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Port Orange Observer Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017 2 months ago

Port Orange merger expected to bring more growth, local jobs

Florida engineering firm QLH joined forces with Mead & Hunt on July 1.
by: Nichole Osinski Staff Writer

After the merger of Florida engineering firm QLH and Mead & Hunt, a national architectural-engineering consulting firm, company leaders are planning for job growth and expansion of services locally. 

The companies, which officially merged on July 1, are now preparing to add onto the Port Orange office, with the expansion potentially serving as a hub for future Florida office locations. According to QLH President Brad Blais, the companies are looking to expand their Port Orange building by about 50%, adding another 4,000 square feet. 

"For that office to double or triple in size is not out of reach by any means," Andy Platz, president of Mead & Hunt, said. "I can easily see it double if we add a couple of the markets to it, and if we add additional services I can see it triple in size for sure, and that's just in the short term."

The building addition will accommodate 20-30 new Port Orange positions in the next couple of years. Blais said the building expansion should take about six to eight months; then hiring begins. 

New positions to be filled will include engineering jobs and technical personnel to perform the work. Platz said they expect the company will need mechanical, structural, architectural and electrical engineers. 

"This is all a direct result of the merger," Blais said. "We certainly want to be a part of the community. Our employees live and work largely in Port Orange and the surrounding areas, and we want to continue that."

The city of Port Orange has been a client of QLH since 1980. Blais said the company works with Port Orange and surrounding cities, including those in Volusia, Flagler and Brevard counties, primarily on water, sewage and storm water projects. However, with the merger, in addition to the water and civil resources, the business will now be able to offer transportation, aviation and federal programs along with architectural, mechanical and electrical engineering services. 

Platz said from Mead & Hunt's side, the company is interested in expanding its wastewater expertise, something the Port Orange company has the ability to do. According to Platz, the merger is also a way to grow the Florida market. 

"We can offer local clients, like Port Orange and others in the area, additional services that QLH was not able to offer," Platz said. "Certainly, for the market we'll offer, transportation design, highway, bridge design, airport design, aviation design is a big part of our market."

In the future, Blais said QLH wants to do more with the Department of Transportation. He said Mead & Hunt's current presence in aviation planning, specifically with Daytona Beach International Airport, will benefit their goal to increase this area of work in Volusia County, including the airports in Ormond Beach and New Smyrna Beach. According to Blais, the company also has its eye on increasing programs in Brevard County. 

Platz said the company wants to make sure the current client base in Port Orange is solidified before expanding out to other areas of Florida, while serving many of them from the local office.  

"We're going to have more people," Blais said. "We want to continue what has made us successful in the past and do more of it in the future."

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