If you go to the TETRA TECH website you will find that they have about 10,000 staff. Mike Henderson, the VP Mining with TETRA TECH told me that about 2,700 work for the mining industry.
I had supper with Mike in Banff during the Tailings and Mine Waste Conference. In full disclosure: he paid for my supper, but that is all. What I write here, is my independent thinking and writing as a confirmed blogger. Neither TETRA TECH nor Mike Henderson have any idea that I am writing this posting.
Also with us in the Banff restuarant were a few of the folk from Wardrop, a Canadian consulting company that has recently been taken over by TETRA TECH. The Canadians were pretty obsequious towards their new boss—and me, for they had no idea who I was or why I was there. I was there because I knew Mike from his and my days with SRK way back in the history of the last century.
My first recollection of TETRA TECH was in about 1995 when I joined GeoSyntec in Huntington Beach. Most of the old guard in that GeoSyntec office had worked for TETRA TECH and had been given the pink slip when a new manager decided they did not need geotechnical engineers. Now TETRA TECH brags of having geotechnical engineers to serve the mining and landfill industry. They have even taken over Bryan A. Stirrat & Associates which I came across when it was still an independent entity, iron-rod ruled by Bryan Stirrat and serving the southern California landfill industry in fierce competion with GeoSyntec.
In Los Angeles I often went to the opera with Lorainne D’Ignazio who wrote many a proposal for TETRA TECH to win big in the government contracting field. Last I know, she was in her house overlooking the sea in Oregon still churning out proposals for TETRA TECH.
Mike’s rise with TETRA TECH begun when they took over Vector Engineering, one of two companies of similar name that specialized in designing heap leach pads for the mining industry. The other was taken over by Ausenco, and Australian outfit. He tells me is was simply uphill from there on.
I am still a bit hazy about how the mining services department of TETRA TECH is organized, where the specialists are, and who they are. Of course the mining brochure tells you they can do everything at every mine, and maybe this is so true that it is all you need to know. As with any BIG company, they will find people to staff any proposal—I know for I wrote many a proposal on the same basis for Jacobs Engineering, another company headquatered, like TETRA TECH, in Pasadena, California. While on the topic of Jacobs, take a look at their 2009 Sustainability Report available at this link. A somewhat different take than the normal.
It is almost sad to see this global march of big companies gobbling up the smaller guys. But who can blame the shareholders of the smaller companies when they face a dearth of young people with money to buy them out and a big company comes in and offers eight times the book value of the company. (This occurred last year to a mid-sized company that shall remain nameless–surprisingly they refused the offer, although there was much agony involved.)
Of course this will go on until something busts/bursts and then with the ruthless approach of the big company, they will lay off redundant, unbillable folk, and we will be back to another round of start-ups and small company growth and, in due time, another round of take-overs. This is all but a part of the financial-engineer craze that has become more important than actually making things: better to exist to grow, than exist to create. There is no standing still in this race.