MUNCY - The Lancaster-based Providence Engineering Corp. is quietly building a presence here in the north central portion of the state, having recently opened its newest office in January at 23 S. Main St. in Muncy.
"With the economy being so slow ... we wanted to try and expand our reach geographically," said David W. Bernhardt, vice president of operations.
Bernhardt, a Muncy native, said the company, which handles structural engineering for buildings, looked to Philadelphia and Baltimore first, though discovered the economics of each of those cities was equally slow.
David W. Bernhardt, vice president of operations, said the Lancaster-based
Providence Engineering Corp. wanted to expand its reach geographically. Answering to the call of the Marcellus Shale potential for construction, the structural engineering firm opened its newest branch in January at 23 S. Main St. in Muncy.
"So, we looked to the north, and as we started to look up here, we just kept hearing so much about what's going on with the natural gas (exploration)," he said. "We're hopeful that, in time, that will lead to ... construction projects."
According to Bernhardt, the company handles a wide breadth of structural designs, which range from homes, theaters, churches and office buildings - a capacity in which the vice president said helps remove Providence from being considered as a "niche firm."
However, the company has its limitations.
"We don't do bridges or anything like that," he said. "It's all buildings."
Locally, Providence completed work on a large paper manufacturing plant in Lock Haven, and worked from its Lancaster office on the YMCA building in Pennsdale.
As of now, it's handling projects involving a canopy at the Holiday Inn in Williamsport, as well as an Eagle Rock Winery project in the city's historic district.
What Bernhardt believes separates Providence from larger, more corporate entities is its ability to simplify the progress of a project in partnership with its clients - a foundation by which owner Dan Fichtner established the company.
Fichtner's philosophy allows Providence to respond to the requests of its clients at a faster rate, while also providing operations that are "clean, practical and straightforward," according to the firm's website.
"We're very focused on quick, efficient responses to clients without the bureaucracy of a large firm - that would really freeze up our engineers," Bernhardt said. "All of our engineers are fully-empowered."
The engineers at the firm are fully-equipped to handle a project from start to finish, he said, where a lot of other places one has to work to gain a license in engineering, which can slow up the process with clients due to a system of "checks and balances" by overseeing professionals.
"We're capable of doing it on our own, and that ends up mattering to the client. It speeds up the decision-making process and they get their answers faster," he said.
The company's success also stems from its willingness to take on whatever comes its way.
"We're not just designing schools, we're not just designing houses," he added. "We'll take any kind of structural engineering task that comes down the pike."
The company's website lists numerous beliefs that act as a system to guide the work, a system that Bernhardt said goes "beyond the normal business model."
The work received and the ability to do the work for its clients is based on the idea that it is all a gift from God - hence, the firm's name.
"The way we look at it for us - for Dan and I - we make sure everybody knows where we stand," he said. "We're very thankful for what we're able to do, and we really do believe that it all does come from God."
By honoring the work it does through faith and its list of core values as a company Bernhardt said he hopes gives clients a view of Providence through a charismatic lense.
"I hope it gives people comfort," he said. "We don't want work because of that, (but) we're just honest men doing an honest bit of work."
For more information, visit www.proveng.com.