Providing EPC Services of Choice

Lauren Engineers & Constructors

Achieving success can be the result of a combination of factors, including striving for excellence with each and every job, encouraging innovation, fostering loyalty with employees and customers, and believing in a higher power. Lauren Engineers & Constructors, Inc. has created an industry-wide reputation as an engineering, procurement, and construction company of choice, and its values have served the company very well for the past three decades.

Lauren Engineers & Constructors provides comprehensive engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services to the heavy industrial sector throughout North America and select international markets. Through a network of strategic offices across the United States, Canada and India, Lauren serves the following markets: power generation, solar power, oil and gas, refining, chemicals and polymers. Backed by decades of engineering and construction project experience, Lauren has completed some of the most complex projects in the industry, creating its reputation for “Designing and Building Success.”

“We started off with seven core values 30 years ago, and they haven’t changed,” says C. Cleve Whitener III. Lauren’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Whitener formed Lauren Constructors, Inc. back in 1984 as part of the Comstock Group with the intent of pursuing industrial projects on an open shop basis. A few years later, in 1988, he created Lauren Engineers & Constructors, Inc. as a holding company for three of the Comstock Companies, and soon took on design / build projects throughout the Southeast and Southwest, with the company relocating to Abilene, Texas in 1994.

Mr. Whitener brought considerable experience to the company through his many years of involvement with EPC projects and his firsthand knowledge of diverse markets. His experience included fields such as electric power generation, chemical / polymers, refining, and industrial manufacturing; he also holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Southern Methodist University.

As a people-focused business, Lauren Engineers & Constructors endeavors to always do better for its customers, starting with its own system of beliefs and goals. The company has seven Core Values: loving and honoring God and serving others; striving to be the best; developing extreme loyalty through exceptional performance; challenging all workers to realize their full potential; acknowledging people are more important than activities or things; being good stewards of time, talents, and treasures; and encouraging innovation, rewarding responsible risk taking, and forgiving mistakes. These values remain an integral foundation of Lauren’s ongoing success, and of the Lauren family.

“We are supposed to excel at what we do, and that’s more than just not being mediocre – we really want to be the best at what we decide to do,” states Mr. Whitener. “At Lauren, we want to be very good stewards of our resources. Resources are limited, and we want to use our financial assets wisely, and our time wisely, and our talents wisely by putting the right people in the right jobs, and helping people to focus on their strengths.” It is by focusing on excellence in all our work for customers and rewarding staff for innovation and responsible risk that Lauren sets itself apart from its competitors.

Growth and ongoing success

Through highly planned, structured and measured growth over the years, Lauren Engineers & Constructors has expanded to over 1,000 full-time employees and contractors. Taking on projects often within the $20 million to $300 million range makes the best business sense for Lauren and its established role in the marketplace. Expansion over the years includes corporate headquarters and a fabrication facility in Abilene, Texas, offices in Atlanta, Georgia; Houston and Irving, Texas; and Knoxville, Tennessee; a modular assembly shop in Bynum, Montana; and international locations in Calgary, Alberta (Canada); and Mumbai, India.

Active in power, oil and gas, refining, and chemicals, Lauren offers its many customers a number of services, including but not limited to engineering work, detailed design, customer assistance with purchasing materials and equipment. Taking on most of its own construction – and with its fabrication shop in Abilene and an assembly facility in Montana – the company utilizes modular construction to support their own projects, and those of others as well, including equipment skids. In many cases, the modules they create are as large as the roads on which they are transported, which is done deliberately to minimize field construction labor.

With offices throughout the United States and Canada, Lauren Engineers & Constructors will take on projects in a number of locations worldwide, but only after the company has performed its due diligence to ensure that the work will be carried out with the utmost professionalism and safety.

“We do our research,” says Jack Shoemate, the company’s Executive Vice President, Business Development & Marketing. “We’ll take on projects anywhere there’s a stable environment, and where we believe our core values can be practiced successfully. We have the India office now, so we’re working there, and we’re pursuing things in the Middle East. We have done some work in the Caribbean islands, and we are very active across North America.”

Since joining the Lauren team in October of 2002, Mr. Shoemate – who is a member of the company’s Executive Committee – has spearheaded marketing and global business development activities for the business. Previously a Partner of Tippett & Gee, Shoemate has over four decades of engineering design and project management experience in the power generation, petroleum refining and process industries.

“Lauren is willing to go other places,” he says, “but you’ve got to do a lot of homework about these locations. We don’t go and jump out there. We spent two to three years before we decided to go to India.” Lauren Bharat Engineers Private Limited – formerly known as Lauren CCL Engineers Private Limited – is a leader in Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), offering engineering, procurement, management and construction services for thermal solar power facilities in India. Headquartered in Mumbai, Lauren Bharat is a 100 percent subsidiary of Lauren Engineers & Constructors, Inc. Exploring other locations, Lauren is also looking to the Middle East and examining a joint venture on a permanent basis with a focus on concentrated solar power.

Over the years, Lauren has acquired a number of other companies through precise, strategic planning. This is very deliberate, says the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, as acquisitions are carried out to meet perceived needs not only of the business, but its customers. “We identify a strategic need of our customer, and assess if we can meet that need with organic growth and hiring some people,” says Mr. Whitener. “If we think we can do that, and that is the best way to do it, we go ahead, because acquisitions are very challenging.” Before proceeding, two questions are considered: cultures, and customer need.

“First, are the cultures going to match?” asks Mr. Whitener. “Are the people going to embrace the coming together of the two companies, and do they have the same values, because a change in values is a really hard thing, and it’s not likely to happen unless there are two parties who really want that, and already have a lot of cultural alignment. Certainly that was the case with Tippett & Gee and with the Knoxville office – it was quickly evident that cultures were aligned. Second, is what they do going to meet the need that our customers have, and are we really going to combine the two companies such that we have an offering that neither company on its own could offer: you don’t get one plus one equals two, but you really get one plus one equals much more than two, in that you are able to offer things to your customer that either company couldn’t offer. So that’s really important. There’s got to be a win-win, and there’s got to be a real need for the partnership, that you recognize a multiple of successes of the two coming together. We’ve never made an acquisition where it wasn’t our intent. We’re not a publically held company, so numbers where we show ‘we grew 20 percent this year’ because we acquired a business… that really doesn’t make a lot of sense to us.” Mr. Whitener says cultural fit is the bigger challenge over services fit.

Licensed in 25 states, and with offices throughout the United States and in Canada, Lauren Engineers & Constructors – an ENR Top 400 Contractor – takes pride in providing all customers with a full range of high quality, cost-effective, in-house engineering and construction services. Focusing on integrity, safety, quality and performance, Lauren is an experienced EPC contractor, and widely recognized as the leading EPC contractor in the polymers and solar power industries. Dedicated to fostering enduring relationships with its own employees and customers, Lauren has secured numerous projects with well-known and respected customers. In the power sector, the company serves the needs of Florida Power & Light, General Electric, Siemens Westinghouse, and Old Dominion Coop. In the Polymers / Chemicals arena, customers include Proctor & Gamble, Eastman Chemical, and Buhler, Inc., while entities like Holly Corporation, Navajo Refining, Murphy Oil, and Alon-USA round out the oil and gas sectors. No matter the industry, Lauren maintains the same commitment it has fostered for the past 30 years.

“We believe the keys to our success are our mission, vision, and core values, and staying true to those,” says Mr. Whitener. “We’re a real people business, and whether you hire someone or they are part of an acquisition, the key to growth and success is highly motivated, highly competent people. We’ve been very, very fortunate both in terms of hiring, and companies we’ve chosen to acquire to help with that success growth. We’re a company that believes in prayer, and we don’t suppose that we’re going to have success on our own. Sometimes success is avoiding disaster. We work hard, but I think prayer has certainly changed some people’s minds, and gotten us out of some pretty tight spots.”

Plan ahead for safety’s sake

At Lauren Engineers & Constructors, nothing is left to chance. Project Managers are assigned to every project and are supported by project controls people. Sophisticated software is used to produce schedules and monitor budgets, and all jobs are supported by craft foremen and safety people, who are on every project.

In addition to having its own safety staff and a Vice President of Safety, Lauren has developed its own safety manual and has at least one professional on every job site for every 25 to 40 workers; if there are fewer than 25 workers on the job, a safety expert is still assigned to the site. “We have a very robust safety culture and training effort,” says Mr. Shoemate, adding that Lauren has both internal and external training programs. Every day, they do pre-task planning led by a foreman (with the crew listing all potential hazards), review all activities for the day, and review protective equipment they need. Everything is signed off with a sheet at the work area. “Again, this goes back to the aspect of planning, and safety becomes a very integral part of the planning process… We live and breathe safety, and foster a safety culture. When new employees are hired, they go through an orientation on safety, and are empowered to work properly.” This aligns perfectly with Lauren’s core values, and demonstrates the company’s interest in caring for people’s physical and mental well-being and spiritual health.

“When I go on a site, I get positive comments from the workers about the Lauren culture and brand,” says Mr. Whitener. “This all fits with the Lauren brand. We are staffed with honest and compassionate people, and our vision, mission, core values, and keys to success, everything, are not just words on paper, but a guideline to act professionally and personally by our people, and that makes an impact on customers. We have the core expertise that is needed for engineering, procurement, construction, fabrication, all of that, but most of all we are passionate about our customers’ success. We recognize that if we are going to be successful, our customers have to be successful, and so, we keep a focus on how we can help our customers be truly successful.”

Vision 2020 plan

In addition to creating a positive culture where staff conduct themselves honorably, with many active in charitable endeavors, the team at Lauren Engineers & Constructors looks back on 30 successful years in business, and looks forward to the years to come, through Vision 2020. This plan is based on three objectives: to become a top tier contractor in Power, Oil & Gas, and Chemicals & Process; Lauren being a great place to work; and the company having a positive global impact where it lives and works.

“We really want to become a tier one contractor, a major player in the markets, so major customers in those areas know about us,” says Mr. Whitener. “We really want to be the best employer in our market, so we do a lot of things that are intended to make our employees want to stay and become the best they can. We want to attract the best and top people to come and work with us. We want to have a very positive influence in the communities in which we work, in our industries, and with one-on-one people individually. Those three big goals are at the center of our planning and growth strategy.” If the company’s first 30 years in business are any indication, Lauren’s commitment to its staff, clients, and to God will ensure its success in the decades to come.

For more information about Lauren Engineers & Constructors, please visit http://www.laurenec.com/

October 20, 2017, 2:00 PM EDT

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