San Antonio-based Bob Andrews Group, an entity that provides fire-protection services for public- and private-sector clients, has expanded recently to keep pace with the rocketing growth in domestic oil-and-gas production. While some of the company’s new ventures are focused on the shipping and storage of oil, it also has beefed up staff to help South Texas businesses and communities deal with building and development challenges brought on by the exploding Eagle Ford Shale.
We asked founder and CEO Bob Andrews to discuss permitting and safety issues faced by South Texas municipalities and to outline his company’s recent growth.
Q: Fire protection and code issues have become significant in South Texas communities dealing with brisk growth from the Eagle Ford Shale. Is that an opportunity Bob Andrews Group is exploring?
A: The Bob Andrews Group provides a unique combination of both emergency response and fire protection engineering services which can be greatly beneficial to those companies and those communities that are having to deal with the rapid growth in the Eagle Ford. We provide municipalities with engineering, plans review and code compliance support. Municipalities are often unable to grow their staffs fast enough to keep up with private sector growth. In order for Texas and other states experiencing major energy-related growth to expand safely, we must make sure that all new construction meets the applicable fire- and life-safety codes. A major part of keeping our communities safe is in the plans review and permitting process.
Protection Development Inc., one of the Bob Andrews Group companies, is unique in that we have the proven experience in working with municipalities, as an outside resource, to help them through this growth period. For our private sector clients, making sure that their construction packages, when submitted for review, are complete and meet all code requirements allows their project to proceed through the system as fast as possible. We also routinely conduct technical analyses, often required by regulatory agencies in the region. Specifically, in the city of San Antonio, there is a cutting edge program that fast-tracks projects reviewed and certified by our fire protection engineers. In summary, it’s not just about growth, but rather, responsible growth. We are proud to be doing our part to make sure that safety is an integral part of making America energy independent.
Q: I understand that PDI has done some recent hiring. Talk a little about that.
A: PDI is a fire protection engineering firm located in San Antonio that provides fire protection design and code review services throughout Texas. PDI Fire, as we are known locally, recently hired personnel in the fire protection design, permitting and codes-review departments to make sure that we are able to maintain our high level of customer service during what is a major growth period for us. Our growth is in a large part directly related to the overall economic growth affecting San Antonio, the Eagle Ford and the rest of Texas.
Yung Wei Tang, P.E., has been promoted to fire Protection engineer – modeling specialist. Yung Wei has a master’s degree in fire protection engineering and will be helping our clients with complicated projects. He brings special experience in smoke-control modeling and other specialized computer-modeling techniques. Yung provides our clients with considerable talent in the analysis of complex fire protection problems and systems.
We have added Robert Waxler to our engineering department. Robert was recruited from the Austin Fire Department where he worked in the fire prevention office and performed building and fire plans review. Robert has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has considerable experience in the design review of fire protection systems.
David Emler has returned to PDI to manage our permitting department. This department assists building owners, architects, contractors and developers through the sometimes-complicated permitting process. This not only helps our clients, but also helps governmental entities keep up with their growing demands. We do this by ensuring that permitting package submittals are both accurate and complete, reducing the number of resubmitted packages. The result is an expedited review/permitting process for all parties.
Q: The Bob Andrews Group did a recent reorganization. What prompted that?
A: The reorganization affects personnel in both PDI and the Bob Andrews Group.
First, John R. Cochrane, P.E., has returned to full-time status with PDI. John was one of the founding members of PDI back in 1985 and was serving as the President of PDI when he was activated as a Navy Captain after 9-11. He took a leave of absence from PDI to lead the port security efforts for Navy installations throughout the Puget Sound. After his Navy duty, John remained with PDI as a consulting principal fire protection engineer, specializing in major project work as well as legal consulting. John is managing this major growth phase as the senior vice president and general manager of PDI. John brings over 40 years of firefighting and fire protection engineering experience along with his lifelong personal relationships throughout our industry, not only in the San Antonio area but nationwide.
Second, we have added to Sam Goldwater’s responsibilities. Sam, as senior vice president of the Bob Andrews Group, has also been assigned the position of senior vice president – business development of PDI and assigned the duties of senior fire protection consultant. Similar to John Cochrane, Sam also has over 40 years of fire protection experience and has specific experience working with fire departments and government agencies. He is helping local governments, especially those jurisdictions in the Eagle Ford, deal with the operational and governmental compliance challenges that are arising from our regional growth. Sam has worked with fire departments coast-to-coast, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago, helping them improve operationally – in many cases by introducing new technologies.