Marcus McGarity

Marcus McGarityMarcus McGarity is chief financial officer for WHPacific, Inc., an Alaska native-owned architecture and engineering company that moved to Colorado Springs early this year.

The company chose Colorado Springs because it believes the city is an ideal command center for expanding its business opportunities along the Rocky Mountain Front Range.

WHPacific is now firmly planted in Colorado Springs and growing steadily. The company’s success has won it much attention from the Colorado Springs community, which made it — and McGarity — an ideal candidate to participate in the 17th annual Southern Colorado Economic Forum.

McGarity, one of the forum’s panelists, took some time to talk to the Business Journal about his company.

Tell us about WHPacific, its growth and origins.

WHPacific, Inc. is a full-service engineering, architectural, planning and technical consulting firm headquartered in Colorado Springs. It has multiple offices in the Western United States. WHPacific provides fully integrated professional services in the areas of architecture, civil, mechanical, electrical and structural engineering, as well as environmental services that include planning, landscaping architecture, construction management, surveying and construction services. WHPacific delivers its services through 400 in-house staff and specialty consultants to meet the needs of its diverse clientele.

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WHPacific is focused on the following markets: transportation, including roads, bridges/structures, aviation, rail, transit, ports, multi-modal; water and environment, including water resources, environmental assessment, permitting, remediation, water and wastewater treatment, NEPA/EIA; development, including residential, commercial, retail, education, healthcare, hospitality, institutional, industrial/office, recreational; and energy, including renewable, pipelines, oil and gas, mining, power/transmission and distribution and commissioning.

[pullquote]Colorado Springs afforded us an advantage beyond simply establishing a new headquarters.”[/pullquote]

We strive to provide clients with the resources they need at any stage of project development, whether it be master-planning, design, construction, operations, or any other project phase. Our ability to fully serve our clients is enhanced by our global parent company, NANA Development Corp., which connects us to an extensive network of dedicated professionals, skilled worldwide partners and stable financial resources.

WHPacific is committed to preserving the environment through corporate and social sustainability practices and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Among our staff are LEED-accredited professionals with expertise in all the major engineering disciplines.

WHPacific was formed through the consolidation of several engineering, land-development, surveying and architecture firms throughout the Western U.S. from 1981-2003. The assembled firms that formed the foundation of WHPacific today have histories dating back as far as 1912. In 2005, ASCG Incorporated became a wholly owned subsidiary of NANA Development Corporation, and in 2007 ASCG Incorporated became WHPacific, Inc., taking on the name of one of the larger companies it had acquired in 2003. Our owners, NANA Development Corp., are a private for-profit corporation representing the interests of more than 12,000 Iñupiat shareholders who are descendants of the first people to populate northwest Alaska over 10,000 years ago. NANA is one of 12 land-based Alaska Native Corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.

WHPacific completed the whitewater course for the Olympics in Atlanta, 1996; designed the Waste Water Treatment Plant at both Yosemite and Grand Canyon, and designed Confluence Park in Denver.

Locally, we worked with Wilson & Company and Kiewit for the Interstate 25 expansion project. Our survey technology was used to gather all of the measurements, elevations and dimensions for the expansion project. We drove the interstate in a truck loaded with our satellite mapping tools and software in one evening.

In the Colorado Springs area, we have also worked on Monument Creek stabilization, Monument Creek restoration, Fountain Creek waterway improvements conceptual design, Fountain Creek stabilization plan and drop structures, East Non-Potable Waterline Project, Banning Lewis Ranch Drainage Master Plan and electrical upgrades at the Air Force Academy.

We have offices in Anchorage, Barrow, Fairbanks, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, Valencia, Colorado Springs, Denver, Boise, Stanley, Albuquerque, Bend, Portland, Salem, Seattle and Sumner.

How did you come to work for the firm, and what did you do previously?

I joined WHPacific in June 2002 in the Anchorage office. After spending 14 years in Houston, my family was seeking a more laid-back lifestyle, and we were eager to move to Alaska. In my role with WHPacific, I am responsible for all financial operations of the company, as well as leads in strategic business planning for internal growth, acquisitions, diversification and overall success of the organization. I have also managed the Alaska business operations and led information technology for the company. Prior to joining WHPacific, I held financial positions from assistant controller through chief financial officer with an international chemical manufacturing company and a construction company, both in Texas. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA in international finance from the University of Houston.

Why did the company choose to move to Colorado Springs, and what are the biggest advantages to being located here and doing business here?

For WHPacific, the decision to relocate our company headquarters from Anchorage to Colorado Springs was entirely strategic in nature and based on several factors.

This was part of a long-term strategic plan to gain better access to both customers and offices in the country. We felt that the center of the country with a major airport nearby would accomplish that. Denver has been described as the “silicon valley” of the infrastructure engineering industry, and we work with and for many firms that are based in the Denver area, so locating close to our customers in a single location made this region attractive. We have discovered that WHPacific is more successful in secondary markets (Anchorage, Albuquerque, Bend and Salem in Oregon, etc.) than primary markets (Seattle, Denver). A secondary market city close to Denver began making strategic sense, so Colorado Springs as a strategic location began to be very intriguing.

After meeting with the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, we felt that the Colorado Springs business community afforded us an advantage beyond simply establishing a new headquarters location. We felt that we would be able to grow our local and state business stronger and faster than any other location. This was a key factor because we did not get this growth impression from the other cities that were an option. They would just be a headquarters location, not offer local growth opportunities.