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Dewberry Business Information, Profile, and History

8401 Arlington Boulevard

Company Perspectives

For a half-century, Dewberry has been a leader in the planning, design, and program management professions. We work in partnership with public- and private-sector clients locally, regionally, and nationally.

History of Dewberry

Dewberry is a professional services firm involved in such areas as architecture, building engineering, design and build, emergency management, environmental, land development, municipal infrastructure, telecommunications, transportation, water resources, and survey and mapping. The private company employs more than 1,800 people and operates 30 offices in 14 states, including Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, and California. Dewberry maintains its headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, where it employs 800 people at a 200,000-square-foot complex. Dewberry does a great deal of public sector work, its federal clients including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Defense, Department of Labor, the US Postal Service, US Veterans Affairs, Federal Highway Administration, and National Park Service. Local and regional government and public authorities that employ Dewberry include the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, various units of New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority, and the cities of Norfolk, Virginia; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Rochester, New York; and Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina. Dewberry is the third largest engineering firm in the Washington, D.C., area, and according to Engineering News-Record is one of America's "Top 50" design firms and among the top 25 in several market categories.

1956 Origins

Dewberry was co-founded in 1956 by its longtime chairman Sydney Oliver Dewberry, a civil engineer trained at George Washington University. It was originally known as Greenhorne, O'Mara, Dewberry & Nealon. The six-person firm initially set up shop in Arlington, Virginia, to offer engineering and surveying services. Another key employee, Richard N. Davis, joined the firm in 1958 and soon made partner. In the early years the firm concentrated on projects in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. A notable contract during this time was the design of the Southeast Relief Water Main in the Capital.

The 1960s was a period of growth on a number of fronts for the firm. It enjoyed considerable success building up its residential land development portfolio during this time. In the mid-1960s it was involved in the construction of Fairfax County's King Park development. Other major Virginia projects included the Skyline Center in Alexandria, a 100-acre mixed-used development, and Lake Braddock in Fairfax County. In addition, the firm opened an office in Maryland in the 1960s to become involved in the building of Montgomery Village, one of America's first upscale planned communities. It was during this period that the firm became involved in the transportation area, winning contracts at Washington National Airport for runway and support system design. In 1964 computers were used by Dewberry engineers for the first time. A year later the firm, now more than 50 employees in size, moved its headquarters to Fairfax, Virginia. It also underwent a name change becoming Dewberry, Nealon, and Davis in 1968.

Dewberry diversified further in the 1970s and opened regional offices throughout Virginia and Maryland, as well as expanding into North Carolina. Maintaining these branches were more than 500 employees. The firm became especially well known for its mapmaking services, design expertise and architecture, and urban planning services. In 1974 Dewberry became involved in the emergency management field when it received a contract related to the National Flood Insurance Project of the federal Office of Preparedness, which in 1979 became part of the newly formed Federal Emergency Management Agency. Dewberry's relationship with FEMA would continue over the next quarter-century. It was also during the 1970s that Dewberry began to make its mark in environmental services, advising a number of communities as well as offering other municipal services. In addition Dewberry expanded its landscape architecture and program management services. Some of the firm's major projects during this time included Pentagon City, a planned "urban village" located in Arlington, Virginia, in the shadow of the military's Pentagon headquarters; another planned community, Lake Ridge, located in Prince William County, Virginia; and Fairfax County's upscale Fair Oaks Shopping Center. The firm also received a major University contract: the Biological Sciences building on the University of Maryland's Baltimore campus.

Growth and Diversification: 1980-90

Dewberry reached its 25th anniversary in 1981 and with the departure of Nealon shortened its name to Dewberry & Davis. The firm also moved its headquarters to a new six-story building in Fairfax, designed and engineered by its own personnel. In that same year, Dewberry expanded by way of acquisition, picking up TOLK, Inc., a mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection, engineering consulting firm. Dewberry would also end the decade with an acquisition, adding Goodkind & O'Dea in 1989. Founded in 1952, Goodkind & O'Dea provided services in engineering, design and consulting; construction engineering and inspection; land and engineering survey; and land use planning. The firm specialized in the transportation field, which accounted for about 70 percent of its revenues. Dewberry, on the other hand, generated just 10 percent of its business from transportation. Moreover, Goodkind & O'Dea expanded Dewberry's geographic reach, adding offices in Rutherford, New Jersey; New York City; and Hamden, Connecticut. Dewberry also began working throughout the United States in the 1980s, as its consulting services to FEMA were enlarged to include aiding regions declared by the President to be disaster areas. Dewberry expanded in other ways during the decade. It was quick to adopt state-of-the-art computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting technology. It also established the Dewberry & Davis Institute in 1984, a professional development program that helped to teach CAD and other subjects to Dewberry personnel.

In addition to disaster response work throughout the United States, projects with the U.S. military took Dewberry to other parts of the country as well as to Europe in the 1980s. The firm was also involved in a number of non-military government contracts during this time. In the transportation field, the firm fulfilled contracts with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and worked on the Fairfax County Parkway. Additional public contracts included surveying and mapping services to the White House and national monument grounds. Major private contracts included the championship-caliber TPC Avenel golf course and upscale residential community in Potomac, Maryland, and Tysons II, a mixed-use development that included high-rise office buildings, a luxury hotel, condominiums, and a major shopping mall.

Dewberry continued to diversify in the 1990s, through start-ups but growth was especially achieved through acquisitions. In 1991 the firm launched Dewberry Project Managements Inc. to provide consulting services to real estate developers. A year later Dewberry opened a Boston office. In 1993 the firm completed a pair of acquisitions. First it added Dillsburg, Pennsylvania-based Capitol Engineering Corporation, which was tucked into Goodkind & O'Dea, followed by another architectural/engineering firm, HTB, Inc., a national leader in institutional and healthcare design based in Oklahoma City. In 1995 Dewberry acquired Philip A. Genovese & Associates, Inc., a Connecticut firm. Two years later Dewberry established a Baltimore office by acquiring Beavin Company Consulting Engineers, which provided water/waste water, transportation, telecommunications, surveying and mapping, and other engineering services throughout Maryland. Finally, in 1999, Dewberry acquired Anderson-Nichols & Company to expand its Boston office. The acquisitions completed in the 1990s allowed Dewberry to expand its environmental services to include water resources, coastal engineering, and hazardous materials management.

One of the most significant projects undertaken by Dewberry in the 1990s was the design of the 14-mile Dulles Toll Road extension, a limited access freeway which ran from Leesburg, Virginia, to Dulles National Airport. The first privately owned toll road to be built in the United States in more than 30 years, it was a high-profile project and something of a national experiment. There was concern in many quarters about the crumbling infrastructure of the United States, and some saw "privatization" projects such as this as a way to fix the problem. In charge was the Virginia Toll Road Corporation, headed by a former Regan Administration official. The company originally hired Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Quade and Douglas, one of the most respected engineering firms in the country, to design the extension. But the two parties had a falling out, the cause of which was uncertain. Nevertheless in August 1990, Parsons, Brinckerhoff was replaced by Dewberry. All told, the firm provided engineering for 36 bridges along the 14-mile freeway, the longest of which was 660 feet, spanning the Goose Creek Reservoir.

Other prominent contracts in the 1990s included the repair of the Riverside Drive Viaduct in New York City, which had opened to traffic in 1928. Also in the city, Dewberry was involved in some pier restoration work. The firm won a number of contracts related to new educational facilities, including the George Mason University's Prince William Institute. During the 1990s Dewberry also added to its work with FEMA, which during the 1990s received a greater commitment from President Clinton. Dewberry increased its disaster response, emergency management, and mapping services to the agency. On the private sector side of the ledger, a major contract for Dewberry during this period was the Lansdowne Executive Conference Center in Virginia's Loudoun County. The firm was also engaged in a number of industrial projects in southeastern states over the course of the decade.

Co-Founder Steps Down as CEO in 1998

The 1990s also witnessed the rise of Barry K. Dewberry to prominence in the firm. After joining the business in the 1970s, he became a general partner in 1988 and was named chief operating officer in 1991 and replaced his father as chief executive officer in 1998. He would only hold the post for three years. In 2001, John P. Fowler took over as CEO, while the elder Dewberry assumed the chairmanship and his son became vice-chairman. Fowler, an engineering graduate from the University of Kansas, had been with the firm since 1983 and had played an instrumental role in Dewberry's rise to the top ranks of U.S. engineering firms. He would soon begin grooming his replacement. In 2002 Ronald L. Ewing, an engineer with more than 30 years of experience, was recruited to serve as chief operating officer. He replaced Fowler as CEO in April 2005.

The firm also underwent a branding initiative with the new century, as its name was shortened to Dewberry and all subsidiaries assumed the Dewberry brand. The firm continued to add to its holdings in the 2000s. It opened an office in Winchester, Virginia, in 2003 as well as an office in Culpepper, Virginia, in 2004. In that same year, Dewberry completed a pair of acquisitions. It expanded its presence in West Virginia by adding Ranson, West Virginia-based Appalachian Surveys, a 25-year-old firm that provided surveying, land planning, and civil engineering services to clients in West Virginia as well as the Eastern Panhandle and western parts of Maryland. In November 2004, Dewberry acquired Peoria, Illinois-based PSA, a design firm two years older than Dewberry. It was founded above a Peoria Drug store in 1954 by Forest A. Phillips and Eugene C. Swager to provided architectural, engineering, and planning services. In 1983 the two firms first began working together on criminal justice projects. While Dewberry was adding offices in the Mid Atlantic area and taking on national work through FEMA, PSA was expanding into Chicago and Naperville, Illinois; Dallas; and in 1996 entered Dewberry's home territory by opening an office in McLean, Virginia. The two firms proved to be a good fit, leading to the 2004 acquisition. Dewberry merged its building services practice with PSA to form PSA-Dewberry.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Dewberry established a project office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in September 2005 to coordinate its work with FEMA in its response to the disaster. Given the extent of the damage, Dewberry was likely to maintain a presence in the area for an extended period of time.

In another significant step, Dewberry decided to merge its design group into PSA-Dewberry. As a result PSA-Dewberry became the architectural and building services unit of the Dewberry conglomerate, generating about $37 million of the parent company's estimated annual revenues of more than $500 million. The union took effect on January 1, 2006, as Dewberry began its 50th anniversary year.

Principal Subsidiaries

Dewberry Project Managements Inc.; PSA-Dewberry.

Principal Competitors

CH2M HILL Companies, Ltd.; The McClier Corporation; Tetra Tech, Inc.


  • Key Dates
  • 1956 Firm founded as Greenhorne, O'Mara, Dewberry & Nealon.
  • 1958 Richard Davis joins the firm.
  • 1968 Firm's name is changed to Dewberry, Nealon, and Davis.
  • 1981 Name is shortened to Dewberry & Davis.
  • 1989 Goodkind & O'Dea is acquired.
  • 1991 Dewberry Project Managements Inc. is formed.
  • 1993 Architectural/engineering firm HTB, Inc. is acquired.
  • 2004 PSA, an Illinois-based design firm, is acquired.

Additional topics

Company HistoryArchitects, Architectural Firms

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