Ridgeland — Managing the engineering phase of Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority’s Nissan North America project, the state’s most prominent fast-track assignment, was merely a starting point for Mendrop-Wages, LLC.
Today, the civil engineering consulting firm that Chad Wages co-founded with Blake Mendrop in 2001, a year after Wages joined the Nissan Implementation Team to help oversee the state’s $363-million commitment to Nissan, has grown from two employees to 20, and has more than a dozen high-profile projects under its belt.
“We used the revenue from my work with the state to bridge the gap while we were growing our business,” said Wages, P.E., principal of Ridgeland-based Mendrop-Wages, LLC. “While I was working on Nissan, Blake was building the company’s commercial and residential and hydraulics projects.”
The company also helped design the Archie Cain Road relocation and the Center for Advance Vehicular Systems (CAVS) access road, and handled engineering/surveying work for a 260-acre site located west of Interstate 55 along Nissan Parkway, including design of all roads and utility infrastructure.
Mendrop-Wages has handled projects mostly in Mississippi, ranging from an Entergy project in Madison County that called for planning, engineering and surveying work for a new substation to numerous projects in Leake County:
• A $1.1-million SRF project for the City of Carthage to include lagoon upgrades, aeration, discharge permits and a new outfall line;
• Site engineering design work for the Leake County Industrial Board’s 170-acre industrial park;
• Preliminary engineering reports and an environmental assessment of a new industrial site for the Leake County Board of Supervisors;
• A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) recreational project to include a new park and existing park improvements in the county;
• A CDBG and Rural Impact Grant project for roadway, sewer and water improvements for the Leake County Industrial Park; and
• An FAA/MDOT (Mississippi Department of Transportation) project at the Leake County/Carthage Airport for apron extensions, runway upgrades and wind cone relocation.
“Mendrop-Wages… has shown they have the capacity to perform multiple projects here,” said Leake County Supervisor Carlton Brock.
One of Mendrop-Wages’ most important projects is the site development and engineering design of Hugh Ward Boulevard in the Pinelands Development, which includes connecting two miles of a four-lane divided parkway from Spillway Road to U.S. 25 in the metro Jackson area.
“We just finished the design on that project and the construction stage is now starting,” said Wages. “It’s a real important project to us and to that part of Rankin County. It should significantly help with traffic flow.”
Mendrop-Wages has also handled sub-consultant jobs for several Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart stores, including the new retail venue in Madison, by conducting floodplain analyses to include hydrology and hydraulics of Dudley Main Ditch for Wal-Mart Retail Development.
The engineering firm has also handled hydrological studies for railroads.
“Blake has his master’s in hydraulics, and that’s a niché market for us,” said Wages. “Not many people have that expertise, so we’re really focusing on hydraulics and hydrology.”
Two upcoming projects: working with the Madison County Economic Development Authority on a master plan for a 120-acre industrial site near Gluckstadt, and collaborating on a major commercial, residential and roadway project in Madison County for Parkway Development.
Improving with every project
“We’re proud of our growth,” said Wages, who was named American Society of Civil Engineering’s Outstanding Young Civil Engineer in 1998 and Mississippi Engineering Society Young Engineer of the Year in 2000. “By the end of ‘01, we had six employees. By the end of ‘02, we had 12. At the end of ‘03, we had 16, and now we’re ready to add to our staff of 20. Because of the quality of our work, which I credit to the quality of our staff, we’re getting quite a bit of new business from referrals, and that has accounted for about 30% growth every year.”
Nine Mendrop-Wages engineers are graduates of the Mississippi State University College of Engineering. “Our staff has done a fantastic job of hitting the ground running and learning on the fly and improving with every project,” said Wages.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.