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After one firm ends, two other begin

By: Inka Bajandas March 17, 2015 12:10 pm

Dave Humber at their new office

Dave Humber is principal of Humber Design Group, a new urban civil engineering firm based in Portland’s Central Eastside (Sam Tenney/DJC).

The recent dissolution of a Vancouver, Wash.-based land planning and civil engineering firm has spawned two new businesses, including one that has ventured south of the state line.

After 15 years in business, MGH Associates‘ principals decided late last year to pursue separate ventures. The firm officially closed its doors on Dec. 18, 2014.

Immediately following MGH’s closure, two former principals, Fred Garmire and Dave Humber, founded their own companies. Garmire started Vancouver-based planning, civil engineering and construction consulting firm 2G Associates, at 400 Columbia St. Humber’s new urban civil engineering firm, Humber Design Group, moved earlier this month into offices at 117 S.E. Taylor St. in Portland’s Central Eastside.

MGH had a great run for more than a decade, Humber said, but its leaders reached a point where they were ready to move on to other business pursuits. He also wanted to run a business closer to many of the clients he and his team served while at MGH.

“It was a good opportunity for me to open something up down here (in Portland),” he said. “It was a very successful 15 years. Change is opportunity.”

Since MGH disbanded, Garmire said he decided to stay in Vancouver close to MGH’s former office and lead 2G Associates, a small three-person firm working on engineering and planning projects in both Washington and Oregon.

“One of the partners decided to scale back on his work,” he said. “Dave and I looked at it (as an opportunity) to move into a little different situations…I’m fortunate to work with some of the clients I worked with a MGH.”

Humber, who started his engineering career in Portland at KPFF Consulting Engineers, said he was pleased to return to the city. He hired six former MGH civil engineers, and the clients they were working with prior to the company’s closure have opted to continue to do so with Humber Design Group.

“My heart has always been in Portland and, frankly, that’s been where the client base has been,” Humber said.

Garmire said he’s also happy with the decision to close down MGH and start his own smaller firm.

“My goal is to stay fairly small and get back to where I’m directly involved in all the projects,” he said. “I’m having a great time doing everything.”

2G Associates’ services include site evaluation, feasibility studies, land planning, urban design, parks and urban space engineering, stormwater management, construction management, cost estimating and construction inspection.

Humber Design Group serves architectural clients and has expertise in urban infill and redevelopment projects, Humber said. Firm staffers have experience working on a diverse array of project types, including market-rate apartments, low-income housing, mixed-use buildings, education facilities, medical office space and creative office space.

Many of the more than two dozen projects the firm is tackling are in the Portland-metro area, Humber said. While at MGH, he and other firm staffers also became intimately familiar with gaining city of Portland project approval including close work with Portland Bureau of Transportation officials on public works permits, Humber said.

“We’ve involved in Portland,” Humber said. “It just made a lot of sense to locate an office here…We are very knowledgeable about getting through and understanding the permitting process in Portland.”

He’s also learned a lot about the process and the issues affecting his clients as a counter member of the city’s Public Works Appeal Panel and Development Review Advisory Committee.

“There’s a lot of people that gripe about Portland being a difficult jurisdiction,” Humber said. “I think it’s one of the easiest because we have so much experience with it.”

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Original article source: DJC