Richland company turns growth into new home

RICHLAND -- Federal Engineers & Constructors will celebrate continued growth as it marks its move into a new home Thursday with a formal grand opening.

The $4 million, 21,000-square-foot building is along the Columbia River on Richardson Road near the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory campus in Richland.

Dick French, president of the company that specializes in environmental cleanup including nuclear remediation and industrial construction, said the building reflects the company's progress.

French, who started FE&C in 2001, has seen annual revenues grow steadily from a few million initially to $20 million last year. But he recalls that startup was slow.

"We didn't have our first contract until 2002," he said. That first project was cleaning up nuclear burial grounds in Hanford's 300 Area.

Later, the Richland company worked on Hanford projects including the cocooning, or enclosing, of D Reactor; digging up waste burial grounds around B and C reactors; building the Waste Treatment Plant Simulator Training Facility and reroofing the historic B Reactor.

The 140-employee company expects $30 million in revenue this year, French said.

"We've had a compounded growth of 45 percent a year since 2001," he said.

Teamwork, shared decision-making and responsibility and an unwavering commitment to safety have helped the company become successful, he said.

FE&C is helping diversify the Tri-City economy with knowledge-based industry, said Scott Keller, executive director of the Port of Benton, which leased office space to FE&C until it moved last year.

Using the special skills the company developed working on Hanford projects, it can work globally and continue to add to local revenue, Keller said. It's a success story that economic development professionals dream about, he said.

The port charged FE&C a reasonable rate of rent for the 2,000 square feet it initially occupied in the port administration building on George Washington Way, Keller said. As the company grew and needed more space, he said it paid market rental rates.

French said FE&C is now working on six projects, two of which are funded by federal stimulus money. He said that highlights the need to market the company's expertise around the world.

The company is also providing technical services to clients in England and Canada. "If you can deal with radiation, you possibly can deal with all kinds of contaminants," French said.

-- Pratik Joshi: 509-582-1541;; Business Beat blog at