56-year-old, 35-employee engineering firm moving to bigger facilities near airport

[caption id="attachment_27788" align="alignright" width="360" caption=" Brelje & Race principal engineers (from left) Richard Ingram, Thomas Jones, David Long and John Locey plan to occupy their new offices by the end of this month. (composite photo courtesy of Brelje & Race)"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Brelje & Race Consulting Engineers is moving to slightly larger offices at year-end as the 56-year-old firm adapts to a greater number of outside competitors for a smaller pool of work and increasingly demanding project requirements.

The civil engineering, surveying and environmental consulting firm has been able to keep busy the firm's 35 full-time employees by having a mix of public works and private projects, according to principal engineer Richard Ingram, vice president.

"We've been fortunate that bond issues continued through the first part of the recession and that we have not done purely residential work," he said.

Several engineering firms have consolidated, been acquired or closed in the past four years as the flow of development projects, particularly of large residential subdivisions, went from a torrent to a trickle.

Still, the economic slump tabled the firm's expansion plans for four years. With the lease on the home of Brelje & Race at 5570 Skylane Blvd. for the past 16 years set to expire in February, the firm signed a 10-year lease for 12,300 square feet of office space at 475 Aviation Blvd. in Oak Valley Business Center near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

The slowdown in construction projects nationwide has brought in national engineering firms as competition for municipal projects in the past five years. However, one of the benefits of being based locally and having a long-range understanding of local politics helps retain clients the firm has worked with over the years, according to principal engineer Thomas Jones.

"It's about being responsive," he said. "Since you're right there, you can get to agency meetings quickly."

The firm started in 1954 and incorporated in 1960 as Sarles, Brelje & Race. Over the years, the company has worked on a number of major North Bay projects, such as the 675-acre Mayacama development, and spawned other firms. Today, the senior principal engineers are President John Locey, David Long, Mr. Ingram and Mr. Jones.

In 1967, Brelje & Race Laboratories split off as a separate business. Two decades later, Jim Daugherty, Dick Carlile and Leroy Carlenzoli left to start their own firms.

The engineering firm signed a long lease in exchange for extensive tenant improvements, including the creation of a number of private offices with windows around the perimeter of the space.

Barry Palma of Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank and Mark Stevens of Artisan Sotheby's International Realty represented Brelje & Race in the lease deal. Shawn Johnson and Danny Jones of Keegan & Coppin represented the building owner.

To contact Brelje & Race, call 707-576-1322 or go to www.brce.com.