastewater facilities.
Project and construction management involves a series of tasks including establishing the scope of work, the budget, preparing clear, concise and complete bid documents, value engineering, securing approvals and permits, and overseeing and managing the implementation. DEI also works with owners to engage architects and other professionals to execute the design. Helping clients get good competitive bids is particularly important on public sector assignments, because “with public projects, everything has to be publicly and competitively bid,” explains Fazil. “The process has many moving parts and is very transparent, so you have to focus on making sure the bid documents are clear, concise and complete. We specialize in making sure all the pieces fit together. We take a lot of pride in the details and in doing things the right way.”
D’Huy oversees all the construction implementation – focusing on quality, schedule, budget, safety, owner criteria, risk management and coordinating approvals – to create successful solutions for the client.
DEI’s structural design work could entail “something as simple as retrofitting an existing structure to support some new equipment or providing the structural design for an entirely new building. We do a lot of work in Manhattan and Brooklyn on renovations of existing buildings where they gut them and install new stairs, floors and other improvements,” he continues.
Infrastructure and design consultation typically involve water or wastewater plants, “but we also do some power infrastructure projects. We work for some of the utility providers on some of the water and wastewater systems. We’re actually acting as the design engineer in some cases; in other cases, we’re acting as a consultant to the primary design engineer and in a few cases we’re providing construction oversight for the implementation of the infrastructure, repairs and upgrades,” he maintains.
In terms of forensic engineering, “A lot of the work we do is retrofit and claims prevention. In many cases, an owner has a problem with a building. Many problems are building envelope-related while some are structural. Right now, we’re doing a lot of work on a building in central Pennsylvania that is going through a major reconstruction. We’re documenting all the pieces as part of a potential claim the owner may file,” states Fazil.
Facilities engineering covers a wide range of services, including energy management, feasibility studies, master planning, building maintenance and repair. Specific facilities engineering projects range from roof replacement to a boiler replacement, or sidewalks and paving repairs.”
Fazil takes great pride in all of the projects his firm has undertaken, but when asked to discuss some he highlighted three projects, due to their significant impact on their respective communities. These projects included providing a new college campus to a Monroe County community, a large four-year phased renovation of a historic high school, and being part of the team that executed the first Referendum project in the state of Pennsylvania.
DEI provided comprehensive pre-construction and project management services for the construction of a new campus in Monroe County, PA for Northampton Community College. This LEED Gold project included the construction of three new buildings totaling 205,500 square feet plus parking lot solar canopies on a 71-acre green site. This college campus provides educational and athletic opportunities for the students as well as programming, job training and placement for the community. This project “transformed a community, in an area that did not have a college,” states Fazil.
D’Huy provided planning, cost estimation, value engineering, project administration, bidding and on site construction management for work on Liberty High School in the Bethlehem Area School District. This large four-year phased renovation of a highly visible and recognized 1928 school in historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was not without its challenges, but D’Huy focused on making sure the school continued to function at a high level for the students and faculty while work was being executed. “Challenges aside, keeping their academics, safety and high school experience at the forefront of all discussions was paramount,” says Fazil.
DEI’s Upper Dublin High School project in Montgomery County is significant to Fazil not for its impressive façade or its LEED Gold Status or its $100 million price tag; instead he talks only of it being the first Referendum project approved in the state of Pennsylvania. “This was a huge deal!” states Fazil. “To have an entire community back the project, especially one of this size, is extraordinary. We did not take this lightly.” As is D’Huy’s promise, the high school was completed on time and on budget.
D’Huy Engineering has embraced “green” building principles and has successfully completed many LEED projects. For Fazil, however, being environmentally friendly involves more than just using low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint and recycled building materials. A truly “green” structure requires a well-designed, well-insulated building envelope and energy-efficient internal heating, lighting and power systems, he explains.
“It always starts with the building envelope and the building [site]. How do you best use the site and the infrastructure that is there? Next, provide an integrated and best value system for the building envelope. Then we look at lighting systems, HVAC systems and fuel sources [for power and heating]. Are you using natural gas? Are you using oil? Are you using electricity? Focusing on these building systems is much more impactful to your overall budget,” explains Fazil.
Being environmentally conscious isn’t always the cheapest option; compliance with LEED certification “can get onerous, financially,” Fazil points out. As such, D’Huy will help clients apply for grants that help pay for these energy-saving features. To date, D’Huy has assisted 12 LEED Gold projects in receiving ACE grants. (To quantify, these 12 projects represent almost 40 percent of the ACE Grant funds awarded to school districts by the state of Pennsylvania.)
D’Huy is a recognized leader in project management services, highly skilled in the planning and phasing of its projects. Its philosophy is to Plan the Work, then Work the Plan. To support this philosophy, D’Huy employs a variety of high-tech tools including Building Information Modeling (BIM), Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software and an online project management tool called Projectmates. “Technology is paramount. People demand answers and information quickly,” says Fazil.
For all the talent and technology deployed by D’Huy Engineering, the company’s continued success stems largely from its collaborative approach to projects and a workplace culture that encourages teamwork, innovation and excellence. “One of the things we’re really good at is being a good partner and we use an Integrated Team Approach. Many of our projects would not have been successful without partnerships and without the other team members,” shares Fazil. Team members might include owners, architects, contractors, tradespeople and government officials.
As for D’Huy personnel, “I think this is a company based very heavily on the talents of each employee and we value that incredibly. We think our talents are better than anyone else’s. I think the employees that work here are huge contributors to the success of D’Huy Engineering,” says Fazil.
At present, D’Huy has 51 employees in total, including licensed engineers and architects, project managers, LEED professionals, and cost-estimating and construction experts. The company looks for individuals who not only possess the technical competency, experience and familiarity with commercial infrastructure but also those team players who are focused on the client. Employees clearly like working for D’Huy; the company has consistently made the list of Top Workplaces in the Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania), as sponsored by The Morning Call, an area newspaper.
In terms of promotion, D’Huy maintains a website and social media presence and attends trade shows, but still relies heavily on its reputation to attract new work. “The company has a lot of repeat clients and appreciates the references they provide,” states Fazil. This positive reputation is evident in the company’s continued growth. The years 2017 and 2018 were particularly good for the firm. “This year we’re doing really well. Probably even better than those years,” says Fazil.
With the company’s trajectory on the rise, Fazil says, “One of the biggest challenges hampering our potential growth is finding new talent and the support team and professionals to contribute to the services that we provide.”
For all that, he envisions a bright future. D’Huy Engineering has a transition plan in place that eventually will see a new team of existing principals run the firm and ensure continuity and continued success.
“We’re obviously looking for growth from all of the principals, but growth that will allow the company to maintain its character… as a team and a family-oriented place that works very hard for its clients. Our focus will continue to be on providing quality services to our clients and ensuring their projects remain successful,” states Fazil.