Arrive to Brevard in 1994, TLC Engineering Solutions Inc. has turned uncertain merger into mega success.
Gary Krueger saw the immense potential. Still, he was leery.
It was 1994, and word had surfaced about an impending merger between his employer in Brevard County, Gardner, Griffith & Associates Inc., and TLC Engineering Solutions Inc., headquartered in Orlando.
TLC, founded in 1955, was substantially larger, with approximately 90 engineers at the time. Could this union bring a complimentary blend of expertise and project work plus deliver a secure future? Krueger, who had arrived in Brevard six years earlier, hoped for the best.
Today, looking back, he simply said: “It worked out terrifically.”
His comment, in fact, might even be an understatement.
Krueger assumed the lead role of that TLC Cocoa office in 2000. The two principals of Gardner, Griffith & Associates — Winston “Bud” Gardner and David Griffith — became TLC’s chief operating office and head of TLC’s Structural Practice, respectively. Meanwhile, with the Cocoa office enjoying substantial success, the company took off as an independent full-service engineering firm with a design portfolio that ranges from projects in health care, education and the commercial sector to transportation, hospitality/entertainment and municipal work. These days, the company is quite possibly the largest health care engineering firm statewide, and the Brevard office is particularly consumed with work in the entertainment and government arenas.
There’s a broadening geographic footprint for the company, too. Aside from Cocoa and Orlando, TLC Engineering encompasses Florida offices in Deerfield Beach, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Sarasota and Tampa, along with in Atlanta, Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
“The company, as a whole, and the company here [in Cocoa] have both been extremely successful, and we could almost say the office here is probably the most successful,” Krueger commented.
“I think you can categorize it as kind of a dream came true. Yes, you did hope that this is what it would lead to, but there was a great deal of uncertainty.”
All totaled, TLC Engineering has more than 400 employees (predominately engineers) including 46 in Brevard, where by springtime, the Cocoa office will move to Viera.
Despite the heady company progress, the approach to business hasn’t been complex, according to Krueger. Multiple times, he described the approach using the words “extreme service and trusted adviser.”
“[Clients] trust our advice. They realize we’re on their team. … We can offer them that trust.”
In turn, the approach has extended beyond typical industry boundaries, Krueger explained. He noted that while the design/construction industry is sometimes slow to move forward with technology and change, “we don’t do it that way.”
One case in point is the Peak Institute, a division of company that is solely tasked with research for systems advancement rather than the completion of projects. “They [TLC researchers] have the luxury and ability to focus on the latest innovations in the field. … We’re looking for whatever is the best, whatever it takes to get us there; that’s what we’re after,” Krueger said.
Among the most recent systems’ advancements are in security, communications, audio/visual surveillance and acoustics.
“As buildings get much more advanced in terms of technology, you must have individuals who specialize in those fields, to make sure the technology that you’re introducing to a building meets today’s needs and the future. Those design features evolve very quickly, and if you don’t really have the latest systems designed, you can be introducing antiquated systems to your building,” Krueger reasoned.
Similarly, sustainability — energy efficiency for clients — is a priority. TLC engineers regularly perform life-cycle cost analysis on buildings involving energy and maintenance over years. Krueger called energy efficiency a “big differentiator.”
Further, Krueger envelopes sustainability into community service. “We take that responsibility above and beyond what may be necessary to make sure that our clients understand what their responsibility is to be good [environmental] citizens,” he said.
As one example, in 2010, TLC Engineering signed on to the American Institute of Architects’ 2030 Commitment to prioritize energy performance in buildings. “TLC’s AIA 2030 Commitment obligates us to educate owners of buildings that we design, as well as our teammates, on the benefits of achieving increased levels of energy efficiency in our designs,” he noted.
More generally, community service is evident in outright funding donations to organizations; the nearly 100,000 hours of pro bono or discounted professional services for the design of buildings and facilities; and TLC’s annual GreenWeek — visiting local schools to provide guidance to students on careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Not coincidentally, “exponential” company growth has occurred in the past decade, prompting this assessment by Krueger: “We’re on our way to being what they [industry members] consider to be a major national firm.”
Indeed, back in 1994, Krueger couldn’t have pictured a merger outcome much better.
“You don’t know what the future would hold,” he concluded. “But at the end of the day, yes, it did pretty much turn out as we hoped it would and dreamed.”