Black & Veatch started 1915 as a two-person partnership between former University of Kansas classmates Ernest Bateman Black and Nathan Thomas Veatch. The company began with 12 employees with offices in Kansas City, Missouri. It landed two large contracts, one in power and one in water, in its first year. The company's strong ties with government work began in 1917, as the United States Government War Department asked Black & Veatch to supervise construction of military training camps during World War I.
In the early years, the company mostly focused on water and power projects throughout the Midwest. In 1928, Black & Veatch designed and constructed 250 miles of roadways for Jackson County, Missouri. During that time, Veatch formed a strong friendship with Harry Truman that lasted through Truman’s presidency. Following World War II, Black & Veatch became involved with the work at the United States Atomic Energy Commission at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
After E.B. Black passed away in 1949, Veatch directed the company and in 1956 formed a general partnership with 29 engineers. Black & Veatch later opened its first branch offices outside of Kansas City – locations in Orlando, Florida, and Denver, Colorado.
In the early 1960s, the company made a move into international markets. The company won a contract to build a 200 megawatt power plant in Thailand, beginning a relationship that has lasted to this day.
Before Veatch retired from the company in 1973, and passed away two years later, he saw the company grow to more than 1,200 professionals, with projects spanning the globe.
Black & Veatch expanded dramatically in the United States between 1977 and 1984, opening 11 regional offices. The company also began a series of mergers and acquisitions starting in the late 1970s, acquiring Trotter-Yodder & Associates in San Francisco, and then Southern Science Application and Moore, Gardner & Associates. In 1985, the company acquired the Pritchard Corporation, which helped Black & Veatch enter the gas, oil and chemicals field and gain major energy companies as clients.
Through acquisitions and organic growth, the company grew to 35 offices in the United States by 1990 and was also expanding in other parts of the world.
In 1995, Black & Veatch merged with Binnie & Partners of the UK, giving the company an opening in the UK, European and Asian markets. The next year, Black & Veatch also acquired Paterson Candy Ltd., a UK-based water treatment process contractor.
In 1999, the company changed its structure from general partnership to an employee-owned corporation. That change facilitated the company's growth, as many of its clients were involved in multiple markets across the core sectors of energy, water, information and government.
Black & Veatch’s history is marked by steady leadership and deeply rooted core values. After the death of founder E.B. Black, founder N.T. Veatch ran the company until his retirement in 1973, and he turned the company over to managing partner Thomas Robinson. Robinson led Black & Veatch for 10 years and retired in 1982. His brother, Jack Robinson, succeeded him as managing partner and guided the company for the next decade. In 1993, P.J. Adam took over as CEO and became Chairman in 1998 and operated the company until 2000. Len C. Rodman became the sixth leader in the company’s history and was the Chairman, President and CEO from January 1, 2000 to November 26, 2013. Steven L. Edwards was named Chief Operating Officer in March 2013 in a transition role before becoming Chairman, President and CEO on 27 November 2013.
In 2005, the company made three acquisitions – R.J. Rudden Associates, Lukens Energy Group and Fortegra – doubling the size of its management consulting business.
Black & Veatch also made major expansion efforts with offices in Pune, India, and Beijing, China, and targeted new markets in Russia, China and the Middle East. The company was involved with reconstruction work in Iraq, and helped with the recovery efforts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
The company acquired the water business of MJ Gleeson in 2006, more than doubling the size of Black & Veatch’s UK water operations and further strengthening its construction expertise. In addition, the acquisition enabled the company to provide added project delivery capabilities to its clients.
In 2007, the acquisition of Richard Connor Riley & Associates enabled Black & Veatch’s telecommunications business to grow exponentially to its industry leadership position in digital infrastructure. In 2009, Black & Veatch acquired Ariston Consulting, an SAP systems integrator. The next year, Black & Veatch purchased Enspiria Solutions, helping to grow its position in the smart grid market.
Today, the company continues to experience strong growth across its core markets. Black & Veatch currently has a global workforce of more than 9,000 working in over 100 offices worldwide with projects completed in more than 100 countries on six continents.