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CEI, Cromwell lead state: two Rogers firms do majority of work outside Arkansas.

Two Rogers Finns Do Majority of Work Outside Arkansas

CEI engineering associates Inc. and Cromwell Architects Engineers remain the largest engineering and architectural firms in the state, according to Arkansas Business' annual rankings.

The staff at each firm has grown since last year's list.

CEI, based in Bentonville with offices in California, Florida and Maryland, now has 138 employees, 18 more than last year. That is 27 more than the second-largest firm, Garver & Garver in Little Rock.

Cromwell, based in Little Rock with an office in Fayetteville, has 84 employees, two more than last year. Perry L. Butcher & Associates Architects of Rogers is the second largest architectural firm with 50 employees.

Most of the architectural firms do a vast majority of their work in Arkansas. But two Rogers firms, Butcher and The Benchmark Group, do more than half of their work outside Arkansas.

Both firms do projects for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which accounts for much of the out-of-state work.

Jim Parks, director of marketing for The Benchmark Group, says the firm has architects licensed in 48 states. The Benchmark Group has done work as far away as Hawall, he says.

Perry L. Butcher and Associates has worked steadily on Wal-Mart projects for the past 14 years, marketing director Delvin Nation says.

"Perry started with Wal-Mart in the beginning," Nation says. "Shortly after they did a couple of stores, they went elsewhere."

Nation says Perry Butcher has worked on Wal-Mart projects in 27 states, most in the South.

Last year, the firm did 55 small additions and 32 major expansions for Wal-Mart. A typical small addition consists of office and sales-floor remodeling with a 2,000- to 3,000-SF stockroom addition. An expansion is usually 25,000-50,000 SF.

Egyptian Pipeline

ETC Engineers Inc. of Little Rock recently completed work on probably the most distant project of any Arkansas firm. ETC, owned by Bangladesh native Mizan Rahman, oversaw the construction management in the redesign of about 100 miles of pipeline in southern Egypt, marketing director Perry Carr says.

ETC won the contract about five years ago through the United States Agency for International Development. T'he project was financed by the USAID and the Egyptian government.

For years, ETC sent representatives throughout the country to attend most USAID workshops informing small businesses how to secure foreign contracts. The trips paid off when one USAID employee in Washington, D.C., suggested ETC apply for the Egyptian project. The firm did and won the contract.

ETC's portion of the work was originally for about $400,000 but grew to $900,000 before the job ended, Carr says. The total project, including construction, exceeded $15 million, he says.

The pipeline, originally built in the 1950s, stretched from the Nile River to the Red Sea. ETC's Charles Herndon, who recently returned to Little Rock, lived in Egypt for four years overseeing the project.

"The pipeline provides a water supply from the Nile River to a little town on the Red Sea," Carr says. "A study had determined that it was cheaper to transport Nile River water for public water as opposed to desalinating water from the Red Sea."

The pipeline had to be completely refurbished, Carr says. There were also 17 pump stations along the pipeline that had become useless over the years.

ETC hopes the Egyptian project will help it win other similar contracts. But Carr says that it may be difficult. ETC's contact at USAID, who had suggested the firm apply for the project, died three years ago.

Rahman speaks often at USAID conferences for small businesses. The USAID presents him as an example of a small businessman winning a major contract, Carr says.

"But we haven't been able to get another contract, even though [Rahman] is on the speaker's circuit," Carr says. "Probably 99 percent of USAID's key projects go to [Washington] Beltway companies. It's hard for a small business outside there to get a [USAID] job."
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business Rankings; CEI Engineering Association Incorporated; Cromwell Architects Engineers
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 27, 1993
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