On June 29, 1987 Primera Engineers opened its doors looking to establish itself as a premier minority-owned engineering firm, focused on putting its people first. 30 years later, Primera continues to build on that legacy to be a leader in the areas we serve – Buildings, Transportation, Utilities, and Business Consulting. We have grown into one of the largest woman-owned engineering design and consulting firms in the region while our commitment to our clients and staff remains the same.
As part of our anniversary celebration, we are offering you a glimpse into our history and highlighting a mix of 30 employees, clients, and projects that have helped shaped us into the powerhouse firm we are today. We will be updating this page regularly throughout our 30th year, so make sure to check back and read up on our featured stories.
1. Our Lighting Studio Expert Highlights Career Growth and a Commitment to Quality
Deborah Steimel-Clair has been with Primera since January 2004. As a recent college graduate with a Master’s of Science in Architectural Engineering from Kansas State University, Deb was brought on to Primera’s Buildings team as an Electrical Engineer. She has gradually progressed in her career and today serves as the firm’s leading lighting design expert. Deb’s favorite projects include 31st Street Harbor and Maggie Daley Park, both of which have been recognized with industry awards.
2. Distribution Engineering Director Focuses on our Growth Strategy
Bryan Knowles joined Primera in 2006. Since then, he has moved up the ranks and is currently known as one of the firm’s leading substation and distribution experts. He recalls that around the time he was hired, Primera was slowly starting to shift from internally being organized by degree to being more organized by industry, similar to what the firm looks like today. He credits this as being a big driver in Primera’s ability to grow and focus on what sets Primera apart from other firms.
3. Project Coordinator Applauds our Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts
Roseann Marra was hired at Primera as an Office Manager in 2005, however her passion for customer service and desire to work with clients inspired Buildings Division Manager, Ken Panucci to transition her to Project Coordinator shortly thereafter. Throughout her time at the firm, Roseann has always been impressed with Primera’s give-back efforts, stating that at any given time there is always something going on as it relates to improving our local communities – from highway clean-ups to mentoring to environmental stewardship.
4. Lead Civil Engineer Pragmatic about Primera’s Bright Future
John Fehlberg had the pleasure of working with now President & CEO, Erin Inman, before she joined the Primera team in 2003. He got to know her well and witnessed first-hand her determination in consistently setting and accomplishing goals. Fast forward almost 15 years later, and John is just as confident in Erin’s abilities as ever. He is excited about the direction the company is headed and agrees that capitalizing on cross-divisional relationships will only help Primera grow.
5. Long-time CAD Administrator Keeps Primera Moving Forward with Technology
Manny Santana is one of Primera’s longest-tenured employees. For over 20 years, Manny has been the face of anything and everything CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) related. The industry has come a long way since the mid-90s when he first started and he couldn’t be happier that it has. He remembers the times when he had to wear a face mask when creating blueprint drawings because the machine used ammonia. Manny has been with Primera every step of the way helping the firm evolve with new technologies, allowing us to better service our clients. Today, he oversees most CAD/BIM procedures and processes, training, and manages the licensing and renewals for all CAD software.
6. Aviation and Sustainability Lead Grateful for High Profile Project Opportunities
John Antonoglu clearly remembers the day Primera was awarded the contract to work on the O’hare Modernization Program (OMP) as part of the Master Civil Engineer team, BPC Airport Partners. “Mike and Pedro (then owners) came into the office with a bottle of champagne because it was the firm’s largest awarded project to date. To me, it serves as one of Primera’s most noteworthy achievements in its 30-year history.” John has played a significant role with the OMP, helping navigate the variety and complexity of the airport’s infrastructure, since the project began in 2003.
7. Project Manager Proud of our ISO Certification
Erin Lowery began her career at Primera providing mechanical engineering services, and for the last several years has worked as a Project Manager on projects utilizing multiple disciplines as a prime and subconsultant for MEP, FP, architectural, lighting and commissioning projects. She recalls when the company initially pursued its ISO certification and instantly saw an improvement in workflow through the use of the quality policy, quality objectives, audit results, analysis of data, corrective and preventive actions, and management reviews. Recently, Primera reaffirmed its commitment to our customers and the environment by becoming certified to current ISO standards, read more about it here.
Check back regularly as we’ll be updating this story throughout our 30th year, ending June 29, 2018.