Before it took on its final shape and name, TranSystems had its origins as a small transportation planning firm based in Kansas City, five people strong, with revenues to match. The core firm was organized in 1966 as Johnson, Brickell, Mulcahy Associates Engineers and Planners (JBM), with specialized expertise in traffic coordination. For a number of years the only type of work pursued or undertaken were traffic studies, with occasional forays into signal work.
The firm’s initial strategic plan was developed in 1989, laying the groundwork for growth in the industry first by developing design capabilities to augment its planning practice, and second by expanding its ability to deliver services closer to clients by opening several offices in the Midwest. The first business combination took place in 1990; the deal was closed with a handshake across the table in an airport diner in Hutchison, Kan. A number of business combinations and key hires followed, each bringing to the firm distinguished subject matter experts that helped solidify our firm’s circle of relationships with clients and potential clients. This first stage of the company’s growth took revenues from under $1 million in 1989 to $20 million in 1995, employees from five to 190, and from a single office to multiple offices in the Midwest ranging from Chicago to Texas.
The next iteration of the strategic plan, developed in 1995, built on the vision of the first, with a new goal, the intention of becoming a comprehensive service provider to the transportation industry. This intention required the gathering of expertise along each of the major transportation sectors, a reach beyond the delivery of engineering services only, and an organization built to support these aggressive goals. The original focus on states and municipalities and maritime were now broadened to include freight rail and the federal sector as viable businesses. Already, TranSystems had identified its special strength: its ability to cross over the different modes of transporting people and goods and bringing solutions to their common points of contact. The original Board of Directors was established in this same year with representatives from each of the founding firms, with Brian Larson serving as the firm’s founding CEO/President and Chairman. ‘TranSystems’ proper was born in late 1995 as JBM, Boyd, Brown, Stude & Cambern (BBSC), and Vickerman, Zackery, Miller (VZM) undertook a three-way business combination, one that firmly fixed the company with its enduring transportation focus.
The next ten years consolidated TranSystems’ position in the marketplace, taking revenues from $20 million to $125 million. All market sectors were “filled out” – freight rail, passenger rail, states and municipalities, aviation, the supply chain, ports and maritime, trucking and automotive, energy and communications, and the federal government. Its network of office expanded into all major population centers and most states.
The most recent milestone in the firm’s development came in 2006, when the company again drew together its leadership to establish the next initiative: services in architecture, engineering, and planning were to be considered as one line of business, and were to be supported by parallel lines of business in supply chain management, real estate, and security consulting. Such services are identified, developed, and honed within the lines of business, and then delivered through the market sectors. Governance and management of the firm’s operations have also evolved. The Board of Directors is now comprised of members from outside of the company and who are luminaries within several of the client sectors we serve. In October 2009 Mr. Larson announced the placement of Paul Malir as the company’s President succeeding himself in that role.
Today, with annual revenues in excess of $200 million, the firm is comprised of 37 offices serving all the major transportation, commercial, and industrial centers of the nation, approximately 1,000 professionals committed to identifying and solving the transportation issues of our clients. From undertaking several dozen projects a year, it now delivers more than 4,000. It ranks high on industry and magazine listings, and counts among its clients premier agencies and organizations in every state, from departments of Transportation to Fortune 100 firms.