The history of David Evans and Associates, Inc. is one of entrepreneurial individuals staking a claim in the consulting engineering services industry with a simple philosophy of “hiring outstanding professionals and giving them the freedom and support to do what they do best.” It is the story of how talent and an inspiring philosophy ignited — allowing a two-person firm in Portland, Oregon to grow and diversify into an ENR Top 500 Design Firm with more than 950 employees who are committed to serving private- and public-sector clients across the nation.
1976 to 1981: The Wonder Years
David Evans and Associates, Inc. was founded by David F. Evans, PE, PLS, and David H. Gould on April 1, 1976. Specializing in subdivision design, the firm experienced tremendous growth during the national housing boom. Developers appreciated the firm’s gift for coaxing the maximum number of lots from a parcel of land while retaining existing trees, natural features, and the beauty of the landscape. This creative approach to design increased the value of the lots. The firm’s sought-after services soon led to new offices in Washington State and adding the disciplines of land surveying and landscape architecture.
With the dawning of the recession and Savings and Loans crisis in the 1980s, the firm contracted due to the evaporation of its client base, and faced the first of many economic and market challenges.
1982 to 1987: Surviving the recession through diversification
The dismal private-sector market led DEA to diversify its services as well as acquire and merge with firms that served the public sector. Through the acquisition of Walsh and Associates in Southern California, the firm established its foothold in California and provided services to municipalities, utilities, and telecommunication companies. A merger with Timberland-McCullough, Inc. significantly strengthened the firm’s surveying services, and DEA began serving such public-sector clients as the US Army Corps of Engineers. Talented planners, intrigued by the firm’s philosophy, joined and established planning services.
1988 to 1992: Growth, diversification, and civic participation
DEA surged to the forefront of providing route surveying and design of fiber optic cable systems across the Western United States, including hydrographic surveys of cable landings. The firm added the disciplines of structural engineering, construction inspection, and natural resources, and expanded geographically into Arizona and Idaho. A speech by Peter Ueberroth exhorting businesses to be good citizens and get involved in public education led to DEA “adopting” Abernethy Grade School in Portland, Oregon and helping it purchase educational items not covered in its budget. Staff became involved in various volunteer opportunities at the school. DEA also began its association with MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) which has a mission to engage minority and women students in science and engineering professions. At Dave Evans’s behest, DEA began to sponsor public television in the Pacific Northwest. During this time period, DEA codified its company values: Honesty, Openness, Consideration, Enjoyment, Involvement and subsequently Entrepreneurial Spirit and Financial Security.
DEA also acquired advanced technology – becoming an early adopter of Global Positioning System (GPS) surveying equipment and the second firm in the Northwest — and one of less than 40 firms in the nation — to have a state-of-the-art geographic information system (GIS) system. The firm also purchased a survey vessel to respond to client needs for hydrographic surveying.
1993 to 1997: Celebrating 20 years and answering Hollywood’s call
Through an acquisition, DEA entered the Denver, Colorado market. Significant structural projects included the design of an 850-ton residential barge within the breakwaters of San Francisco Bay and the rehabilitation of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon, the oldest active lift-span bridge in the United States. Hydrographic surveyors were asked to map the Santa Margarita, a 1601 Spanish Galleon wreck in the Northern Mariana Islands.
When a hydrographic survey was needed for the Kevin Costner movie “Waterworld,” DEA answered the call and provided mapping off of Kawaihae Harbor, Hawaii, the movie’s shooting location. Next time you watch the film, look for DEA’s name in the credits.
1997 to 2001: A new millennium
From the islands of Hawaii to the mapping of Zapadni Bay, St. George Island, and the Pribilof Islands in Alaska, the travels of DEA’s survey vessel are a metaphor for the journey of growth, diversification, and client service during the firm’s first 25 years. These years also marked the addition of preeminent transportation, transit, and traffic engineering professionals whose work continues to shape our future. With the survival of Y2K and the introduction of 3D laser scanning, DEA ventured into a new era that is reflected throughout this website.
2002 to present: Looking to the future
With our founder now a member of the firm’s board of directors and after another recession, DEA has adapted and changed while staying true to its values and commitment to client service. Our past is as extraordinary as our mapping of the Grand Canyon. We are proud of it and invite you to visit our recent and award-winning projects featured on various pages of this website. We think you'll like what you see.
We are excited about our future. Welcome to DEA.