Since opening in 1981, Entech Engineering Inc. in Reading has continually grown as a company in the energy sector across the changing tides of technology.
The architectural engineering firm started small in response to the energy crisis of the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, it has 100 employees in six offices in Pennsylvania – including one in Pottsville that opened in 1990 – and half of its client base consists of municipalities.
“And roughly 30 percent of our work is with the higher education market,” said Jeff Euclide, the company’s president. “Twenty percent is with the oil and gas industry.”
He noted the latter two markets tend to teeter-totter in proportion with each other.
“As energy increases in cost, customers’ focus goes into energy, and when it’s cheaper, there is less focus in that particular area,” he said.
“What we saw when energy prices were high years ago was that we were getting lots of work in how to reduce energy cost and be more environmentally friendly,” Euclide said. “We’ve always been doing that. It’s just that our customers didn’t necessarily know it or ask for it at the time.”
In the case of a school or college campus seeking a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the firm’s energy background helps clients to make more informed decisions, Euclide said.
“But sometimes the best long-term option is the most expensive one in the beginning,” he said.
Entech, which has an office in Coraopolis near Pittsburgh, is picking up business from companies drilling for fuel on both sides of Pennsylvania.
“We’re engineering pipelines to take this resource to markets,” Euclide said about the oil and gas industry.
“Our work has been doing environmental design so that the work is done environmentally properly.”
Regular inspections, documenting steps and processes at the pipeline sites and adhering to regulations are a part of this, too.
Meanwhile, an uptick in municipal clients in the Pittsburgh area also has been building the company’s reputation away from its home turf.
Entech this year landed five new municipal clients in western Pennsylvania, a significant increase since townships, boroughs and cities tend to retain arrangements with engineering firms for a long time, Euclide said.
“The Pittsburgh office was originally opened [in 2013] for oil and gas, but we’re getting more municipal clients up to Erie now,” he said.
The Jim Thorpe wastewater treatment plant is getting reading for an overhaul in 2017, and Entech is involved.
The plant is improving treatment, as per river-quality guidelines of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
“We’re also doing a complete collector system review to see what pipes will have to be repaired,” said Ed Gula, the plant’s supervisor and operator.
“They’re easy to work with during these design and plant improvements we’re doing,” Gula said of Entech, noting that engineers took him on tours of other plants to see different designs.
The Penn State Berks campus in Spring Township is approaching almost 3,000 students and has had a number of projects done by Entech Engineering in recent years.
Last year, Entech renovated the 44-year-old Luerssen Building, the campus’ first classroom building, said Kim Berry, chief operating officer at Penn State Berks.
The Franco Building just finished upgrades, too.
“They did an energy evaluation of the building and the equipment which heated and cooled the building,” Berry said. “The result of the project should be a dramatic reduction in electric usage because we got rid of 10 heat pumps as well as inefficient lighting.”
Some but not all projects on the Penn State Berks campus involve local firms.
“One of the real advantages for us is that they’re local, so they can be here in a matter of minutes,” Berry said about anytime a project-related concern arises.
“They work very hard to know the current technologies and design trends, so they stay current in their fields,” he said.