DUNCANSVILLE - P. Joseph Lehman Inc. Consulting Engineers is known throughout Pennsylvania for its bridge design work.
The Seventh Street Bridge project in Altoona is a recent high-profile project designed by the Duncansville firm, founded by P. Joseph Lehman Sr. in 1969.
The firm is also well-known for design work for the rehabilitation of more than 20 covered bridges, including all of the county-owned bridges in Bedford County and for the largest covered bridge in Pennsylvania, the Academia Covered Bridge in Juniata County.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Employees of P. Joseph Lehman Inc. Consulting Engineers review a ground water contamination drawing at the firm’s office at Old Farm Center in Duncansville. From left are: Ryan Granville, civil engineer; Stephanie Fulcher, GIS tech; and Jim Prohonic, geologist.
The Associated Press
Elizabeth Heggi, design engineer, and Ken Salza, director of land development and building systems, look over drawings for Tyrone Borough’s reservoir walking path.
The firm has served as engineer for Bedford County for about 40 years.
"They do all the bridge inspections for the county. They do an excellent job and are very thorough and very dependable," said former commissioner Steve Howsare, who recently became executive director of the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission. "Over the years, commissioners have come and gone, but they have stayed. That is a testament to how good of a job they do."
At the present time, the company is working on a section of reconstruction for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which includes reconfiguring the Pittsburgh interchange and widening a section of the highway to six lanes.
However, the firm does much more than just design bridges.
"What we are best known for is bridge design, but a lot of people don't know what all we do," said Martin T. Malone, client services director. "It is not a curse to be known for excellence in bridge design, but it is difficult to get the message out that we do more than bridge design."
Today, the firm employs more than 30 professionals and has offices in Bedford and Pittsburgh, in addition to Duncansville.
Lehman Engineers is a full-service civil engineering and environmental firm, and focuses professional services in land development/review, structural engineering, bridge design, highway design, bridge inspection to National Bridge Inspection Standards, construction inspection, land survey, global information systems (GIS), building systems design, environmental services, environmental characterization and remediation, geological investigation and grantsmanship.
"We have evolved from a small business to a multi-discipline firm. We are known not only for our civil engineering, but our land development and geo-environmental services have taken off," Malone said. "With diversification we increased our geographic footprint."
That diversification has been important to the company's growth.
"Land development is preparing drawings and getting permits for the development of a parcel of ground," said Kenneth W. Szala, land development/ business systems director. "Various permits are needed. We secure all the needed permits and prepare the drawings the contractor will need and take care of things such as lighting and landscaping.
"We incorporate our geo-environmental group if there is a need onsite. We have a complete turn-key team in one place," Szala said.
Lehman Engineers recently did the land development work for Logan Plank Crossing.
"We did the layout and design and created the outparcels," Szala said.
The firm also did the land development for the new Hoss's Steak & Sea House in Ebensburg and for the Castle Farms residential development in Logan Township.
The firm's geo-environmental services took off three years ago with the hiring of geologist James K. Prohonic, who serves as senior client representative/project manager.
"Lehman had an environmental department in place but the services we offered were transportation related. I saw a unique opportunity with the geo-environmental department, I thought it would be a good opportunity to grow from the ground up," Prohonic said.
"We offer services like Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments, environmental due diligence work, permitting work with the mining industry, indoor air quality, lead asbestos and mold surveys, water supply and remediation," Prohonic said.
The expansion of geo-environmental services has had a huge impact on the business.
"It was part of our decision to significantly expand and on who we have hired. We started with one professional geologist, now we are up to three professional geologists with a complete support staff. It has led to GIS being offered and hiring a full time person for that service. It also enhanced our ability to work as interdependent teams providing support to each other at Lehman Engineers," Malone said. "It really expanded our base of clients and made us more of a full-service organization. It has been a major development within the firm."
In addition to diversification, the company has grown as a result of stability.
"We have had people who have been with us for 40 years, there is very little turnover, those who leave end up coming back. We've grown because of that and our philosophy of the way we look at competition," Malone said. "You can look at competition as competition you need to beat or look at competition as an asset - we have built a more diverse team to handle more complex projects."
Never taking an eye off the ultimate goal - client satisfaction, has been the key to success.
"We make every decision with the client's best interests in mind. We are client centered. It is not just a project to us, it is a client who has specific needs, that is what makes the difference," Malone said. "Another important thing is we are very involved in our community as far as giving back and being a responsible business member of the community."
Malone is optimistic about the company's future.
"It is bright because of our strategic diversification. In my opinion we have the best and brightest professionals," Malone said. "We are led by P. Joseph Lehman Jr. our president. He is young and willing to listen to well thought out plans."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.