In the early days of 1987, Pedro Cevallos-Candau and Michael DeSantiago, two eager engineers working for a global engineering firm, set out to start a firm of their own that would put people first. On June 29, 1987, they founded Primera Engineers, one of the first Latino-owned engineering firms in the Chicagoland area, on the principles of Quality, Integrity, Teamwork and Balance.
More than three decades later, Primera continues to be a trailblazer in the engineering industry. What started as a small MEP firm grew into a leader in the Buildings, Transportation and Utilities environments. In March 2016, our retiring co-founders sold the firm to one of our own, then-Utilities Division Manager Erin Inman. With a workforce that includes more than 50% women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) employees, Primera’s deep commitment to diversity remains a key part of who we are – now one of the largest woman-owned (WBE) engineering design and consulting firms in the region.
The Primera concept is simple – deliver best-in-class technical expertise combined with an unparalleled customer service experience. Michael & Pedro’s founding principles – Quality, Teamwork, Integrity, and Balance - continue to shape the firm we are today. Quality in the value of our designs and service. Team built on respect for all. Integrity in all our personal and professional collaborations. And Balance between work and family life.
Thanks to our legacy of best-in-class client service, Primera has earned a highly-respected reputation in the industry that has been recognized by a number of organizations and publications throughout the years. We are proud to be an elite member of the following lists: Engineering News-Record (ENR) Top 500 Design Firms, ENR Top Midwest Design Firms, ENR Top Green Design Firms, Chicago Tribune Top Workplaces, Top Workplaces USA, Consulting-Specifying Engineer MEP Giants, and Building Design+Construction Giants. At the same time, we have been fortunate enough to garner numerous industry awards from a variety of organizations such as: the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Chicago Building Congress, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), ENR Midwest, and Building Design+Construction.