Black & Veatch finds ways to evolve during pandemic

Posted at 12:03 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 19:33:47-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Steven Edwards is the CEO of Black & Veatch, one of the biggest engineering firms in the Kansas City area. He sat down with 41 Action News Anchor Kevin Holmes to discuss how Black & Veatch is evolving and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Edwards said he’s proud to lead a company with such deep ties to Kansas City — a city that's a part of the fabric of Black & Veatch.

Like most businesses, Black & Veatch was forced to close its Overland Park headquarters to most of its workforce during the pandemic. Edwards said they are looking to the data for guidance.

“We will generally look for a number of consecutive days of declining numbers at low levels before we’ll officially open an office back up,” Edwards said.

In the initial return to work, Edwards expects less than 25 percent of the building’s occupancy.

Employees and visitors must first enter the Rapid Modular Health System (RaMHS). Dave Johnson gave 41 Action News an inside look at the newest unit. He said it can run a temperature scan in less than 30 seconds. There are sterilization stations. If someone shows symptoms, there are additional steps taken.

“They can do a telehealth session with their remote physician right from this room. It’s disinfected,” said Johnson.

In addition to the RaMHS, Edwards said offices will be cleaned regularly and cleaning supplies will be throughout the building. Social distancing will also be exercised within the office.

When asked what he sees for Black & Veatch in the next six months, Edwards said he’s encouraged. “Six months. I hope that in some ways we look a little like we did. Our strategy is to be the most innovative and rapidly evolving company in our space.”

In the beginning, Edwards said there was a bit of panic. “So, as CEO, the first thing you go through a little bit is the worrying stage and kind of contemplating, well you got to get your arms around it,” he said.

Edwards and the staff at Black & Veatch are doing their best to turn an opportunity into innovation. As for finances, new business has slowed down quite a bit during this pandemic for Black & Veatch but there were several projects to keep employees busy. With travel down, Edwards said there aren’t many additional costs, only additional opportunities.

“Everybody thinks about their iPhone, and the 5G network, and they just expect that water to come out of the tap and the power to be on when they want it. We make sure all that happens when you want it, and in the right way,” he said.

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