Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc.
Fifty Years of Engineering Excellence
Inducted in 2005
Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc. (BWSC) is one of the top 200 engineering companies in the nation (ENR ranking 171). The company has 13 offices in five states: four in Alabama (Dothan, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville), six in Tennessee, and one each in Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio. With 450 employees, the company’s billings will approach $50 million in 2004. While still fundamentally an engineering firm, the company also employs architects, surveyors, landscape architects, environmental specialists, and planners.
The story of BWSC in Alabama is about two great men and two great companies. BWSC was founded by South Alabamian Dan Barge Jr. and his Vanderbilt classmates in 1955. The company (at that time called Barge Waggoner and Sumner) started in Nashville, Tennessee, but soon opened up several expansion offices, including one in Huntsville. BWSC provided design services across Tennessee and into northern Alabama—and eventually throughout the country—for municipalities, state and federal government, private development, and industry.
Sam Wainwright, a native of Birmingham, began his own engineering company in 1960 in Dothan. The company, offering civil and sanitary engineering services, began designing infrastructure projects such as wastewater treatment plants, roads, bridges, and most significantly, airports.
In 1989, while looking for a way to expand its operations in Alabama, Dan Barge and BWSC began conversations with Sam Wainwright. It was not long before the two companies realized how perfectly matched they were. Most enticing to BWSC was Wainwright Engineering’s legendary status as airport engineers in Alabama and surrounding states. The resulting company now had the people and the room to grow. And grow it did. And the two companies went from locally known companies in their respective states to a firm with a national reputation.
The easiest way to grasp the deep and far-reaching impact that BWSC has had on Alabama and the nation is to look at the projects completed by the firm. It is apparent that without BWSC, Alabama and much of the rest of the country would have a far different texture. BWSC along with Wainwright Engineering has provided engineering services for hundreds of airports throughout the nation. In Alabama, the company has been involved in airport work in almost every county in the state. These projects have included planning and relocating entire airports, new runways and taxiways, runway and taxiway extensions, navigational aids, lighting, parking aprons, fuel farms, hangars, terminals, noise analyses, property acquisition, airport industrial parks, and the list goes on.
In 2003, BWSC established an Aviation Center of Excellence to further establish BWSC’s leadership in the aviation field. Aviation Center staff have been featured as speakers at the Alabama Aviation Council conference and have led a program with the Economic Development Association of Alabama on the subject of aviation and its effect on economic development in Alabama.
BWSC has also had a tremendous impact on the state of Alabama (and beyond) in other ways including water and wastewater treatment plants, industrial parks, roads and bridges, industrial facilities, and military work.
BWSC is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2005. The firm is actively involved in promoting the engineering profession through membership and participation in ASCE-Alabama, NSPE-Alabama, and ACEC-Alabama. Several employees serve or have served in leadership positions in each of these organizations.