Diversification has helped Rettew thrive for half-a-century

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Tower 6 is just one of the downtown Allentown development projects in which Rettew is involved.

Founded in 1969 as J.C. Engineering/Surveying with four employees, Rettew now employs more than 350 people across 12 offices in three regions, and provides engineering and professional services tailored to meet and evolve with client demand.

“We grew by doing good work and adding services based on customer demand,” said Mark Lauriello, Rettew president and CEO.

Lauriello said having a diversified, solid strategic plan has helped Rettew weather economic downturns and continue to grow its business over nearly 50 years.

George W. Rettew Sr. bought the business and changed the name to Rettew in 1973, with headquarters in Lancaster and an office in Allentown.

Lauriello said having services in a variety of segments such as transportation, environmental and civil engineering allows for natural ebb and flow cycles and ensures some aspect of the firm’s purview is always busy.

Rettew provides services for the City Center Investment Corp. projects in downtown Allentown, including Tower 6, Three City Center and the Strata Flats and 520 Hamilton residential buildings.

“[It’s] the scale of the redevelopment of downtown Allentown, historically we have not been involved in something of this size,” said Matt Malozi, Rettew regional vice president in Allentown.

Malozi said it was not only exciting, but gratifying to be part of Allentown’s revitalization.

“We are part of a team that is rebuilding a city of some scale. This is not going to happen again in your career, where you work and look all around, you are part of it,” Malozi said.


Malozi noted his firm’s intimate involvement with the Allentown projects “is rare. … Most of what we do is buried – sewers, bridges, roadways. I can drive on Hamilton Street and say ‘I did that.’”

Time constraints were a big issue City Center project leaders grappled with, along with tight construction deadlines.

“Their attention to detail, willingness to meet our aggressive construction timelines and ability to adapt to change orders have been vital to our success,” said Robert DiLorenzo, City Center Allentown project manager.


Ryan Meyer, director planning and programming for the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, said Rettew’s ability to navigate permitting and governmental processes with local, state and federal agencies was key to the FedEx Ground distribution center being built in Allen Township.

“They [Rettew] were instrumental in helping us through those challenges. The time frame and construction schedule was tight,” Meyer said.

What normally could take as long as two years for preparation and permits was whittled by nearly 50 percent.

“We completed the requirements in about 12 months. They were instrumental in facilitating the process,” Meyer said.


Ethan Prout, Rettew senior project manager in Allentown, said quality of life and safety issues go hand-in-hand with economic development, stormwater and permitting, all vital pieces of the site work package at the FedEx Ground location.

A geologist, Prout’s area includes consulting and regulatory compliance as well as on-call environmental consulting, including cultural assets and archeological engineering.

Malozi noted it is easy to ignore systems and their infrastructure such as water and sewer lines, that is until they fail or stop working.

He said disasters such as Detroit’s water and system failures such as the Minnesota bridge collapse a decade ago, which took the lives of 13 people, should be constant cautions to tend those unseen, yet critical systems most of us take for granted.

“When systems are working it’s easy to spend money on something else,” Malozi said.


Different projects require different approaches from natural and environmentally sensitive areas to culturally and historically significant ones.

Lauriello said a site’s location along with what, if any, impact construction disturbances would make, needs to be taken into account up front.

“The best way to manage [wetlands and sensitive areas] is to avoid them,” he said. “But when that isn’t possible, then mitigation plans must be created to replace them.”

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