by Wally Northway
Published: May 10,2013
FC&E becomes national player in less than decade
BRANDON — It has been a quick trip for Ken Faulkner, P.E., from his kitchen table to leading a full-service environmental engineering firm with clients all over the U.S.
“It has all happened so fast,” said Faulkner, founder and principal engineer at FC&E Engineering, LLC. “And, we’re still growing. Did I envision this when I started out back in 2004? No. The firm has exceeded all expectations.”
A pleasant surprise maybe, but Faulkner’s career leading up to FC&E’s opening put him on good footing to be a successful entrepreneur/environmental engineer.
A native of tiny Montpelier in Northeast Mississippi, he grew up on his family’s farm.
“I knew I wanted to be outside, and I was originally interested in the surveying side of the industry,” Faulkner remembered. He added with a wry smile, “I quickly found out that meant slashing through vegetation with a machete, mosquitoes, snakes. I don’t mind hard work, but I changed my focus to other aspects of civil engineering.”
Faulkner would go on to Mississippi State University, earning his undergraduate degree in civil engineering in 1986.
He was offered jobs with two state agencies upon graduation, and chose the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The work with the state agency would prove invaluable when he eventually went out on his own, Faulkner said. And, he also earned his master’s degree in environmental engineering (1992) from State while MDEQ.
In 1994, Faulkner left public work for a regional environmental consulting firm. After five years, he took a corporate environmental position with Mississippi Chemical.
“So, I gained experience in public/governmental work, private consulting and corporate America,” Faulkner said. “It was all progress toward opening FC&E.”
Mississippi Chemical would eventually file bankruptcy in 2003. Fortunately, Faulkner had some clients that wanted to retain him, so he set up shop in his home and FC&E was born.
Faulkner was a one-man gang in 2004 when he started. Nine years later, the firm has 10 employees, including eight engineers.
And, FC&E continues to grow. It recently added Kim Evans, who brings emergency response, hazardous materials, grant-writing and other knowledge.
Russell Lyons, P.E., another ex-MDEQ staffer, has 26 years of experience in areas such as wastewater and training.
Bruce Ferguson, P.E., has brought a new specialty to FC&E — air dispersion modeling — and also has a background in hazardous waste and other specialties.
“I think our key to success is our diversity,” Faulkner said.
FC&E currently offers 10 different service areas, from air permitting and compliance to stormwater pollution prevention. The firm’s experience includes project management, engineering design and construction management. It counts clients all over the U.S., some as far afield as New Mexico and Ohio. Those clients include major manufacturers, oil and gas companies, aerospace firms, municipalities and more.
In the biofuels industry alone, FC&E has worked on projects encompassing a poultry litter-fueled, combined 20-million gallon per year biodiesel production facility; a 20-million gallon per year soybean oil-derived biodiesel production facility; and, a waste to fuels second generation biofuels plant.
“Opening offices in other states is probably the next step, but I’m in no hurry. I want smart growth,” the unassuming Faulkner said. When asked if he had big plans for the firm’s 10th anniversary next year, he smiled and said, “I haven’t even thought about it. Guess we have to do something, huh?”
For more on FC&E, visit www.fce-engineering.com.
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