EA Engineering to boost staff across U.S. by 100


EA Engineering, Science and Technology Inc. of Hunt Valley outlined a rosy future yesterday, saying that it would add 100 scientists and engineers at its 23 locations nationwide to handle a record backlog of contracts that is expected to boost annual revenues to $100 million.

"Our staff is fully utilized," Edward V. Lower, president and chief operating officer, told shareholders at their annual meeting. "We are searching [for employees] in a measured way."

The expansion, which would boost the company's work force to 900, comes after a record fiscal year in which total revenues jumped by 25.8 percent to $76.9 million. Net income for the 12 months that ended Aug. 31 increased by 81.6 percent to $1.8 million, or 30 cents a share.

EA Engineering's backlog of work had more than doubled to a record $496 million by the end of November -- fueling the need to hire more workers, Mr. Lower said. "We don't bring people on on speculation," he said.

About one third of the new hires will be spread among EA Engineering's three offices in Hunt Valley, where 300 people work, and its Silver Spring operation, with 35, Mr. Lower said. Another third of the new jobs will be at the company's three California offices and the rest will go to the remaining 16 offices, he said.

EA Engineering, which specializes in environmental assessments and cleanup efforts, has focused on federal contracts since the mid-1980s. Government work now accounts for 60 percent of its backlog.

Most of these contracts are tied to the environmental cleanup of military bases that are due to close. And despite the change in congressional control, company officials say the stream of contracts will continue for the foreseeable future.

"The bureaucracy of the government, once put into motion, tends to roll," said Loren D. Jensen, chairman and chief executive of the company. "It's very hard for me to believe the bases are not going to be cleaned up and closed," he told about 35 stockholders at the company's headquarters.

But to cover its bets, EA Engineering also is courting businesses, which have started spending more on environmental cleanups as their profits perked up last year. "I think there are going to be further increases in private sector business," Mr. Lower said.

Despite the optimistic outlook, the company's stock has taken a beating in recent months after reaching a high of $12.50 on July 14. Yesterday it closed at $5.75, down 50 cents.

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