WMU News

BTR Park gains Toledo-based civil engineering firm

Dec. 9, 2003

KALAMAZOO--A Midwest civil engineering firm with a long history of working with Michigan municipalities will open an office Jan. 5 in Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park.

Toledo-based Jones & Henry Engineers will open offices in the Pro Line Tech Building at the BTR Park. The 80-person consulting firm, which also has offices in Ft. Wayne, Ind., and Cincinnati, will occupy 1,900 square feet in the building, joining four other advanced engineering firms with offices in the facility.

Jones & Henry President Steven L. Wordelman says his company investigated several Michigan locations before settling on the new site. The BTR Park was picked, he says, because it offered the opportunity to work with WMU students and faculty and is in proximity to three major clients. The park's focus on service to the entire region was also a deciding factor.

"We have major clients in Battle Creek, Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo," Wordelman notes. "By locating in the BTR Park, we are aligning our firm with a respected educational institution in southwestern Michigan."

Jones & Henry engineers specialize in environmental engineering with complimentary civil and municipal engineering facets to their business. About 90 percent of the firm's business is in municipal and industrial water, wastewater and storm water engineering services. Their clients can be found throughout Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, and they've recently added clients in Kentucky to the mix. The new office is expected to allow the company's engineers to better serve existing clients and expand its client base.

Paul Romano, a principal with the firm, has already moved from Cincinnati to the Kalamazoo area and will serve as office director of the new unit. He says the office will open with an initial staff of about five people. It was during a visit to Kalamazoo to investigate possible sites for the new office that Romano learned of WMU's BTR Park and the new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences that adjoins it. Intrigued by the park's connection to the University and the opportunities it offers to work with faculty and students, he took information about the development back to the firm's partners, who shared his enthusiasm for the prospect of partnering with the engineering college.

"Lately, I've had the opportunity to wander around the new engineering complex, and I've been very impressed, especially with the hands-on opportunities for engineering students," Romano says. "When I was with our Cincinnati office, we worked with quite a few student interns, and I'm very excited about the possibility of doing the same here."

The University launched a new civil engineering program in fall 2003, and Dr. James K. Nelson Jr., chairperson of the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, says a number of areas of interest already have been discussed with Jones & Henry engineers. They include new materials and methods for infrastructure development and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure.

"The kind of work Jones & Henry does is exactly the focus of our department," says Nelson. "Our research focus is on the upgrade and rejuvenation of the nation's infrastructure. I think we'll see some great potential for both collaborative research and hands-on opportunities for our students. The firm's presence at the park will help give students a better perspective on the industry and a good idea of what to expect from professional life."

Bob Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach, says the move by Jones & Henry is an indication of the expanding reputation of the park

"The addition of Jones & Henry, an Ohio-based firm, shows that WMU's BTR Park is having an impact throughout the Midwest," says Miller, who is the University's point person on the development of the park.

Jones & Henry's Wordelman, himself a Southwest Michigan native, says his company, which was founded in 1926, has been working for nearly 70 years with cities in the region. The city of Battle Creek first became a client 68 years ago. For some 57 years, the firm has worked with the city of Kalamazoo, designing the city's state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system. Other Michigan clients have included the cities of Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and New Buffalo. Michigan industrial clients have ranged from General Motors Corp. to the Whirlpool Corp.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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