PA Engineering Firms Expand During U.S. Recession – Why?

There’s one industry that’s been recession-proof over the past four years. Can you guess which one?

In a recessionary economy that’s stalled home construction, factory expansion and government projects, local engineering and architecture firm Borton-Lawson has hired more than 60 new employees and opened new branch offices across Pennsylvania and in Ohio.

Development of the Marcellus Shale by natural gas drillers hasn’t been the only driver of that growth, but it’s been the most important, firm Chief Executive Officer Christopher L. Borton said. Growth has also enabled the company to insulate itself from the highs and lows of what can be a volatile industry.

“The one thing about the gas is it hit right in the dead of a recession,” Borton said. “In 2009 and 2010 there were a lot of firms that were laying off 10 to 15 percent of the workforce where companies in Western Pennsylvania were growing.”

The engineering and architecture firm offers more than 60 professional services to companies extracting and transporting natural gas in Northeastern Pennsylvania, including surveying, site engineering, environmental review and permitting.

It has undergone tremendous growth over the last two years, expanding from 143 employees in December 2010 to 204 employees today, and is continuing to grow. Borton said he hired two or three employees last week and the company is continuing to interview potential candidates for jobs.*

*Wilkes-Barre (PA) The Times Leader (May 27, 2012) – Gas drilling gives boost to Borton-Lawson’s business