John Morrison and Joe Maierle met while working for the Montana Department of Transportation in the 1930s. During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt saw the potential of building a network of “superhighways” to provide jobs for those out of work. Over the next decade, Montana would begin constructing roads and bridges. While working in the Highway Department, John and Joe believed that to achieve their vision of “creating projects that improve the state’s infrastructure,” they needed to pave their way. In 1943, when President Roosevelt’s National Interregional Highway Committee recommended constructing a 40,000-mile interstate highway system, John and Joe knew it was time to start their multi-discipline engineering firm. In 1945, like many other Cinderella start-up stories, Morrison-Maierle began in John’s garage in Helena, MT.
The Largest Public Works Project in History
In his 1956 State of the Union address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower renewed the call for a “modern, interstate highway system” after Congress failed multiple attempts to pass a national highway bill. Within months of his address, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 into law, which authorized $25 billion in federal funding from 1957 to 1969. Across the country, Morrison-Maierle was picking up steam. By the late 1950s, they opened their second office in Billings, MT, with nearly 60 employee-owners, and they expanded their expertise from highways to include sanitation, airports, structural engineering, and streets. But their shared goal of starting a company to “create solutions that build better communities” never waned.
Morrison-Maierle expanded beyond Montana to help build communities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming. They now have more than 300 employees across those four states, and the company is 100% employee-owned. Along with expanding their geographic footprint, Morrison-Maierle has continued to add experts across industries. They are a professional services consulting firm that offers engineering, surveying, planning, technology, and science services. They’ve worked on everything from high schools to airports, churches, baseball fields, and health clinics- anything that builds better communities. The next community they are helping to make better is Spokane.
Morrison-Maierle Expands in Washington
In June of 2023, Morrison-Maierle’s engineering and environmental science teams expanded their services in their Spokane office. When we spoke to him this fall, Ross Balfour, PE, said their Spokane office provides mechanical, structural, civil engineering, and science services. Ross was recently promoted as the Buildings Market Group’s leader in Spokane and has worked as a mechanical engineer with Morrison-Maierle for eight years. “We’ve been building relationships in Eastern Washington for a while now,” Ross said. “We want to be a part of the communities we’re serving, so expanding our engineering and science services in our Spokane office has been a great next step.”
Since joining Morrison-Maierle, Ross has worked on banks, remodeled a high school, designed libraries, and more. To Ross, seeing a project from start to finish is one of the most rewarding parts of his job. Ross said Morrison-Maierle is always willing to give their employee-owners opportunities to grow and expand their careers, so he took them up on the chance and moved himself and his family to Spokane from Missoula so he could help grow the Spokane office and become part of the community. “99% of what we build makes communities better places,” Ross said. “To do that, we need to understand how those projects fit into the community to connect people, develop areas of belonging, and support the local economy. And that’s much harder to do if you don’t live in or understand that community.”
Like the foresight of John and Joe, Morrison-Maierle’s employee-owners see Spokane as a city poised for growth and decided to hire five more people in their Spokane office. “Spokane is the biggest community we currently serve,” Ross said. “We already have a lot of great partners here that help us create solutions that build better communities. Having a bigger team enhances these efforts.” Morrison-Maierle will be involved in K-12, commercial, and government projects before expanding into more healthcare work. Their environmental science teams will also work on preserving and restoring habitats.
Morrison-Maierle’s culture is defined by its four core values: integrity, commitment, respect, and excellence. They have continued to grow as a company for almost 80 years because of their relationships with business partners and employee-owners. When John and Joe set out to pave their own way, they did so to serve others and leave behind a foundation the company was built on. By acting with integrity, being committed to their work and the success of their projects and clients, and respecting their people, they have created a culture of excellence.