In 1948, structural engineer Al Samborn returned to his hometown of Toledo, Ohio after completing his military service to start his own engineering firm. Al desired to establish an organization that provided the highest value through what is still the firm’s core strength—excellent project delivery.
A year later, the firm expanded as Al was joined by fellow engineer Jack Steketee. The firm also added large clients such as Ford Motor Company and Libbey-Owens-Ford to its roster. Nearly a decade later, the company grew to a full-service A/E practice when architects Burrie Otis and John Evans came on board to form Samborn, Steketee, Otis, and Evans, later shortened to SSOE.
SSOE’s partners made strategic decisions that shaped the character of the firm. As early as the 1960s, the company gained recognition as a leader in technology. It was the first A/E firm in the Midwest to use in-house computers as part of its design process. Today, SSOE continues to put technology to use for its clients. The firm employs an in-house technology research and development team and is industry leaders in pushing the envelope in the integration of advanced technologies into the design and construction process.
In the decades that followed, SSOE diversified and continued to grow geographically. It added more services in response to the needs of its industrial base and broadened its markets to include healthcare, chemical, alternative energy, and others. In 2005, the firm opened its first international office in Shanghai, China, where it began offering full EPCM project delivery. This has since grown into one of SSOE’s largest offices.
The period between 2008 and 2016 has proven to be the company’s strongest periods of growth. In 2008, SSOE expanded construction management services to its U.S. locations, and began offering clients full program management, from site selection through design, construction, and start-up. This period also marked a number of multimillion dollar programs that pushed the development of more advanced technology, services, and processes. Organic expansion, as well as a series of five acquisitions, added to SSOE’s service offerings and expanded our presence in Brazil, the U.S., and India. In late 2012, SSOE merged with Evergreen EDC, expanding its U.S. presence and strengthening our capabilities in designing hi-tech facilities for the semiconductor, solar / photovoltaic, life sciences and telecommunications industries. Today, SSOE has offices in 6 countries and has completed projects 40 countries.
In late 2013, Tony Damon announced his decision to retire after 13 years as CEO and 37 years with the firm. In June of 2014 the Board of Directors announced their decision to name Bob Howell the next CEO of SSOE. He officially assumed his duties on December 3, 2014.
Consistent through the years has been SSOE’s commitment to employees. The firm has been recognized as a “Great Workplace” (Great Place to Work®), “Best Firm to Work For” (BD+C), “Cool Place to Work” (Crain’s Detroit Business), “Parent-Friendly Workplace” (United Way), and “Healthiest Employer” (Nashville Chamber of Commerce).
SSOE remains a nimble company that embraces change and builds on its strengths in order to create new opportunities. Its ability to transform itself throughout its history is evidenced by the firm’s consistent growth. Through the years, the SSOE Experience has remained consistent as one centered on our Value Promise and our Great Client Service resulting in the trusted relationships that have allowed SSOE and our clients to make history together.