Chris Underwood (left) is the general manager of 1898 & Co., and Ray Kowalik is the CEO of Burns & McDonnell.

Burns & McDonnell Launches 1898 & Co.: A New Future-Focused Consultancy Arm

Oct. 23, 2019
New tech and management consulting talent will be added as firm continues record growth

Founded by two entrepreneurs in 1898, Burns & McDonnell is a family of companies made up of 7,000 engineers, architects, construction professionals, scientists, consultants and innovators with offices across the country and throughout the world. Burns & McDonnell is launching its first new brand in the firm’s history with 1898 & Co., a future-focused consulting and technology solutions arm to deliver on clients’ biggest challenges. The name of the new brand is significant not only because it is associated with the year Burns & McDonnell was founded but also because it captures the spirit of our time.  Like today, a lot of change was happening in 1898 and with that change came opportunity. 

The new brand is poised to focus on services complementary to Burns & McDonnell’s 121 years of architectural, engineering and construction experience with innovative business strategy to help the firm’s clients navigate a successful path amidst a rapidly changing business environment. There is a lot of disruption specific to the power industry including electrification, decarbonization and digital transformation.  Consumers now have more options and the new brand wants to help utilities plan and react to this new paradigm.

“As a company, Burns & McDonnell has been designing and building clients’ futures since 1898,” says Ray Kowalik, CEO of Burns & McDonnell. “Staying in stride with the modern world takes intelligent investment and optimized business strategy. The consultants and technologists at 1898 & Co. are well-equipped to provide effective solutions to meet the needs of constantly changing markets.”

“We understand our clients’ business objectives because we helped create their most critical infrastructure,” says Chris Underwood, general manager, 1898 & Co. “1898 & Co., together with Burns & McDonnell, is capable of delivering value across the entire life cycle of an asset — whether physical or digital, from conception to construction and through operations — by driving smarter decisions, improving performance and maximizing value, faster and more transparently than ever.”

Underwood also says that they “want to be the “go to” strategic partner for all electric utilities to not only enable them to succeed but thrive in an age of rapid disruption and threats.”

1898 & Co. will provide business, technology and security solutions consulting services, including:

Business Optimization & Strategic Asset Planning: 1898 & Co. leverages business architecture frameworks and deep knowledge of assets to provide data-driven solutions that improve infrastructure portfolios and optimize business outcomes.

Digital Transformation & Software Solution Development: As digital strategies must advance alongside business objectives to remain competitive in shifting markets, 1898 & Co. delivers software solutions, digital road maps and integration services to equip and inform the enterprise.

Security & Compliance: 1898 & Co. supports the development of systematic, structured and holistic strategies and programs for risk management against cyber and physical threats while maintaining regulatory compliance.

While the diverse solutions provided by 1898 & Co. are distinct from traditional AEC services offered by the rest of the firm, 1898 & Co. will not be a separate company and will continue to serve new and existing customers as an integral part of the Burns & McDonnell family.

Over the last decade, Burns & McDonnel has already been doing a lot technical and strategic consulting, but clients haven’t always known that they have these capabilities.  In many cases, they serve as “silo busters” with respect to synchronization of internal pockets to help power companies be the best organization they want to be.  They are excited for the opportunity to get more involved in strategy and serve customers who are now operating in a different paradigm with different objectives. 

1898 & Co. has also added new products, services, depth and capabilities to drive clients’ modernization efforts, including:

• AssetLens, a new cloud-based Software as a Solution (SaaS) technology to allow clients to better connect operational conditions with financial decision-makers. AssetLens aggregates existing data, enriching it with key health algorithms and priority metrics to inform capital expenditure decisions.

• An Oil, Gas & Chemical Consulting team whose experienced professionals deliver business and technology solutions to the oil and gas industry.

• Seasoned management consultants to provide clients with critical strategies for business and digital transformation.

The launch of 1898 & Co. will generate new job opportunities with a focus on growing tech and management consulting talent. The new brand follows the firm’s continued efforts to hire 1,000 new employees each year. Since the inception of the development of 1898 & Co. began in 2017, the group grew 55%. In the next five years following the launch, 1898 & Co. projects to grow by 80%.  In fact, the new brand has added over 100 people in the last 18 months.

“Robust solutions need to work in the real world, not just exist on the drawing board. 1898 & Co. was born to catalyze that purpose,” says Underwood. “We are inspired to imagine what comes next — and then help clients through the complexities of bringing it to life. At 1898 & Co., we show our clients the way forward. Then, alongside Burns & McDonnell, we deliver it.”

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