KCI Technologies Inc.
Editor’s Note: INTRODUCING I83 CORRIDOR – The I83 Corridor is the most sought after in Baltimore County – conveniently located, well appointed with services, great transportation, free parking, and a well educated and employable workforce. Commercial brokers lament that it has the lowest vacancy rate in the region at 10.25%, and with rental rates solidly in the middle (higher than Towson and Baltimore City but lower than the Southern Metro) businesses are looking at Hunt Valley. Business services mix seamlessly with manufacturing. New mixed-use construction at Hunt Valley Towne Centre brings added excitement to the live, work, play model. We will expand our coverage in this new section in the coming months and we’re proud to profile KCI Technologies.
You could say the career of one of Baltimore’s prominent CEOs started with a somewhat unpleasant odor.
Terry F. Neimeyer, CEO and Chairman of the Board of KCI Technologies Inc., a multidisciplinary engineering and consulting firm with 31 offices in 13 states and Washington, D.C., says, “I grew up in Southwest Baltimore, and you could smell the old Back River sewage treatment plant. I thought, ‘I’d like to work on that.’”
Inspired by a relative who was an engineer, Neimeyer earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of
Delaware and a master’s in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He also has an MBA from Wilmington University.
Although perhaps best known for engineering projects relating to transportation, KCI has both an environmental and a resource management section, which has performed work such as relocating stream channels and creating wetlands.
“We’ve always had the Big E – the environmental bug,” Neimeyer says. And, yes, the company has provided planning, design and construction services for wastewater treatment projects, including Mattawoman Wastewater Treatment Plant, Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant and Back River.
“We did work on Back River in 1979,” Neimeyer says with a laugh. “And we worked on its denitrification facilities recently.”
The firm’s own headquarters in Sparks are a testament to KCI’s environmental commitment. The 120,000-square-foot structure has earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification. The 5-year-old building incorporated recycled elements throughout the construction, and more than three-quarters of the construction debris was diverted from landfills and used in producing recycled materials. A white solar reflective roof, water-efficient landscaping, a state-of-the-art HVAC system, designed by KCI’s engineers and LEED specialists, and plenty of natural light keep employees healthy and comfortable.
Keeping employees happy keeps the owners happy – because the employees are the owners. KCI is an employee-owned company.
“We don’t have any private owners who take home a private share of the profits,” Neimeyer says of the company’s employee stock ownership program (ESOP). “We probably have 900 owners – no one owner owns more than 3 percent. If we do well, you do well. Our business philosophy is to share the profits with everyone, not just a select few.”
He’s a proponent of “bottom up” communications, placing an employee member on the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees, an approach that is not surprising from someone who started at the company right out of college, working his way up to being named president in 1995, a position he held until 2006, and CEO in 1999.
Since employees are so critical, attracting and maintaining top talent is always a challenge.
Neimeyer talks about baby boomers – “old farts like me” – noting that they would come to work, wait a year, and get a raise and a pat on the back. “But Gen Xers don’t
want to wait a year. With the ESOP, we’ve made millionaires out of people who started the company as minimum wage surveyors and left the company. But millennials want a more instantaneous award – ESOP is long-term.”
To that end, KCI, which is the 74th largest engineering firm in the country, has been a trendsetter in the types of benefits it offers.
“We try to stay ahead of the curve. We went to HSAs (health savings accounts) eight or nine years ago before they were popular,” Neimeyer says, adding the company also offered maternity leave and same-sex coverage when those were still rarities. KCI also is flexible with leave time. As a father of three grown children – and a brand-new grandfather – Neimeyer understands why benefits are so important.
The same care and concern for employees is extended to clients, which include private companies and government entities.
The Baltimore County company, which dates to 1955, was bought in 1977 by Walter Kidde and became known as Kidde Consultants Inc. In 1987, Hanson Trust PLC of Great Britain bought Kidde, the parent company. KCI initiated an employee buyout from Hanson, which was completed in December 1988, making KCI Maryland’s largest employee-owned company. In 1991, the official name was changed to KCI Technologies Inc. The name reflected the company’s early embrace of technology and its strategy to grow as a multifaceted firm.
“We thought people would want one-stop shopping – we thought that was the future of large project engineering,” Neimeyer says.
It appears he was right. The company boasts a long list of large-scale projects; Neimeyer is particularly proud of the Inter-county Broadband Network, part of a statewide high-speed fiber optic network that connects community institutions such as public schools, fire stations, community colleges, libraries and other government facilities. KCI Technologies provided design and outside plant construction services for the $72 million central section of the proposed One Maryland Broadband Network. The project won the 2014 Engineering Excellence Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Maryland.
As part of the construction of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the company provided design plans for reconstructing the I-95/I-495/MD 210 interchange. It also produced designs that upgraded the existing I-95 interchange at MD Route 24 and replaced the MD Route 24/MD Route 924 intersection with a full grade-separated urban diamond, all within a one-half mile stretch of roadway.
Neimeyer, an avid bicyclist who frequents the NCR trail, is a huge sports fan, attending every Ravens game and following the Orioles. So it’s not surprising that he’s excited about one project – even though it’s 22 years old. KCI provided all the mechanical systems for Oriole Park at Camden Yards, including the HVAC and the lights.
“Anyone who works on Camden Yards is proud of it,” he says. I95