In his last year of graduate school, 1980, Carlos Herrera founded our company to conduct a water supply research project for the Seattle Water Department. In the early years, the company focused on projects related to water quality, solid waste engineering, environmental engineering, and environmental science for municipal clients. Carlos, a Cuban refugee who immigrated to the United States when he was four, thrived on the various perspectives offered by engineers, scientists, and people with different cultural backgrounds. He began building the company based on diverse, interdisciplinary expertise and believed that skilled, dedicated people can achieve anything when they collaborate.
Our current CEO, Mike Spillane, began working for Herrera to gain real-world experience while in college. He offered to work for free, but Carlos decided to pay him an intern wage because he would soon be literally immersed in leachate and sorting through solid waste. Mike’s expertise and responsibility grew. Now he enjoys personally teaching early professionals how to integrate good constructability with good science in our designs.
As our company grew, scientists and engineers were hired in equal numbers to naturally encourage a culture where ideas are challenged and refined based on diverse expertise and perspectives.
Today our practice directors maintain this diversity, John Lenth, our water practice director, has over 20 years of experience leading several of the region’s landmark studies that have advanced our understanding of toxic chemical contamination in Puget Sound. Mark Ewbank, PE, our restoration practice director, is a civil engineer with over 30 years of experience leading teams in floodplain and habitat restoration planning, prioritization, and design. Phil Coughlan, our sustainable development practice director, is an environmental planner with over 30 years of experience focused on policy and planning to enhance waste reduction, recycling, and composting opportunities.
True to his ethics, Carlos sold the company to its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2005. He retired (for the most part) in 2017 and now lives on a small, organic farm near Olympia.
While the Seattle office remains our largest, we added offices as we grew into a regionally recognized interdisciplinary design firm: Portland, Oregon, in 2000; Missoula, Montana, in 2000; Olympia, Washington in 2008; and Bellingham, Washington, in 2014.
Our goal is to work with our clients to create economic vitality and community in a sustaining environment. We strive to provide a greater depth of understanding and value for our clients with every project, to make a real difference in the world, and to have fun along the way. As our company grows, we are expanding our services in California, the mountain west, and abroad. We seek responsible growth to provide our Herrera family with new opportunities for learning and to share what we learn with new clients in new contexts.