Business View Magazine - October 2018

32 33 structural bridges and other elements like that; environmental engineering; and construction services, which is really the quality assurance and oversight of any construction project, primarily transportation, but also water and wastewater.” Along with new offerings, came geograph- ic expansion. “We started off with one office in Detroit,” Patel notes. “We now have five offices in Michigan, on both the western and eastern sides of the state. Our first regional expansion outside of Michigan was into northern Ohio–Cleveland, to be specific.We have two offices in Cleveland. We planted a flag in the District of Columbia in 2009, to avail ourselves of some federal oppor- tunities. Since then, we have opened offices in Prince George’s County and Baltimore, Maryland.” In fact, Patel, who had worked at his father’s company as a young man before leaving to work on Wall St. and Silicon Valley, came back to the family firm in order to help it expand and diver- sify. And he believes that his financial bona fides are well-suited to the current world of infrastruc- ture financing, which, more and more, involves new models, such as public-private partnerships (P3s), and design/build contracts. “As a result,” he notes, “we’ve been working on selected P3 and design/build transactions with engineers, and we’re also getting involved with AI and oth- er industry-wide initiatives to understand and promote these new infrastructure development vehicles that are emerging.” Somat employs about 80 people, about 25 of SOMAT ENGINEERING, INC. which are licensed, professional engineers. “We have a very technically-savvy bunch, people who love a good technical challenge,” says Patel. “We love very difficult problems. Our specialty is the dense, aging urban areas, where there are a lot of multi-jurisdictional challenges and forensic work. As Ram likes to say, ‘If your problem is a problem from hell, we’d like to take a look at it.’” Ram is G. Ram Ramanujam, President & CEO of Somat. He explains how the company acquires most of its contracts: “First of all, most of our work, to date, has been as a sub-consultant – in other words, being part of a team. A larger en- gineering company is the prime contractor, and we’re working under it. And consulting engineer- ing work is typically not bid out like contracting work is. Most of the work we do is actually on QBS - qualification-based selection. So, the price is not what determines the selection; the team with the best quality is selected. Somat is not the cheapest company in town; neither do we aspire to be.What we’re interested in is bringing value.” When Ram talks about bringing value to a project, he is echoing the ethos of Somat’s found- er: “When Ramji started the company in 1986, he was very clear. He said, ‘We’ve got to do the right thing.’ So, integrity was at the forefront. The big- gest thing that sets Somat apart from our com- petition is in how we actually approach the entire philosophy of doing business. In our 30 years, we have never shirked from taking responsibility for our actions and, when they happen, our mistakes.