Roundabouts. Master plans. Parks. Gondola systems. Multimodal corridors. Fish culverts. Commercial infrastructure. Since May 2006, SCJ Alliance has worked on 3,346 projects for public and private clients.
As SCJ Alliance turns 15, there is a lot to reflect on. “We’ve gone from Costco folding tables as desks, to ten offices in Washington, Montana, and Colorado,” says Jean Carr, SCJ president and CEO. The first office was in Olympia, Washington.
The firm was originally called Shea Carr & Jewell and engineering and community planning were the firm’s bread and butter.
Lisa Hicks is SCJ’s corporate compliance manager and recalls, “When we were just starting up, I remember talking with Perry about the vision for the company, he would say ‘In 10 years we’ll be 100 plus employees’ and I just couldn’t imagine that since there were just eight of us at that time.” Perry Shea was SCJ’s original president/CEO and his prediction was close, with the company hitting 100 employees in 2019. Currently, SCJ has 122 employees.
Principal Bob Jewell and Chief Analytics Officer Amy Head were part of the first-year crew too and Eric Johnston, today’s executive vice president, wasn’t far behind.
“There are so many stories and memories to share that shaped our company and culture. It took a strong vision, commitment, and some moxie to build the company we see today, and it took all of us to make this happen and I am grateful for that,” says Perry.
Amy remembers, “Lisa was our entire admin and finance department. Everyone was a jack of all trades. I remember doing grading design, helping out Bob with street lighting design, and learning how the heck you permit a sand and gravel mine because a client needed help with that type of work all within like the first week.”
What has Eric seen change? “We have watched new terms develop – such as Transit-Oriented Design, and now Trail-Oriented Design. These trends match up really well with SCJ’s expertise and experience, as well as the passions of our staff,” says Eric, who has led long-term planning and strategic initiatives.
Today, SCJ specializes in civil engineering, transportation planning & design, environmental & urban planning, landscape architecture, and public outreach. Transportation services have expanded considerably, moving beyond roads, intersections, and freeways, to include cable-propelled transit and an ever-expanding variety of multi-modal options.
In 2019 the company transitioned to being a 100% employee-owned company (ESOP). “It was a way to reward our employees for their dedication and commitment, as well as preserve our unique culture,” says Jean. “We wanted to see the company continue with employees as owners, rather than selling when people wanted to retire.”
The firm’s culture is a point of pride for leadership. “I love to see staff embracing the dream – really appreciating the culture we have developed at SCJ, and incorporating the SCJ approach, integrating business groups and offices, and striving to turn every project into something of significance,” says Eric.
What will the next 15 years hold for SCJ? “If you ask me where our next office will be, I will say it all depends…do you have an idea and business opportunity to explore? My second response will be, I’ve always wanted an office in Hawaii because the sun is good for the soul,” quipped Perry.