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The Infrastructure Imperative


Infrastructure Imperative


STS About History

Founded in 1948 by John P. Gnaedinger and Ted Van Zelst as Soil Testing Services, Inc., STS has transformed itself from a two-person testing service to a 500-person globally-recognized engineering consulting firm. Our growth has been built on a foundation of solid clients and industry leading talent - a condition we plan to preserve well into the future.

From its inception and into the '50s, STS primarily assisted commercial developers and public sector agencies in the Midwest plan, design and construct their buildings and affiliated infrastructure. The study of soil behavior was an emerging science in the late '40s and early '50s and STS was instrumental in helping to develop this new science. Innovations in exploration techniques, data analysis and design established STS as a leader in underground engineering and differentiated us from other providers.

The '60s witnessed significant growth at STS both in our size and service package. We began to make a name for ourselves in the waste management and environmental services arena. Our thorough understanding of soil dynamics, groundwater characteristics and subsurface exploration capabilities made for a natural transition into broader geo-environmental consulting. Siting, permitting, design and construction of earthen structures such as landfills, lagoons and impoundments became an area of special expertise for STS that we rapidly provided throughout the United States and abroad. It was during this time that STS began to service our clients' needs on a much broader geographic scale both domestically and internationally. We were fortunate to have earned our clients' trust and confidence, and as they sought out opportunities worldwide we often found ourselves their continued partner.

During the mid to late '70s, STS began to mature as a business, which resulted in new office locations, expanded service offerings and a more diversified client base. The decade also witnessed a flurry of high-rise development throughout the Midwest and a great opportunity for STS to deliver real value to a larger group of building owners and developers. The communities and industries at our core were experiencing new challenges such as stronger environmental regulations, rapid suburban development and incorporation of technological advances. STS focused on providing its clients with the expertise necessary to successfully address these issues.

A highlight in the development of STS occurred in the '80s when we capitalized on an opportunity to combine our engineering and scientific know-how with the strong entrepreneurial spirit that had come to define the firm. STS analyzed an abandoned dam and powerhouse in Michigan that was scheduled to be dismantled. STS engineers and scientists believed the facility could be successfully rehabilitated to provide a renewable energy source within the state. In the end STS redeveloped the site under the management of its new subsidiary, STS HydroPower, Ltd., and successfully reconnected to the grid. Before being sold in the mid-'90s, STS HydroPower, Ltd. grew to include a portfolio of 11 hydroelectric plants in Michigan, Virginia, Colorado, California and Oregon. Among other lessons, this experience supplemented our understanding of the issues faced by our owner/operator clients.

During the '90s STS experienced the many challenges and events associated with ownership change and the emergence of new leaders into an organization. As the founding fathers of STS passed the baton to a new group of practitioners and stakeholders, the company refocused on its core business of engineering consulting and emerged with the deepest and most diverse employee ownership group in the firm's history. Another trend from this period, which continues today, is the increased ability to provide design services to our clients. STS made great progress during this time in creating the ability to deliver design services with our core competencies of underground engineering, structural rehabilitation and site development.

STS has completed well over 100,000 projects in the United States and over 25 countries worldwide. Today we provide a comprehensive package of services to a well-balanced client base. We also maintain a staff of over 500 in multiple offices and continue to support our clients' interests at home and abroad. We continue to invest in technology, client support systems and our staff, and plan a future of high-profile projects and strong client ties fueled by our genuine desire to grow and succeed. Quality, experience and innovation are traits of our past, evident in our present, and critical to our future.